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Spain ready to pull off a surprise


rhondathompson, [email protected]

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JOHANNESBURG – Spain believe they are ready to make history at the World Cup by winning a quarter-final match for the first time.Surprisingly, Spain have never advanced to a semi-final match at a World Cup in four opportunities between 1934 and 2002.Standing in their way at Johannesburg’s Ellis Park today is a resolute Paraguay team that are the most successful ever sent to a World Cup from the South American nation.“We’re in a situation where we can make history and we’re part of a team that has no guarantees of getting back here,” midfielder Cesc Fabregas said yesterday, “so we have to take advantage”.Spain have once reached the last four at a World Cup, at the quirky 1950 tournament when just 13 teams showed up in Brazil and the four group winners advanced to a round-robin pool to decide the honours.When the World Cup format has used a knockout bracket, Spain have always been stopped at the quarter-finals stage.Spain lost to South Korea on penalties after a goalless draw in a 2002 matchup remembered for disputed referee calls, and Roberto Baggio lifted Italy to a 2-1 victory in 1994. In 1986, Belgium prevailed in a shootout after a 1-1 draw, and 1934 hosts Italy ousted the Spanish 1-0 in a replay. (AP)

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