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Spain move up a gear as history beckons

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Chris Bevan | 10:57 UK time, Wednesday, 30 June 2010

World Cup 2010: Cape Town

There was a half-hour spell during the second half of Spain's victory over Portugal that ought to have set the alarm bells ringing for the seven other nations left in this World Cup - particularly those from South America.

Shortly before David Villa scored the goal that put the Spanish into the quarter-finals, something visibly clicked for Vincent del Bosque's side and they began to look like their old selves for the first time since arriving in South Africa.

It is not that the European champions were misfiring badly until then, well not in the manner of the likes of England, Italy or France at any rate. I still saw more pretty passing patterns from Spain in the first 45 minutes at Cape Town Stadium than Fabio Capello's men managed in two weeks, it is just that they seemed unable to make their dominance in possession count.

Their opening defeat by a freakish Switzerland goal seemed to knock some of the swagger out of Del Bosque's side - and wins over Honduras and Chile failed to repair all of the damage. For large parts of the first half against the Portuguese, I thought Spain had an unusually fragile look about them.

That all seemed to change around the hour mark - the same time that Fernando Llorente replaced Fernando Torres, who might appear fully fit after his knee surgery in April but is palpably lacking the sharpness that usually makes him a special player to watch and an even more difficult one to mark.

Llorente seemed to be the spark that set Spain alight. They immediately went close to taking the lead before almost inevitably finding the net through Villa, who is now the World Cup's joint-top goalscorer with four goals and is showing why Barcelona paid Valencia £34m for him in May.

With belief flooding back, the Spanish players seemed to remember a) how well their system works and b) why they are major contenders to add a global crown to their continental title.

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Highlights - Spain 1-0 Portugal


Portugal may not be the force they were when they reached the World Cup semi-finals in Germany in 2006 but they still occupy third place in the Fifa world rankings, had gone 19 games unbeaten and had kept a clean sheet in 22 of their previous 26 matches. Add in a touch of regional rivalry to the mix and Del Bosque can be very satisfied with his night's work against Spain's Iberian neighbours.

"There are three areas that are key for us," said Del Bosque after the game. "The first is controlling the ball, the second is attacking with conviction and the third is a solid defence. We had all three against Portugal which is why we won."

There was a bit more detail to their victory than that but the Spain coach played down the significance of the change he made, insisting Torres was tired and claiming Llorente merely provided fresh legs.

In one respect, Del Bosque was telling the truth. Spain did not alter their tactical approach, continuing to keep the ball with a succession of short, punchy passes. Yet the change in personnel undoubtedly made a difference.

The former Real Madrid boss has a big decision to make ahead of Saturday's quarter-final against Paraguay. Torres cannot be given too many more chances to find his feet.

It was telling to hear man-of-the-match Xavi talking afterwards about his side's "collective effort". That is exactly the reason why Del Bosque can afford to drop Torres if he wants.

While Portugal looked to the disappointing Cristiano Ronaldo as a potential match-winner on Tuesday night, Spain were able to rely on more than one man. It is pushing it to suggest they have been carrying Torres at this tournament but, with Villa in the sort of form he is, they have been able to afford a passenger up front so far.

That will have to change from here on in. It is possible that Europe's best team will have to beat four South American nations to win the title they crave at Johannesburg's Soccer City on 11 July. Chile have already been seen off in the group stage, now Paraguay await in the last eight, before possible games against Argentina in the semi-finals and Brazil in the final.

Whoever their opponents are, history is not on Spain's side. It is true they put to bed their tag of perennial under-achievers at major tournaments with their glorious Euro 2008 victory in Vienna, but at World Cups they still have a lot to prove. A fourth-place finish in 1950 is their best effort and they have yet to play in a semi-final.

Del Bosque knows already that the pressure is really on him now - one Spanish journalist at the post-match press conference pointed out that this weekend's game against Paraguay is the biggest of his two-year spell as national boss - but the signs are that he and his squad are taking everything in their stride.

"We are already among the eight best teams in the world," Del Bosque replied. "But we want to do better. I don't need to point to the Swiss game to remind the players that we can still make mistakes. We know how difficult every game will be now and we have to take things step by step."

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    My hopes are still high that Spain will carry through to lift the cup.

  • Comment number 2.

    Torres just needs 1 goal and he'll be banging them in. But wait...didn't we say that about Rooney too? :)

  • Comment number 3.

