Welcome, football fans. Bryan Sakakeeny here on this Fourth of July weekend to guide you through this final quarterfinal match between Paraguay and Spain.
The last spot in the semifinals is on the line in this classic David vs. Goliath matchup.
Paraguay has embodies South America's success in this World Cup: Strong, disciplined defense to go along with a quick and potent offense that can counterattack at the drop of a hat. They blazed through the Group Stages and their Round of 16 match and are hoping the clock doesn't strike midnight on their Cinderella run.
Spain, on the other hand are the defending European champions. They dropped their first game in embarrassing fashion to Switzerland, but have rebounded in style and are looking to use their world class talent to finally make a breakthrough in the World Cup.
Feel free to comment at any time, voice your opinions or tell me what you make of the match's proceedings.
As always, enjoy the match!
This game had everything you could ask for: Great defense, clear chances, awesome saves, penalty kick drama, a late winner and a gleaming fight from the underdogs. Paraguay fought valiantly against one of the world's best but once again it's Viva Espana as Villa plays the role of hero again.
You've got to admire Paraguay's run in this Cup, they've really put together some great games and showed today that it's no mistake they were playing in the quarterfinal, however, sometimes the ball doesn't bounce your way and the cream rises to the top.
Cardozo is inconsolable after missing that penalty kick, Spain is moving on to the semifinal!
93'- No team in the tournament better equipped to hold the ball than Spain, they're doing just that.
90:00- Three minutes to be added on.
89'- St. Iker with a divine save! Barrios with a shot from an angle, Casillas blocks it but the rebound squirts out to Santa Cruz who fires it from point blank range and can only find the body of Casillas. Unbelievable stuff here.
88'- Santana booked for a body tackle on Busquets, looked more out of frustration than anything. Spain will take their time on this free kick.
86'- Does Paraguay have the firepower to catch this game?
85'- Puyol off for Marchena, Puyol looks pissed. Lucas Barrios on for Carceres.
83'- Wouldnt you know it!? Iniesta sears right through the middle of Paraguay's otherwise rock solid defense. He leaves it for Pedro who sends it across goal and off of the left post. Paraguay appeared to be lucky for a minute, but the deflection fell right to the feet of David Villa. He's not going to miss from there (although it did ring the woodwork on it's way in). 1-0 Spain.
81'- It's getting to the point where Spain have to swallow their pride and just go for it. They've got themselves in a dog fight here.
75'- Paraguay under mounting pressure from Spain, so much talent running at them, it's nothing short of a miracle they've been able to hold out for this long. Pedro comes on for Xabi Alonso, no doubt he'll be hoping for a Spanish win or else he'll be facing some serious scrutiny.
73'- Santa Cruz comes on for Valdez, who appears to have taken a bit of a knock.
72'- Xavi trying for the Ronaldinho vs. David Seaman free kick, it sails wide though.
71'- Valdez sends Busquets to the carpet. Morel is booked for arguing. Free kick in a good position for Spain.
67'- Paraguay came out playing aggressive defensively, but they were on their heels a lot of the time, now they look confident. We could see a brilliant ending to this one.
65'- Could you have envisioned a more dramatic scenario after Ghana vs. Uruguay last night? This certainly comes close.
65'- Vera is on for Barreto.
63'- Now Iniesta with a bending shot, beautifully waited on by Villar and he punches it t safety.
62'- He's stuffed! Villar denies Alonso the second time around, same side too. Can you believe this? It's still 0-0. Fabregas taken down on the confusion after, should've been another penalty but the referee didn't catch it.
61'- Goal, Alonso! No, wait...Spain encroached! Penalty to be re-taken.
60'- Now look at this! Penalty to Spain! Villa runs the counterattack and is dragged down by Alcaraz. Spain pleading for a red card because it was a goal scoring opportunity. They might've had a point, Villa was clean through.
58'- Denied!!! Iker Casillas reads Cardozo like a children's book, guesses right and smothers the rebound. Casillas who's had a decent World Cup at best comes up huge.
