Posts Tagged Gerrard Pique

5 Sexiest Bearded World Cup Players

Beards are sexy. Footballers are sexy. Here are the red hot results of what happens when you put the two together.


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World Cup Preview: Paraguay vs. Spain

This match will see history created regardless of which team wins as both Paraguay and Spain have never reached the Semi-final of a World Cup.

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Ranking: 31

Paraguay were never expected to reach the quarter-finals. They got a little lucky as all teams in their group didn’t play to their potential with Italy being the guiltiest of that crime. Paraguay managed to draw their games against Slovakia and Italy.  Against Japan, Paraguay won on penalties after goalless draw courtesy a Japan side that can defend beautifully but just can’t score. Today’s game against Spain is Paraguay’s chance to leave cynics dumfounded.  Gerardo Martino will most likely, go with a 4-4-2 formation with Nelson Valdez and Roque Santa Cruz leading Paraguay’s attack. Victor Caceres, who missed the match against Japan due to suspension, will be available for today’s match and should make the starting XI alongside Enrique Daniel Vera, Miguel Riveros and Aureliano Torres in midfield. Carlos Bonet, Paulo Da Silva, Antolin Alcarez and Claudio Morel will form Paraguay’s back four with Justo Villar in goal.

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Ranking: 2

Spain lost to Switzerland in their World Cup opener. This shock was probably the best thing that happened to La Furia Roja because since then Spain have simply got better and better with every game. Spain were sublime in their 1-0 win against Euro Finalists Portugal. They completely outplayed Portugal; the 1-0 score line not really doing justice to their performance. Spain undoubtedly have one of the best attacking line-ups and their coach Vincente Del Bosque will most likely put out a 4-3-3 formation. Fernando Torres will keep his position in the starting XI despite being terribly out of form. He along with David Villa and Andres Iniesta will lead Spain’s attack with Xavi Hernandez, Sergio Busquets, Xabi Alonso making up Spain’s midfield. At the back, Spain have quite a solid defence. Segio Ramos,Gerrard Pique, Carles Puyol, Joan Capdevilla form Spain’s defensive backbone with captain Iker Casillas in goal.

Manager Speak

I do not know if all teams have the heart of Paraguay. For over 20 days of the World Cup, nobody has matched us. – Gerardo Martino, Paraguay manager

“We know we’re in good shape. It’s been more than 30 days together training as a team and I think these players want to make history.” – Vincente Del Bosque, Spain manager

Stars to Watch Out For

Paraguay: Nelson Valdez, Roque Santa Cruz, Enrique Daniel Vera, Antolin Alcarez

Spain: David Villa, Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez

Go Figure!

Roque Santa Cruz is now without a goal in 799 minutes at the World Cup

Xavi created eight goalscoring chances in his last match against Portugal, no player has created more in a single game at this World Cup

Paraguay will be playing in their first-ever World Cup quarter-final

Spain have never won a quarter-final tie at the World Cup, losing two of their four quarter-finals on penalties including their most recent against South Korea

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World Cup Preview: Spain vs. Portugal

Two years ago, on this day, Spain beat Germany to break their major tournament jinx and lift the European Championship trophy. Today, they can continue on that tradition and take a very significant step towards breaking their World Cup hex by beating neighbours Portugal. The two teams have met 32 times in international football. Portugal have won just five matches, Spain 15 and there have been 12 draws. However, Spain have only beaten Portugal once in ten matches since 1958 and the last time the two teams met Portugal won 1-0, knocking Spain out of the 2004 Euro in the group stages.

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Ranking: 2

Spain entered the World Cup as favourites for the first time. They have always had a talented, entertaining team but since they always underachieved at major tournaments, no one really ever thought of them as favourites. All that changed however,with their 2008 win at the European Championships and now Spain have to live with the pressure of expectation every time they get on the pitch. It is probably this pressure to perform which saw Spain unable to score against Switzerland and also concede a very sloppy goal which made their last game in the group stages a must-win game. The European champions, however, have gotten over that shock dealt to them by the Swiss and have looked good against Honduras and Chile but that defeat showed other teams how to beat Spain.

