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Spain vs Paraguay: Three reasons Spain will likely beat Paraguay

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Matt Dunham/AP

(Read caption) Spain players, front row from left, Iker Casillas, Andres Iniesta, David Villa, Xavi Hernandez, Carles Puyol, back row from left, Sergio Busquets, Sergio Ramos, Joan Capdevila, Xabi Alonso, Gerard Pique, and Fernando Torres, pose for a team photo before the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Spain and Portugal on June 29. Spain won, advancing to play Paraguay.

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Spain vs Paraguay is an obvious mismatch – European champions against a small country making its first appearance in a World Cup quarterfinal. The last time they met in the tournament, in 2002, Spain comfortably cruised past the South Americans 3-1.

But such are Spain’s strengths that their fans and admirers around the world are right to look beyond the limited Paraguayans and toward a mouthwatering semifinal with either Germany or Argentina.

Here are three reasons for Spain's fans to expect that to happen:

1) David Villa. The Spaniard is the tournament’s joint top scorer and arguably the world’s most lethal striker with a preposterous 42 goals in 62 international appearances. He has scored four so far in South Africa, including two contenders for the goal of the tournament – the slaloming run and curler against Honduras, and the long-range bomb against Chile. There was a hint of offside about his winner against Portugal but that will not worry Coach Vicente del Bosque, who will instead have seen the strike as further evidence that he has in Villa a goal-scorer who can undo even the most defensive of teams, as Paraguay are sure to be.

2) Tiki-taka style of play. Spain holds onto possession for huge chunks of the game by means of circulating the ball endlessly on its conveyor belt of quick one-touch passes, which means Paraguay will be starved of chances to create chances. Xavi, Andrés Iniesta, and Xabi Alonso will set out not to give them a touch. Against Portugal, Spain just held onto the ball and utterly demoralized its opponent. In that game Spain had 61 percent of possession, which is the key to success at the highest levels of international soccer.

3) Variety of armor. If Spain needs to mix it up to break down an obdurate Paraguay, it can bring on Cesc Fabregas (who you feel would stroll into every other midfield in the tournament). The Arsenal captain can play tiki-taka with the rest of them but he also likes to go on rampaging forward charges and always fancies his chances from distance. Fernando Llorente is a more traditional target man that Spain can bring in to beef up its presence in the box, handy when in Jesus Navas you have the winger who has crossed the ball more than anyone else in the tournament.

Don't buy the argument? Read three reasons why Portugal will likely beat Spain.

IN PICTURES: Top 12 Goals of the Second Week and Top 10 Goals of the First Week

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World Cup 101:

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