Paraguay aim to thwart fluid Spanish midfield

JOAHNNESBURG - Paraguay will focus on thwarting the Spanish midfield's customary dominance of possession in their World Cup quarter-final at Ellis Park on Saturday, said coach Gerardo Martino.

The European champions typically control the ball for 65-70 percent of matches, Martino told a news conference on Friday, and Paraguay would try to close down players like Xavi and Andres Iniesta, win the ball and hit Spain on the break.

"Tomorrow's match is not so much about improving the passing in our midfield but to keep Spain from passing it around," said Martino, whose unfancied side have only conceded one goal in open play in four matches in South Africa.

"It'll also be about who has the stamina, the fight, the heart and the ability to make the most of the scoring chances," the Argentine added.

Paraguay have reached the quarter-finals for the first time, having previously lost to European opponents three times in the last 16.

Martino acknowledged it would be a stiff task preventing David Villa adding to his tally of four goals, with the Spain striker in blistering form even as attack partner Fernando Torres has flopped on his return from knee surgery.

"It is certainly very difficult to neutralise such a player who is on such good form," Martino said of Villa.

"He has this enormous goalscoring capacity and very few attackers have that kind of determination.

"But we will take steps to ensure he cannot be decisive in tomorrow's match the way he has been in previous matches."

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