Watch Live on: ABC, ESPN3.com, ESPN 3D, MobileTV
2:30 PM ET, July 3, 2010
Ellis Park Stadium
Last 5 Matches
Its stunning opening loss a distant memory, Spain appears to have regained its first-class form heading into a World Cup quarterfinal match in which it will be heavily favored.A bigger threat than Paraguay might be Spain's own history of disappointment.The reigning European Champions haven't been to the semifinals of soccer's biggest stage in 60 years, a drought they'll finally look to erase Saturday at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.Spain carried an infamous history of international frustration into every major tournament prior to Euro 2008, winning a title that La Furia Roja hoped would help them shed their reputation as failures.A 1-0 opening loss to Switzerland put the heat back on coach Vicente del Bosque's squad, but it's recovered nicely. Wins over Honduras and Chile allowed the Spaniards to win Group H, and David Villa's 63rd-minute strike -- his fourth goal of the tournament -- against Portugal on Tuesday sealed a spot in the quarterfinals."We never lost our confidence," said Villa, tied with Argentina's Gonzalo Higuain and Slovakia's Robert Vittek for the tournament scoring lead. "We know the potential we have and what we can give."La Furia Roja have yet to shed their designation as underachievers at the World Cup. Spain has never won a quarterfinal contest, finishing in fourth place in 1950 when there were no elimination matches -- just initial and final group stages.Facing Paraguay should give it a great chance to shake that label. La Albrirroja haven't scored in their last two matches, advancing past Japan 5-3 on penalty kicks Tuesday.Paraguay dominated possession against the Japanese, something it doesn't expect to repeat against Spain in the country's first World Cup quarterfinal."It's going to be a good match where you will see two types of football," goalkeeper Justo Villar said, adding that Paraguay "(won't) give them any space.""One side trying to attack skillfully while we try to stop them and then try to take advantage of our chances."While Villa will certainly be a marked man, his partner up front has provided little threat thus far. Fernando Torres hasn't looked like a world-class striker in his return from knee surgery, consistently struggling to find space while Villa shines.Fernando Llorente came on in the 59th minute for the Liverpool star against Portugal, and his presence seemed to open up Spain's offensive attack. Still, Del Bosque said Torres will get the nod against a Paraguay defense that hasn't conceded a goal since an opening 1-all draw against Italy."Our striker right now is Fernando (Torres)," Del Bosque said. "He's played four games, a lot of minutes and will play more. We've got full confidence in him while we also know that Fernando Llorente brings a lot of qualities too."Spain and Paraguay were grouped together in the 1998 and 2002 World Cups. The teams played a scoreless draw in France, and Spain won 3-1 four years later in South Korea.