5th of July 2010

La Roja makes history reaching the semi final with Torres and Pedro (0-1)

July the seventh, semi final Germany-Spain and San Fermín day. La Roja returns to the elite of the World Cup 60 years later after a hard, hard and suffering victory against Paraguay. It took a lot of hard work and nerves to overcome all what happened at the second half. After a first half devoid of any interest, the second half seemed like a Tarantino’s script. Two penalties in four minutes, none scored, one goal of Villa with double pileup in the goalpost and Iker as the national saviour with a double point-black opportunity. It was hard, but the national team is still going forward in South Africa and will fight for a place in the final with one of the best teams of the championship. Besides, Germany waits eagerly to take the revenge of the great final of the 2008 Euro Cup, where they were defeated with a Torres' goal.

Fernando Torres played 55 minutes of his fourth match at the starting eleven, fifth of the championship. The ‘9’ worked hard and behind the scenes during the grey and tactical first half, suffering the pressure of the Guarani defence. Pedro jumped to the field at the second half substituting Xabi Alonso to revolutionize the match and play a decisive role in the Spanish goal. The rebound that Villa took advantage of to give Spain a place at the semi final was born on Pedro’s boots.

- The Paraguayan defence stops La Roja

Vicente del Bosque copied the starting eleven that all Spain was expecting: Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Piqué, Puyol, Capdevila, Busquets, Xabi Alonso, Xavi, Iniesta, Villa and Fernando Torres were the chosen to stop the Paraguayan force, who threw themselves to bit the ball. In their first move, Santana shot flat straight to the coal and Casillas cleared the ball. Their hard pressure stopped Spain, who tried to show their strength against a sharper and more powerful national team from the kick off.

The intensive attack lasted for twelve minutes. That was the time La Roja took to start showing the first flashes of their passing game, changing the ball from one touchline to the other waiting for a hole in the organized Guarani scheme. Iniesta and Xavi tried to slip in between the lines, Capdevila created danger on the left and Torres ran without rest over the area. The ‘9’ appeared also on the right touchline, playing as a winger to get to the line and create some danger on that side. Xavi tried to shot, but it went high.

While Spain was trying to find the keys, Paraguay bolted the door even more. Alcaraz and Da Silva led a very well positioned defence which prevented Spain to finish the moves. And they were not in a hurry. Loosing the ball all the time but waiting for an opportunity, as Switzerland did, to get the definitive advantage and bolt the door definitely. And that could be made by Valdez, who shot an offside strike which was disallowed at the 42’. The boring game continued till the half time, bounding the game with the tactical fight at the midfield.

- Villa and Iker save the match

The half time didn’t change the face of the game. Paraguay was still doing their game, well positioned and with a destroyer attitude. Also Spain, trying to find itself in between all that grey and defensive football. Torres ran over the area, receiving with his back to the Guarani defenders, who were watching closely. Nothing has changed and Del Bosque decided to make the first change, Premier Player for premier player, Torres for Cesc, that was the change to take the helm of the match. And the boat rolled to maintain the same course.

A madness of penalties in four thrilling minutes. The first one for Paraguay. A tugging of Piqué to Cardozo ended in a penalty. Iker guessed the shot and cleared it. And some minutes later, the same at the other area, but with another turn of the screw. Fault on Villa and Penalty shot by Xabi Alonso, straight to the goal, but the referee asked for the penalty to be retaken and the shot was cleared by Justo Villar. The rebound fell to Cesc Fabregas who was brought down by Villar. The referee failed to point to the spot before Ramos’ shot was cleared off the line.

The above mentioned events broke the rhythm of the match to give La Roja its natural color. Touch and touch, passing to the centre and arrivals of Iniesta and Villa. Xavi added himself to the attack with a crossed shot which crossed the area as if it was a howitzer. And another change of the coach. Pedro for Xabi Alonso. And the miracle came with the contribution of the player from the Canary Islands. After a great run from Iniesta, the Barcelona midfielder picked out Pedro in space. The winger’s effort came back off the upright falling to Villa, whose shot struck both posts before crossing the line. Villa exploded, the national team exploded, Spain exploded.

Now they had to maintain the result, and Iker Casillas played a decisive role in the victory after making a double save of a shot from the area. Pedro answered with a splendid move on the left touchline which ended with a pass to Villa, but the player from Asturias found again Justo Villar when he tried to shot for the third. At the end, explosion of joy between South Africa and Spain.

- Match Stats:

Paraguay: Villar, Veron, Morel, Da Silva, Alcaraz, Barreto (Vera, 64), Santana, Caceres (Barrios, 84), Riveros, Cardozo, Valdez (Santa Cruz, 74)

Booked: Morel, Alcaraz, Santana, Caceres

Spain: Casillas, Ramos, Pique, Puyol, Capdevilla, Busquets, Xabi Alonso (Pedro, 75), Xavi, Iniesta, Villa, Torres (Fabregas, 56)

Booked: Pique, Busquets

0-1 (81’) Villa catches a rebound and shoot striking both posts before crossing the line.

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