    As soon as David Villa put Spain in front last night in Cape Town the game was up for the Portuguese. The only plan they had for success was reliant on inviting Spanish pressure and hitting them on the break with rare counter attacks. When asked to chase the game, Portugal were found woefully short of ideas and never threatened to equalise. Yet another example in this tournament of teams who employ negative tactics coming unstuck. It's refreshing to see the teams who play positive, attacking football advancing in the World Cup while those who favour the pragmatic approach are dumped out early.

    Once Spain found their passing rhythm they were a joy to watch. Short, sharp exchanges between Xavi, Iniesta, Villa and Alonso that left the opposition chasing shadows for the final half hour. Hopefully they can take the confidence from their last three victories into the Paraguay game and give an exhibition perfomance to back up their title credentials. A potential semi-final against Argentina is a truly mouth watering contest and would surely provide a dazzling spectacle of pure footballing joie de vive. Germany however must not be taken lightly by the 'albiceleste'. They have shown tremendous attacking flair of their own against England and Australia so Saturday afternoon's heavyweight encounter is another match to savour in a tournament which started slowly but is showing increasing signs of building to a memorable crescendo. fingers crossed!

  • Comment number 4.

    I was really proud of Portugal's performance (I'm Portuguese).

    Congratulations Spain, the best team won!

  • Comment number 5.

    Completely disagree.. I think Spain look slightly better than average in this World Cup.. Watched that game last night and although they are playing better than the start they are still giving the ball away constantly.. Apart from Villa their most potent threat is often Ramos.. and more importantly Senna is out and replaced with Busquets.. decent looking young player but not a patch on Senna who gave Spain the license to attack in Euro 08

  • Comment number 6.

    Brazil spain final......my my, what a prospect that would be! However, I actually back holland to beat brazil on Friday. Brazil are superb at the back and lethal going forward but it remains to be seen how they deal with the counter attacks they are so effective at themselves. IM certian Robben and Elia will start for this very reason. Real pace and trickery adn when that ball breaks down we will see just what brazil are really made of!

    Only bad bit is that im working when its on!

  • Comment number 7.

    I hope Spain would become the first European nation to lift WC outside the continent..

  • Comment number 8.

    The difference between Torres for Spain and Rooney for England is that Capello relied on Rooney. There was no plan b in the England camp. Looking back at it, this is surprising because of Rooney's lack of international goals of late. For Manchester United this season, he has often be a one man Red Army, but for england, he was more of a timid house cat than a lion.
    When he played against Liverpool this season, he was not really impressive. Being an old evertonian playing for united, you would have thought that it would be the most important game in his season, but he only scored through a penalty that shouldnt have been.
    I wonder if he is not the big game player that he should be.
    Torres on the other hand (when he is in form) takes pressure with cream and sugar and is the epitome of 'cool as a cucumber'.
    Spain have a plan B. England didnt. Spain are into the quarters!

  • Comment number 9.

    "Chile have already been seen off in the group stage, now Paraguay await in the last eight, before possible games against Argentina in the semi-finals and Brazil in the final." Chris Bevan, I don't like the fact that you eliminated Ghana from the picture! The historical UPSET is yet to come.BLACK STAR'S are going to surprise the world.

  • Comment number 10.

    Like Spain's play, do think theyre keeping possession for minutes when they have a lead is a bit anti-football, but if you can do it, why not? It gobsmacks me every time that every player always has at least three passing options, ALL THE TIME.

    I just dont like theyre temperament. Capdevila for the red card was obviously faking. Look at the footage, he goes to get up before realising he needs to get his man sent off, and so goes down again. i didnt see any contact at all, but i am open to people proving me wrong on this.

    They also kicked ronaldo out of the game, and whilst this is normal practice, i think the level of protection he was given was incredibly low. Four times i counted the spanish player blatantly fouls ronaldo after he knocks the ball past him, but the referee, wanting a few headlines and being biased towards ronaldo's 'diving' reputation (which personally i think he has curbed), he just let them all go. I think this is frankly awful and weak refereeing. i dont blame the spanish for fouling ronaldo to stop his progress, everyone does it, but i think teh referee was weak and had a poor game.

    I think until Spain scored, Portugal, if negative, had much better chances, and i think people are being too in awe of spain. they are a fantastic team, with great players, but they are beatable, casillas looks in awful form, and portugal should have been 2-0 up by the time spain scored. but thats football, just dont enjoy everyone being hasty to put down portugal, they did very well last night, and played good football. counter attacks were almost deadly and once they had the ball theyre passing and moving wasnt half bad either. Spain were better on the night, but another day, the match could have gone the other way.

    Hope the winner of Ghana-Uruguay wins the tourney! (wont happen tho :/)

  • Comment number 11.

    Spain play entertaining football & I`m hoping that they win the world cup. Apart from skill you always need to have lady luck on your side. Having had some bad luck in the early games I think they have turned the corner. We all have some great QF to look forward to, enjoy.

  • Comment number 12.

    Spain was a better team, but that does not denied the fact that the referee tilted the game in favor of Spain. I am not even Portuguese, but Baldassi did not give any foul to Christiano Ronaldo in the whole game, and it did seem to me that the goal was in offside, it was not an scandalous offside like the Argentina- Mexico game, but still it was. Also can somebody explain to me why the Portuguese player Costa shown a red card. I have seen different videos of the game, and I can not find any contact in any video I have seen. Even in Argentina, newspapers are saying that Baldassi was to one sided on his call, but the newspapers in Spain are pretty quiet and Europe in general are pretty quiet about it

  • Comment number 13.

    Completely agree about Llorente. He was impressive and gives Spain other options, particularly if things are not working out.

    I think it will be Spain v Argentina in the semi's and the winner will probably go on and win the tournament.

    http://footballfutbolfitba.wordpress.com/

  • Comment number 14.

    Last nights game showed once again that if you can harry the Spanish in midfield you can beat them, apart from Villa, who will score for them. Not the pretty passes.

  • Comment number 15.

    Spain needs to gain depth. Their football is still slow, too many touches to move the ball to the front, too many touches moving the ball to the back. The approach of holding possession is good, but as long as they don't let the rivals to regroup and cover all the space to defend it. The only way to get that magic combination, possession and danger in the attack is to connect with the attack faster, specially Villa. The team needs Cesc in the field and Del Bosque NEEDS to take out Torres. They have been lucky so far with him playing so bad, but they don't have the luxury of doing that forever. Llorente in 30 min created much more danger than Torres in 4 games combined.

    Paraguay will not be easy but it is beatable by the Spanish team, as long as they don't lose the play they know how to create. Certainly they need to have Torres in the bench and Cesc and Llorente in the field.

  • Comment number 16.

    Portugal did okay in the 1st half. We defended well and limited Spain to long range efforts. The last 15 mins of the half we attacked more and created problems. I always said that if Spain scored first Portugal would go home. There is not a better team in the world at keeping the ball and they made sure that Portugal chased shadows in the last 30 mins. To people that say that we were negative, you have to play to your strengths, Spain has a better players and a better team so we could go all out for a victory because Spain with space to play their attacing game would have ripped us apart. (Germany vs England is an example). We should have taken more risks after going a goal down and that dissapointed me. Queiroz should have brought on another attacker and taken off a defensive midfielder. We had nothing to lose at that point.

    With regards to Ronaldo he was shocking at this world cup. Didn't play for the team, wanted to do everything himself. Trying to score a freekick form 40 metres instead of crossing it just shows his frame of mind.

    In my opinion he is not captain material, doesn't have the leadership capabilities required and thinks that he is superior to everyone else in the squad. He needs to be given a reality check at international level, otherwise I would prefer that he wasn't selected. At the moment he is a problem for the Portuguese team instead of being the best solution.

  • Comment number 17.

    I expect the final to be between Brazil and Argentina.
    Spain should see off Paraguay, although it will take them time to break down the defence, but I doubt that they can beat Argentina.
    Argentina/Germany could well be a very high scoring game, almost at playground levels given their desire to attack rather than defend.
    However, I think that the Argentines know the Spanish players too well, and that they have too many attacking options for Spain to contain.
    Argentina is playing for Maradona, and he is on the touch line. It makes a big difference.

  • Comment number 18.

    Villas goal seems to be offside since Xavi touched the ball - the front leg of Villa is behind the line on which the lowest Portuguese defenders stay at the crucial moment. See

    http://static.iltalehti.fi/mmfutis2010/aapatsiokansi300610_503_mf.jpg

  • Comment number 19.

    Great to read interesting and intelligent blogs on this page, rather than having to endure the childish comments and insults of other blog sites !
    I have to say I didn't hold out much hope for England from the start, judging by their performance in the opening game. Having lived in Spain for 20 years, my allegiance lies with the Spanish team, however they still need to step up their game and not take the paraguay team for granted..They can afford to leave Torres off on this game and test the water.

  • Comment number 20.

