ROUND OF 16: PARAGUAY VS. JAPAN
Where: Pretoria. Time: 7 a.m. PDT.
TV: ESPN, ESPN Deportes, Univision. Radio: Sirius/XM, KLYY-FM 97.5, KDLD-FM/KDLE-FM 103.1.
The buzz: Neither team has ever reached the quarterfinals, so one team will make history. Paraguay allowed just one goal in cruising through group play, helping eliminate defending champion Italy in the process. But unlike years past, Paraguay is no longer just a defensive team despite having lost Salvador Cabanas, their leading scorer in qualifying, to a near-fatal shooting in a Mexican bar in January. Experienced striker Roque Santa Cruz now leads the attack, one that features Borussia Dortmund teammates Lucas Barrios and Nelson Valdez. The Samurai Blue offense, meanwhile, pretty much starts and stops with Keisuke Honda. And while other teams have spent much of the World Cup complaining about the unpredictable Jabulani match ball, the Japanese have mastered it, scoring twice on free kicks in their final group-play win over Denmark. The Japanese also push the pace, which gives them an edge in fitness over most rivals. “With their pace and agility, Japan is a team hard to play against,” Santa Cruz said. “So we have to come out very focused and keep running throughout the game.”
ROUND OF 16: SPAIN VS. PORTUGAL
Where: Green Point Stadium, Cape Town. Time: 11:30 a.m. PDT.
TV: ESPN, ESPN Deportes, Univision. Radio: Sirius/XM, KLYY-FM 97.5 and KDLD-FM 103.1.
The buzz: So, it comes down to the battle of the Iberian Peninsula for a place in the quarterfinals. On the one side is Spain, the pre-tournament favorite, which has rebounded from an opening loss to Switzerland and beaten Honduras and Chile. And then, Portugal, featuring the world’s most expensive player, Cristiano Ronaldo, who earns his keep with Real Madrid in Spain. Coach Carlos Queiroz’s team has had scoreless ties against the Ivory Coast and Brazil sandwiched around a seven-goal thrashing of North Korea in Cape Town. Spanish striker David Villa, already with three goals, needs four more to become his country’s all-time leading goal scorer. Portugal has the best defensive record in the tournament and has yet to give up a goal. Ronaldo has scored only once so far in the World Cup and he also has a yellow card, meaning that another on Tuesday would keep him sidelined if Portugal reaches the quarterfinals, where the opposition will be either Paraguay or Japan.
—Grahame L. Jones