57'- Penalty for Paraguay! Cardozo is clearly dragged down, good spot by the referee. It's a PK on Pique.
56'- Del Bosque opting to send on Cesc Fabregas for Torres. Torres' frustration in South Africa continues. Let's see how this change pans out for Spain, Cesc is creative, quick and has fresh legs.
55'- Anyone in the mood for some Fabregas?
52'- Paraguay still playing with a fiery passion on defense.
48'- Gotta love the Valdez/Puyol matchup in the middle of the pitch, good thing Valdez's goal was disallowed or else things would have gotten a bit "hairy", get it?
46'- Could we see Llorente again replacing Torres? He came on in the deadlock against Portugal and spiced things up for the Spanish. No changes to start the half.
46'- And we're off again.
Paraguay has been playing out of their skins. Noted for their great defense, they've also been able to turn a couple of good chances and truthfully should be up 1-0.
Spain has just appeared to be out of rythym. Their passes are off and the whole team seems to be out of sync. The second half seems to be another case of "cross your fingers and hope Villa bails us out".
Your money's got to be on Spain considering Paraguay will likely tire and give Spain more space to operate. However, don't be surprised if Paraguay sticks one and puts the Euro 2008 champs up against the ropes.
46'- Iniesta with a bad giveaway that leads to a long ball to Valdez on the counter. He's a quick little guy, he turns the Spanish defense but the shot doesn't match the buildup.
43'- Replay shows the Valdez disallowed goal was a very, very close call.
41'- Valdez! Nelson Haedo Valdez finds the ball at his feet after a great long ball. He finishes cooly but he's called offsides. Spain responds immediately but it comes to nothing.
39'- Ramos overlapping on the right wing. Paraguay are completely bossing their own box. Ensuing corner for Spain is swept away.
35'- So close! Paraguay looking for the counter punch on Spain. A great ball is played in from the wing, Santana lays out for it but it misses by inches.
34'- Good ideas from Spain but the right decisions aren't being made at all times. Iniesta receives the ball on the wing and puts it into Torres who is double covered. Iniesta probably should have held on to it longer in truth.
32'- Iniesta taken down, Spain is awarded a free kick.
31'- Paraguay bravely not succumbing to this flurry of Spanish pressure.
29'- OOOH! Capdevilla with a centering pass to Xavi at about 25 yards out. It lifts up for him and Xavi blasts it on the volley. Good shot but it dipped just a bit too late and clears the bar by inches.
27'- Torres trying the same thing, getting to the byline easily. He's swallowed up by the pack of killer candy-canes and Torres' struggles continue.
26'- Now Villa getting down the wing and trying to force a ball into the middle, this is more like it from Spain.
25'- Busquets getting forward on a couple consecutive possessions for Spain. La Furija Roja looking to catch Paraguay off guard by running deep players at them.
21'- Great opportunity off the free kick from Paraguay. Alcaraz blew right past Busquets but couldn't flick it on target.
16'- Ramos with a searching cross. Villar punching it away. Xavi's patience seems to be running thin when it comes to spreading out the Spanish attack.
10'- You have to appreciate Paraguay's intensity coming out of the gates, but you have to wonder how long it can last, especially with Spain's quality. Paraguay are going for broke in search of an early goal.
9'- Casillas with a lazy clear, Valdez is able to close down the space and block his kick back over Spain's byline. Great hustle.
7'- Both teams are showcasing airtight marking at the moment.
4'- Paraguay on the front foot straight away, getting men forward at an alarming rate.
1'- Santana with a nice little one, two. He's played in and gets an early shot but it's well stopped by Casillas.
1'- (Joker voice) And...here...we...go.
2:25EST- The South American dominance was established early on in this World Cup, but who woudl have thought that Paraguay and Uruguay would last longer than Argentina and Brazil?
2:24EST- Anthem time.
2:22EST- America's been eliminated, didn't anybody tell John Harkes?
2:09EST- Projected Starting Lineups:
2:08EST- Blog is live for Paraguay/Spain.