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Spain vs. Paraguay
World Cup Prediction - Analysis - Betting Odds
It's no surprise Spain is the heavy favorite for Saturday's Quarter final match against Paraguay. Spain's recent 3 match win streak is making the 1-0 loss against Switzerland in the opening game seem like ancient history. Paraguay, on the other hand, have been unable to put up a regulation goal since the 2-0 win against Slovakia on June 20th. Paraguay does however have a tournament record unblemished by any losses, 1-0-3.
David Villa has been having a superb world cup tournament, notching 4 out of the teams 5 goals. Fernando Torres, Spain's other starting forward, seems to be rounding into form after a recent knee surgery. He showed strength with any early strike that was blocked, in the game against Portugal. With Torres getting stronger the Villa-Torres tandem that won the Euro cup in 2008 will be back to championship form. Another bright spot for Spain is the lethal mobility of defenders Romos and Capdevila who have not hesitated to join in offensive efforts. While Spain seems to be only rising since their early defeat Paraguay has been struggling offensively despite making it through to the quarter finals, by penalty kicks. An Interesting stat about Paraguay is that their 3 top forwards are scoreless thus far in the tournament. Cruz, Barrios and Valdez are all professional club players but have not managed to put the ball in the net in the last 4 games. Barrios and Valdez have no excuses as they are teammate for German club team, Borussia Dortmund, and should know each other's tendencies very well. Needless to say, Paraguay is badly needing some production from their front line. All 3 of Paraguay's tournament goals have come from midfield and defensive players, which have also only giving up 1 goal all tournament in the first game against defending champion's Italy.
Although Paraguay's defense has been performing very well, Spain has a dominant statistical advantage in this matchup. Offensively, Spain is amongst the leading teams in almost all categories, 39.2% shot accuracy from 74 total shots, 34 corner kicks gained, and an amazing 81% pass completion rate. Paraguay shot accuracy is decent and 40.7% but this is only from 54 total shots. Paraguay struggles with gaining corner advantages, only 13, and with pass completion rate, only 68%. This passing rating is going to hurt Paraguay especially against a Spanish team on the ball defense that boasts 11 tackles for possession compared to 8 for Paraguay. Tactically both teams seem to be comfortable with a 4-3-3 set, Spain also uses 4-4-2, putting only Villa and Torres up front. An interesting point is that when Spain lost to the Suisse they used an awkward 4-5-1 set when they were still testing Torres' strength, don't expect to see that arrangement again anytime soon.
Wagering odds for this event have established Spain as a heavy -250 favorite in 3 way pools, putting Paraguay as a big +700 underdog. A draw in regulation plus stoppage will bring +330. On the goal line, Spain is laying a full goal at -130 and giving Paraguay a full goal puts the odds at even money. The problem with wagering on Spain for the goal line is that even though -130 seems to be a very good price, all of Spain's tournament wins so far have been by exactly one goal. Which of course, would constitute a push on the goal line. The total goals for the match is set at 2.5 where the under is priced at -175 and +135 for the over. (Odds courtesy of Bodog.com) Another interesting set of odds to consider is 'tournament top goal scorer'. Odds are as follows, Villa(4) (ESP) 2-1, Higuain(4) (ARG) 11/4, Fabiano(3) (BRZ) 9-2, Mueller(3) (GER) 14-1. Number in parenthesis after name is current total goals.
Even though Spain is a heavy favorite and a 1-0 score is very likely, this match is sure to be an exciting display of world class football. It can be seen stateside at 2:30 pm eastern, 11:30 am pacific on ESPN.
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