Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Preview of Round of 16. Match 8: Spain v Portugal

This is La Furia Roja versus Selecção das Quinas. It's the clash of the Iberian neighbours - one of the biggest rivalries in world football. This is two teams who can play sumptuous football, love to attack and have a number of household names in their teams.

The most recent chapter of their rivalry was Euro 2004 in which they were drawn together in the Group stage. Going into the final game against Portugal Spain were level with Greece on top of the group, on four points and needed just a draw against Portugal to progress. Instead they lost 1-0 and Portugal ultimately made the final.

Spain came into World Cup 2010 as favourites but are yet to really live up to their billing. They were stunned 1-0 by Switzerland in the opening group game in which despite looking good lacked the penetration to break them down. They have since bounced back from this to defeat Honduras 2-0 and Chile 2-1 to take top spot in Group H.

Portugal have also yet to really light up the tournament but they are a side who are very hard to break down. They are yet to concede a goal at World Cup 2010 having recorded two 0-0 draws with Ivory Coast and Brazil, either side of a 7-0 drubbing of North Korea. They have a very good recent defensive record but they rely too much on their midfield to score goals as they don't really have any notable strikers.

Neither side have players suspended and the only injury of note is that Alonso is struggling to be fit for Spain. If he doesn't make it then Martinez should start. Deco is back from injury for Portugal but with the form Tiago is in it will be surprising if he starts.

Key players


Villa has scored three of Spain's four goals thus far and is looking in the mood.

Iniesta is one of the best midfielders in the world.

Casillas is captain and one of the best goalkeepers around.


Ronaldo has finally broken his international goalscoring duck of around 18 months. Perhaps this will be the impetus he needs to break the shackles. He always looks dangerous and is incredibly skilful. Maybe this is the day he lights up World Cup 2010

Tiago has been in fantastic form in midfield.

Coentrao is a brilliant left-back who performs at a consistently high level.

Expectations: This is a mouth-watering clash that people will hope lives up to expectations. Spain should have more of the possession and more of the early attacks on goal. Portugal will look to keep it tight and counter-attack with pace, poise and penetration. If there is an early goal this match could end up being a classic but the longer it stays 0-0 the more likely people are to be disappointed. Both sides will be hungry to reach the quarter-final - especially as they will both back themselves to beat Paraguay when they get there.

No comments: