Spain go through to the quarterfinals on the slimmest of margins, but thanks to a moment of brilliance from David Villa in the 63rd minute, the Spanish finally are starting to live up to expectations. Despite only scoring once, Spain certainly deserved this win. They dominated possession, and brought the best out of the Portuguese defenders, who played admirably. Cristiano Ronaldo failed to shine, but Spain utilized all of its weapons to go through.
Itís not often we see a match between the neighbouring Portugal and Spain. The last time the two sides played was 6 years ago in the Euro 2004. They both needed to win the final group stage to qualify for the quarter-finals. Portugal won 1-0 thanks to a Nuno Gomes strike.
There is a social, cultural, and historical rivalry between the countries and neither of them wants to lose. Despite both nations cooperating well over the past years and becoming close allies, that relationship will be non-existent today. The rivalry between the two may not be at the same level as a Germany v England or Argentina v Brazil, but it is still an intense derby. Pride and reputation is on the line and a defeat will be a huge blow to either side.
Cristiano Ronaldo will be one to watch. He hasnít shined at this World Cup and needs to focus more on the team rather than himself. Hopefully he will finally emulate his club form for his country and drive them forwards. Furthermore, the only ďstrongĒ nation he has scored against was Holland in 2004. The pressure is on and the captain knows he must perform, but passing the solid Spanish defense wonít be easy.
Itís hard to pinpoint one top player from such a talented and complete Spanish team. Therefore, Portugal must watch out for the entire team as they are all dangerous and quality players. The likes of Iniesta, Xavi, Villa, Torres, Ramos, etc will be a constant threat for Portugal and closing them down will be crucial. Spain are not playing their best football and Portugal will be their first fierce encounter, if they play at their top level they could thrash a weak Portugal. However, they have created many chances and scored few, their innefiency could cost them the result.
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