Spain manager, Vincente Del Bosque will most likely play a 4-2-3-1 formation with Iker Casillas in goal. Sergio Ramos, Gerrard Pique, Carles Puyol, Joan Capdevilla will form Spain’s back four. Xabi Alonso who sprained his ankle during Spain’s 2-1 win over Chile, will most likely be replaced by Xavi Martinez who will play alongside Sergio Busquets in defensive mid-field. Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez and David Villa will make up Spain’s attacking midfield and support Fernando Torres in front.

Portugal have great wingers who pose a massive threat to Spain on the counter and Sergio Ramos and Joan Capdevilla will have to be extra sharp today.

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Ranking: 3

Portugal have Cristiano Ronaldo. That is all that most people seem to relate with Portugal. Cristiano is definitely one of those players that can change the complexion of any game and since Cristiano hasn’t been extremely effective for his national side, many people wrote off Portugal’s chances. However, Portugal have proved that although they may not play the prettiest of football at times, they have found a way of staying in the competition and getting results. They managed a very good albeit dull draw against Ivory Coast and then held Brazil. Anyone who can keep Brazil from scoring is dangerous in their own way. Portugal have transformed themselves in to a very good defensive side. They are yet to concede a goal in the World Cup and have kept 22 clean sheets in their last 26 matches. Furthermore, they have gone 19 games unbeaten under coach Carlos Queiroz. Portugal’s only weakness it seems is their inability to score goals and that they lack an out and out striker. However, they do have incredibly talented wingers in Cristiano Ronaldo and Simao Sabrosa who can catch any team on the counter. So even though, it seems impossible for any team to keep the very talented Spanish squad from scoring, Portugal just might. Also, if Cristiano Ronaldo can tame the Jabulani, Portugal would have a great advantage from set pieces especially since Iker Casillas and Spain are not the best, at defending set-pieces.

Portugal manager, Carlos Queiroz will most likely play a 4-3-3 formation with Eduardo in goal. Paulo Ferreira, Bruno Alves, Ricardo Carvalho, Fabio Coentrao will form ‘the great wall of Portugal’. Although Deco has recovered from the hip injury that forced him to miss Portugal’s final Group G game against Brazil, he is unlikely to be in the starting line-up as Tiago has done very well so far. Another player sure to miss out is the injured midfielder Danny. Pepe will most likely retain his position in Portugal’s midfield alongside Tiago and Raul Meireles and Portugal’s attack will be lead by Simao Sabrosa and Cristiano Ronaldo playing on the wing on either side of Liedson.

Although, Spain have to be the favourites going in to this match considering the quality they have in their team, Portugal cannot be counted out especially since they have a very good defence and have players that can be lethal on counter-attacks. The match bound to be a very close one and if it goes to extra time, then Portugal will win.

Manager Speak

“Portugal are going to be a very tough side. I take no satisfaction from the fact we’re up against Portugal instead of Brazil. They are both great national teams.”- Vincente Del Bosque, Spain manager

“We want to win this game from the very first minute.” – Carlos Queiroz, Portugal manager

Stars to Watch Out For

Spain: David Villa, Andres Iniesta,Xavi Hernandez, Fernando Torres

Portugal: Cristiano Ronaldo, Raul Meireles, Tiago, Simão Sabrosa

Go Figure!

David Villa has scored six goals in six starts at the World Cup and is now the all-time top scorer for Spain at the tournament.

Portugal have failed to score in their last two World Cup knockout matches – 0-0 (aet) against England in the quarter-final and a 1-0 defeat to France in the semi-final in 2006.

Spain have kept clean sheets in 26% of their World Cup games (nine out of 34) since the start of the 1982 tournament

Portugal have conceded just one goal in their last 12 internationals.

Spain were the first team since Hungary in 1986 not to collect a single card in the group stages of a World Cup tournament

If Portugal avoid defeat in this match they will set a new national team record of 20 games unbeaten in all competitions

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