    The players who spain had on their bench tells you everything. Fabregas, one of the best midfielders of his generation, wasn't even used. Astonishing

  • Comment number 21.

    Torres is going to click himself on before the final if he keeps getting played. This is the part of the World cup where we see if Germany are any good, If Argentina have defence and if Spain and Brazil can turn on the style. Portugal should have gone all out last night, instead of defending the way they did, On another night they could have been 3 down after 20 mins.

  • Comment number 22.

    redmacuser

    ======================

    rooney, not a big game player? look to his performances against milan and arsenal, and city this season...

    torres looks a little jaded. even as a unite fan i hope he finds his spark he is a top class player and favourite of mine, would be good to see him hit some form in the world cup

  • Comment number 23.

    I hope yesterday Del Bosque realised that Torres does not contribute at all to the spanish team. Players like Cesc, Navas, Pedro, Silva and (since yesterday) Llorente would always have a place before him in my team.

  • Comment number 24.

    Agree with comments that the referee was too biased towards Spain.

    Not sure the Spanish were overall that impressive, but they're still obviously a very good team.

  • Comment number 25.

    I find it curious that no (or extremely few) english based players are having a good competition. The entire England team, Torres, Steven Pienaar were/are all underperforming compared to how we see them during the season in the premiership. The only player that comes to mind who has done quite well was Clint Dempsey and he spent a lot of the year being injured.

    Maybe there is something in this winter break idea.

  • Comment number 26.

    As others have said, Fernando Torres is not sharp after his knee surgery. Athletic Bilbao's Llorente should be the man playing alongside David Villa.

    Francesc Fábregas should be in midfield with Xavi Hernández, forming the Barcelona homegrown passing game which is so delightful to watch. The only people who play better are the Brazilians. Another problem that Spain has is Casillas is no longer San Iker, who was a brick wall during Real Madrid´s glory years in the late 90s and 2000s. Pepe Reina or Victor Valdez are playing better at this moment.

  • Comment number 27.

    Torres was always squeesed between two or three Portuguese defenders. I wonder why the ref didn't appoint a penalty when Torres was knocked down by two guys in the first half of the game, they clearly prevented his attack. There were more cases for yellow cards, which the ref was too generous to give. Well, he could have forgiven that smash on the Capdevila's ear too, it wouldn't have changed much at that stage.
    Why is that hype about Torres anyway? Yes, he is my gavorite footballer (one of) and I would love to see him score beautiful goals, the more the better! But when his play doesn't show very effective, it is wise to sub him with someone else who is 'new' to defenders, so that he would have few minutes to score before they find their way to keep him. And so Llorente was a great choice! Wonderful boy, I'd say bring him to Liverpool to back up Torres!
    What irritates me is when they start to compare Torres and Rooney. It's like comparing Ferrari and Volvo.

  • Comment number 28.

    #25 Dan

    Can probably include tevez and KP boateng in that but other than that a fair point.

    Also it seems bizarre that the only place I have seen the disgrace that was portugals red card referred to in any way and that was in the comments not the blog itself.

  • Comment number 29.

    First, I find it weird some call this fast passing and possesion game "spanish", the brazilians use this kind of play for decades... and so does most south americans, I would rather call it "argentinian style".

    Second, how they can be considered the best team in the world in possession, keeping the ball and everything, if they didn't play teams who actually have that as a game plan too? Brazil, Argentina? You focus your opinions on Spain's european campaigns, europeans didn't impress much when facing "the rest of the world", I must say (Greece is among the best in europe? seriously?).

    Spain's goal was illegal, watch any replay with a pause and offside-line, no doubt there. The best team won, but the game was decided by the ref, Portugal could have won as they looked dangerous.

    Anyway, they do look like a great team, I think they are the best in EUROPE, not the world.

  • Comment number 30.

    Spain were good, I love watching them BUT it could have been a Switzerland remake. Portugal were dangerous on the counter attack.

    Brazil are a team that would punish on the counter much more effectively than Portugal.

    In saying that, I find it hard to back against the side with the form striker, and David Villa has looked red hot every time I've seen him. He's on a different level.

  • Comment number 31.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 32.

    Number10, what are you on about? Spain won Euro two years after the last World Cup where European teams occupied first, second, third and fourth position. Where were "the rest of the world" then? Anyway, Spain have beaten almost everyone in recent memory, including Argentina and Chile, and lost only to USA and Switzerland.

