World Cup Preview from The Sports Network|
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
(All times Eastern)
Spain (2-1-0) vs. Portugal (1-0-2), 2:30 p.m.
Cape Town, South Africa (Sports Network) - Portugal escaped the group stage of
the FIFA World Cup without allowing a goal, including a 0-0 tie against Brazil
in the final match of the round.
Portugal was rewarded with a round of 16 match against Spain, which will offer
another huge test for goalkeeper Eduardo and the Portuguese defense on Tuesday
at Green Point Stadium.
Third-ranked Portugal has allowed only three goals in its last 19 matches, but
they face elimination against second-ranked Spain, which features one of the
most dynamic offenses in the world.
"We've only conceded three goals in our last 19 games and that's a record that
means a lot to me and the team," Eduardo said. "We defend as a unit and we
work hard for each other."
Although Portugal can feel good about its shutouts of Ivory Coast and Brazil,
it failed to score in those matches as well. Portugal did score seven goals
against North Korea, but it won't find such a weak opponent at this point.
However, Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo believes the team is capable of another
run. Portugal advanced to the semifinals four years ago and finished fourth.
"We feel we have a chance and we are very confident going into the rest of the
tournament," Ronaldo said.
Spain rebounded from an opening-game defeat to Switzerland with victories over
Honduras and Chile, and with a "weight off our shoulders," according to David
Villa, is back on track to capture its first World Cup title.
The Spaniards avoided a round of 16 game against Brazil by winning Group H,
but "what mattered was winning and qualifying," boss Vincente del Bosque
Now Spain, which captured Euro 2008 and entered the World Cup as a co-favorite
along with Brazil, enters the knockout stage full of confidence.
"Football has been a bit unfair on us given the way we play," Villa said, "but
you gain strength from adversity."
Spain has essentially played two knockout matches already after its 1-0 defeat
to the Swiss, so it should be easy for the team to carry a do-or-die attitude
in the official knockout stage.
Portugal and Spain have never advanced to the World Cup final, and one of the
two sides will have to wait another four years after their clash on Tuesday.
06/28 13:27:47 ET