Spain: Casillas; Puyol, Hierro, Nadal, Juanfran;
Luis Enrique (Iván Helguera 46'), Baraja, Valerón (Xavi 84'), De
Pedro; Diego Tristán (Morientes 46'), Raúl.
Paraguay: Chilavert; Arce, Ayala, Gamarra, Cáceres, Caniza (Struway 77'); Paredes, Toro Acuña, Gavilán; Sata Cruz, Cardozo (Campos 62'). 5-3-2.
0-1. 09. Puyol (own goal). Turned ball into net after Casillas saved from Arce.
2-0. 53. Morientes. Powerful header into net from De Pedro left sided corner.
2-1. 70. Morientes. Tap in from close up after Chilvert missed De Pedro cross.
3-1. 82. Hierro (penalty). After Paredes held down Raúl as he turned on ball.
Spain has won the World Cup! At least if it finishes now, for example if all the Korean and Japanese stadium workers go on indefinite strike against all the hooligans in their countries or if FIFA decide they are bankrupt, then all the teams qualified for the last sixteen will be declared joint winners. And that's us! We are the only ones so far to win through, and we still have a game left.
We expected it we suppose. That nice Mr. Blatter told our football president Angel Villar that, thank you very much for supporting me in the elections and I think Spain will do very well in the World Cup this year. Clearer than that, water, as we say in Spain. Does anyone remember the Spitting Image television comedy program years ago where Ferdinand Marcos becomes part of Thatcher's cabinet, and starts by saying that since he joined, her party was already up spectacularly in the polls? "At this rate we will win the next general election", said the muppety Ms. Thatcher. "You already have", replied the muppety Filipino president.
Well Camacho is a man who likes to cover his odds, and he does not take any chances anyway with his starting line up. The same eleven players line up for this one, so Iván Helguera, who was moaning about not being in last week's team, is not in this one either (incidentally some of the team are sporting new hair cuts - Juanfran has been plying his other trade during the week). We would like to see Mendieta in as well, but who do you leave out with our midfield playing so well? Paraguay's Italian manager Cesare Maldini shows his respect by playing with five central defenders, with ex-Atlético Madrid defenders Ayala and Gamarra in defence and Zaragoza's much sought after Toro Acuña commanding midfield.
But why do we open our big mouths? Less than ten minutes gone and a disaster. Casillas pushes out an angled shot from Chiqui Arce (pronounced cheeky arsy - honestly) and the ball flies at Puyol, standing a yard or two away. Maybe the Barcelona defender forgets where he is and suddenly sees the Real Madrid goalkeeper helpless in front of him. In a Spanish league match it is a dream come true, but here they are team mates. Puyol no, don't do it! But he has no time to get out of the way, and although he tries to steer the ball wide in the split second he has to react, he only succeeds in finding the corner of the net. Own goal and Paraguay one up.
Patience boys, there is plenty of time, and we know Paraguay will fade as they did against South Africa. We hope so anyway. But its hot out here, 33ºC and a lot of humidity, and although Raúl goes close twice with a chip which Chilavert tips over and a swivel shot which goes wide, we go in at the break behind. Camacho decides its time for a change. Tristán is limping, and Morientes is told to get changed, together with Helguera who is to replace Luis Enrique. Sacrificing a wide man on the right, although Baraja and/or Valerón may move out there.
The changes have worked, Camacho is a genius! Eight minutes gone and Morientes gets on the end of De Pedro's corner to power a header into the net. Now we are back on track. We are in charge, and Paraguay captain Chilavert looks a worried man in the South Americans' goal. He upset the Spanish camp when he apparently boasted in the papers that Spain were no good and he would score a couple of goals himself, although he later denied it saying it was an invention of the press.
Probably the best keeper in the world a few years ago, he looks a bit overweight, and he makes a bad mistake when De Pedro pulls a cross over from the left, missing his punch under Raúl's challenge. The ball falls into the area, and there is Morientes again to force it over the line with who knows what part of his anatomy. Gol, gol, gol, gol, gol to España, but Goran misses it as he is in the toilet again after losing a battle the night before with the local pickled cabbage, the Kim Chi, which is all the locals seem to eat around here!
It's still not over though, and Bayern Munich's Roque Santa Cruz (who also has a Spanish passport thanks to his grandfather) causes us some problems. Chilavert comes up to take a free kick, and brings the best save of the game out of Casillas, who has been looking a bit shaky tonight. But then Mr. Al Ghandour, another one of Mr. Blatter's fine referees, gives us another penalty just like they did in the first game, when Raúl is held back by Paredes.
Hierro, playing in his fourth World Cup, once again coolly sends Chilavert the wrong way to score his 29th goal for Spain, increasing the gap again over Raúl to three. At this rate the veteran defender is going to be Pichichi of the World Cup! We are already through, and the people who know about these things say we will probably be playing Eire in the next round. First of all we have to play South Africa, but Camacho has a great chance to rest some of his older players. Once Goran comes out of the loo we are going back to our hotel to celebrate.