    The offside was only marginal, about seven inches, which is perfectly fine. It's nothing like Tevez' goal against Mexico, not to mention double-handball goal Luis Fabiono style.

  • Comment number 33.

    Hard To Believe

  • Comment number 34.

    Ominous? No. Set the alarm bells ringing? Don't think so.

  • Comment number 35.

    I believe Del Bosque should keep faith with Torres. People should remember that when Spain won Euro 2008 Torres was quiet in the knock out stages until the final where he came alive against Germany and scored the winning goal.
    With regards to Spains performance against Portugal, the Portugeuse had a stuborn defence and wanted to score on the counter it reminded me almost exactly like when Spain played Italy in Euro 2008. The Italians sat back and defended the whole game to stop the spanish attacking and the Italians even had the best chance of the match. But Spain prevailed just like they did in this game. Yes Portugal had their chances but once Spain scored it was over. They kept the ball from the Portugeuse the rest of the game and they had no answer.

    People should also note that even the mighty Brazilians failed to break down Portugal when they played.

    I feel we have seen how good Brazil are, we have seen how good Argentina are but we have not yet seen Spain at their best. They can still go up a gear or 2! And when u look at the Spanish bench u know they have plenty in reserve!

  • Comment number 36.

    Forgive me but scraping past a very defensive Portugal wasn't that impressive at all. I thought Spain were okay, but not exactly amazing either. Didn't see any evidence of them stepping it up a gear.

    They remain beatable, very beatable.

  • Comment number 37.

    #9 Ayew,

    Spain are in a different side of the draw to Ghana, the only stage they can meet is in the final - since an African side has not yet made it to the semis in the history of the competition it's perhaps too speculative to suggest they'd beat Brazil and make the final, though I do believe they have what it takes to see off Uruguay

  • Comment number 38.

    The difference between Spain and England is huge. England has no concept of how to play. No build up, no playing with the ball, as Spain conserves energy and keeps the ball for most of the game. They will be a big threat later on in the tournament because they conserve so much energy by passing the ball around and not losing it. Spain wont be physically drained such as the US or England may have been because they just press and give every play 100% instead of building it up.

  • Comment number 39.

    Spain looked a tad too slow in the first half of the game with Portugal. The pace changed quite a bit when Llorente joined the team in the 58th minute. Things just started to click. You could see that it was just going to be a matter of time before Spain scored.

    Llorente presents a faster and bigger forward to guard for most teams. This allows Spain's defense to stay at the back even with set plays and perhaps provide more surprise when they do. I think it just makes a lot more sense to start him rather that Torres. It's been too much time to wait for Torres to get his form. This tournament is unforgiving for even the smallest mistakes...

  • Comment number 40.

    I'm afraid Paraguay will play even more defensively than Portugal, but Spain should prevail.

    #29 And I think Scotland epitomized the passing game in the early days of football, so the notion goes way back.

  • Comment number 41.

    I agree the Spainards are beatable, but by Who exactly? Portugal set out to defend en masse and hit on the break. They also have the top goalkeeper in the world in my opinion, who much to my shame I hadn't even heard about before the competition.. I am out of the loop give me a break. Most teams facing Spain except Paraguay, and then I am not sure how it pans out off the top of my head, will come at them to get the early goal. Paraguay will be punished the same as Portugal, they don't have a Ronaldo, or Carvallo, but perhaps are a better overall unit. Ronaldo did nothing to impress except prove that, that ball, can be hit, and put on target viciously. Have you noticed no keeper is trying to catch the ball now, just parry it away. I think Torres is being played unfit on Purpose in order to get him match fit for the final. By which stage he should be on fire. We are used to seeing the Spanish players in the league, perhaps on an individual basis there performances are down a notch but as a team, they could have hammered Portugal had the Portugese not got such a great Keeper.

  • Comment number 42.

    Completely disagree with this blog, Spain have been pedestrian throughout the tournament and barring the passage of play that lead to Villa's goal were stagnent yet again. Del Bosque's spanish play very narrow, with Xavi, Iniesta, busquets and Alonso all wishing to occupy the centre of the pitch. Defensively Casillas has continued to have the shakes which is having a knock on affect by unsteading the centre backs. Alonso and Busquets are one to many defensive midfielders. There is nobody on the right of attack and is the only width offered is that of Villa on the left, who is having to provide the killer punch in the centre too.
    Del Bosque should get over his Real history and drop Casillas and Alonso. Valdes in goal is the perfect sweeper keeper for the way spain wish to play, Busquets, xavi & iniesta would reunite the Barcelona midfield triangle and free a spot for a winger -Mata, pedro, silva, Navas. I'd probably choose Pedro who offers more of a goal threat. Del bosque is in the enviable position of being abl to choose the Barcelona first 11 minus the two full backs and of course Messi, he should swallow his pride and do so.

