Spain have stuttered so far, but should still have too much for Paraguay in the last eight, says Jamie Redknapp.
Last Updated: 02/07/10 6:17pm
It's amazing. Here are Spain on the verge of a semi-final spot and you have to say, they haven't really got going.
Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Xabi Alonso and certainly Fernando Torres, really haven't leapt out in any of the games so far. But they have got a formation that works very well and in David Villa, they have one of the players of the tournament so far.
The lad has been unbelievable. I think it's fair to say they would have struggled without him. It's not just his goals either - as good as they've been - he just looks so confident, so sharp. I can only think of Mesut Ozil and Lionel Messi who have been as good.
Villa's form could not be a greater contrast to Torres - and maybe the Liverpool striker's form is one of the reasons he is looking so good. I am sure it is all down to that knee op he had at the end of the season. It's not like he's not getting into positions, or getting chances and he certainly doesn't look as frustrated and out-of-sorts as someone like Wayne Rooney has done.
Torres' touch just isn't there yet. He's getting into positions but balls that usually stick are bouncing off. That just looks to me like he needs more time; we have seen it with Liverpool where he takes a few games back to get into his rhythm and I do think he will come good before these finals are over.
Spain as a side have pretty much stuttered along in general. Alonso and Sergio Busquets haven't looked brilliant in that midfield, I still have my doubts defensively about Sergio Ramos and Iker Casillas has not looked his most comfortable.
But quite how Paraguay go out and exploit any of those weaknesses is a tough question; if I knew the answer to stopping Spain I would be out in South Africa right now.
In Paraguay's favour they are compact and they do defend well. They don't give away many chances, never mind goals, so I do see them keeping this one tight. But I just have a feeling that after an hour or so, they will tire and then you would expect Spain to really make them pay.
Quite what Paraguay coach Gerardo Martino does, I'm not sure. We saw what happened to Portugal when they tried to stifle Spain and if they are going to spring a major surprise, the Paraguayans are going to need to show a lot more going forward.
Before the tournament we were led to believe they would be bold and attack sides, but I haven't seen any of that. The fact that Roque Santa Cruz, Lucas Barrios and Nelson Valdez, their three strikers, have not got a goal between them, says it all.
But they are hard to beat and they will make difficult for a side I tipped to win it a few weeks ago. I've got to say if you were to ask me to back a side halfway through the tournament, I would probably go for Brazil or Argentina first, but that's not to say Spain can't - and won't - win it.
It only takes a moment of magic from someone for it all to click in place and then we all know what they're capable of.
And it is worrying to think they have barely got going. If you were writing their school report it would be satisfactory, but could do better. And that might be bad news for Paraguay.
Spain win - I do think this will be tight, simply because of the way Paraguay line up. But Spain are so patient, they will pass anyone to death and if you back off them, it plays right into their hands. And when they are passing, passing, passing, it tires the opposition out so while I can see this staying close for an hour or so, I do expect Spain's class to tell. I'd go for the draw at half-time, Spain full-time.
Fernando Torres - I know I kept backing Rooney to come good, but Torres is different. He just needs minutes on the pitch, although Vincente del Bosque seems to think tiredness is a problem - as coaches have tended to do with all the Premier League players. But I am sure it will all fall into place for Torres before long.