Villar: Paraguay must close down Spain

Jul 1, 2010 - 1:20 PM By KARL RITTER Associated Press Writer

CENTURION, South Africa(AP) -- Goalkeeper Justo Villar says his Paraguay lineup has a game plan to stop European champion Spain in the World Cup quarterfinals: "Don't give them any space."

Villar, who turned 33 on Wednesday, plays for Valladolid in the Spanish league, so he has a good idea of what to expect in the quarterfinal at Ellis Park on Saturday.

"It's going to be a good match where you will see two types of football," Villar said. "One side trying to attack skillfully while we try to stop them and then try to take advantage of our chances."

Paraguay has relied on its disciplined defense to reach the quarterfinals for the first time in the country's history. It only allowed one goal in the group stage, in a 1-1 draw with 2006 champion Italy, and beat Japan in the second round in a penalty shootout after both teams had failed to score after extra time.

"Our football has always been about a lot of hard work and tactics," Villar said after the team practiced Wednesday.

In qualifying for the World Cup, Paraguay finished third in South America behind Brazil and Chile, and ahead of Argentina and Uruguay. All five teams made the round of 16 in South Africa.

But in South Africa the team is missing its top forward, Salvador Cabanas, who was the victim of a shooting in January in a Mexico City bar. Cabanas survived, but still has a bullet lodged in his head.

"We spoke to him last night and he was happy to hear from us," striker Nelson Valdez said. "We keep in touch. It's always a great joy to hear him speak."

Paraguay's players have dedicated their success at the tournament to Cabanas.

"He is always with us, even though he's not here," Valdez said. "We pray for him before and after every match."

At the end of the news conference, Paraguayan journalists sang Villar a birthday song and officials from the country's football federation presented him with a chocolate cake.

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