  • Comment number 43.

    Agreed. David Villa is providing the cushion for Torres to play and fail. Del Bosque has probably been waiting for that one moment of brilliance from his ace striker Torres which could do the strikers confidence a world of good and probably even provide the Spaniards the best match winning goal of the tournament in a crucial match like the finals of World Cup 2010. Maybe Del Bosque can risk Torres for another 45 mins in his search for that one moment.

  • Comment number 44.

    Hello, i am from spain and thx a lot for your posts and support.

    This is my diagnostic:

    1. DelBosque is not capable to hand in this team.
    2. Casillas and Torres must go out but i dont think DelBosque has the balls for it.
    3. Xavi is not playing like always and he is the best player of Spain so far. If Xavi plays better, Spain will score, and this will happen sooner or later.
    4. You ppl dont know much about "Pedro" but all spanish fans want him on the field. He is awesome in Barcelona. I dont think Delbosque will have the balls for it :(

    Cheers

  • Comment number 45.

    I agree with Mike (5), Spain has improved slightly from the first match of the tournament. I think Del Bosque is making a mistake by using an out of fit like Torres and two equal man like Xavi Alonso and Busquets.

  • Comment number 46.

    From Spain's performances I can hardly find any evidence to suggest that they are capable of winning the World Cup. They have been gifted a few goals during the tournament and were very fortunate against Chile. Portugal are a very ordinary, ageing side and Spain struggled against them . Brazil or Argentina final unless we get some shocking decisions in favour of european teams.

  • Comment number 47.

    Spain's record on possession so far - 67%, 66%, 59%, 62% - respectively makes a compelling case for continued success in this tournament. They have been in control in all their matches so far and but for a bit of horrendous defending and poor finishing against Switzerland they'd have remain undefeated. Del Bosque will use Torres and Llorente up front to partner Villa and they've got so many good midfielders they are spoilt for choice. Just imagine having Navas, Fabregas and Silva et al as a second string?

    All the signs are they are going to get better and add the World Cup to the European Championship.

  • Comment number 48.


    Teams with big names and a bit of positive history of achievements have been slow starters in this World Cup. Less fancied teams have played entertaining football. Spain has fabulous striking and midfield options. On paper Vicente del Bosque has a side that looks good for a longer stay in South Africa. When in their elements Villa, Iniesta, Xavi, Torres and Silva are capable of playing breath taking football. Best wishes.


    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 49.

    This match is going to be very close, Holland is going to win 2-1 with sneijder being named Man of the Match after the final whistle, mark my words. Come on Orange.

  • Comment number 50.

    Very well said. Once Llorente came, there was a different Spanish side which people got to see.

    I do not understand why Mr Bosque is not playing Llorente and put Pedro in the semi-finals. If it was not for Pedro,Spain would have won the semifinals by 2 goals.He was clearly marked by 2 defenders and he could have easily passed the ball to Torres but he was VERY VERY SELFISH.Immediately he was substituted and that was a VERY good decision by Bosque.

    I think Bosque must start with Torres itself in the final or with Llorente with Pedro in the bench.

    Both the teams are equally strong and almost equally talented but the cup will go to the nation which is better (plays well) on that day.

    Whatever happens a new champion will be born and that is the best thing that this world cup being hosted in Africa for the 1st time is giving to the world.

  • Comment number 51.

    the play-off should be a better watch than the final;the Germans beat ordinary if not poor teams with a little help while Spains fire-power are'nt gelling as the crunch is 'nigh'.whereas Uruguay and Argentina are both forward thinking teams so if their defence gets breached they're sure in their abilities to win

  • Comment number 52.

    Not a bad article but let me ask you one question? since when where portugal a force! i mean compared to the italians, or germans i wouldnt call them a force, they had just scrapped qualification through a play off with bosnia hardly a challenge!. They had just beaten england on pens to get through the semis!, and lost the euro to a very medicore greek team so to call them an force is an insult.

    Interesting that the spanish and the dutch have had some of the worlds talanted players however egos and mentality got in way for both teams progessing far!. The dutch had problems due to egos and superstars clashing with each other, as for the spanish too much clashing within the real and barca players clashing in the squads.

 

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