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Spain v Portugal - Match Preview
Published : 29 Jun 2010 16:56:30
Spain forward David Villa has launched a staunch defence of Fernando Torres and insists he is "totally convinced" his strike partner will regain his scoring touch.
Vicente Del Bosque's side meet Iberian rivals Portugal in the World Cup last-16 clash in Cape Town with Villa having scored three goals from as many matches. Torres, however, has yet to find the net in South Africa having only recovered from a knee injury just before the tournament.
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Villa insists the squad are oblivious to negative reviews of Torres' performances so far.
"First of all I haven't really heard any criticism of Fernando and I certainly don't share a view of his performances being lacklustre," said the Barcelona-bound striker.
"Perhaps he hasn't scored a goal but he's done spectacular work. He really is very happy in the squad, he's made an enormous effort to help this team. Let's remember what state he was in with his knee a month ago.
"He is supporting the team with his play, so I'm very thankful to him and I think his performances have been very good.
"He is doing some excellent work, but forwards are always measured by the goals they score and I'm totally convinced that if he continues working as well as he is, he will score goals."
Villa added: "He had that at the European Championship, he scored goals in the later stages although he hadn't scored many at the beginning.
"He's very happy, he's always with us and he's always going to be contributing very positively to the side."
Coach Del Bosque believes the Liverpool striker's best is yet to come.
"I think he has been very good," said the Spain boss. "He only played 30 minutes or so in the first match and then more in the next two. I think that's been very good because now he has fresh legs and we're hoping he puts on a top show [on Tuesday]."
Del Bosque, who inherited the current generation from Euro 2008-winning boss Luis Aragones, insists his side will not focus too closely on Portugal talisman Cristiano Ronaldo.
"I don't think we should become obsessed with Ronaldo," he said. "We have to centre our attention on Portugal as a team because they have shown defensively and offensively that they are a very competent squad.
"Thanks to the work carried out by their coach, Carlos Queiroz, they have come to this World Cup in top form."
Del Bosque hopes to have Xabi Alonso fit after a niggling injury but will wait to see how the Basque midfielder reacts to Monday's training session overnight.
Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz is relishing a "mouth-watering" exhibition of beautiful football and cultural rivalry.
Spain are revered for their footballing philosophy based on the 'tiki-taka' passing play of Barcelona but Portugal have won plaudits too, not least for a 7-0 thrashing of North Korea in the group stage.
Queiroz has warned his side they must forget such previous performances and move on to a new level.
"This is going to be extremely difficult," he said. "Spain and Portugal play a style of football that, although somewhat similar, there are a number of differences between the two teams.
"I believe it's going to be a great game of football, a game with a lot of creativity, imagination, speed and great moves. At this stage, the round of 16, I expect a great show of football."
Queiroz believes the historic nature of the clash between two sides will only add extra spice.
"It is a regional rivalry between the teams and it is also a social, cultural and historical rivalry between two nations," he said.
"Therefore the game between Portugal and Spain is always a mouth-watering game, I'm sure of that. Just like 'derbies' between, say, England and Germany."
While respectful of Spain's threat, the former Real Madrid coach will ask his side to maintain their attacking ethos.
"We want to win this game from the very first minute," he added. "We don't know whether the duration of the game will be 90 minutes, 120 minutes or a penalty shoot-out. When you play a game of this nature, all that counts is that we move forward and score.
"My philosophy is that in a game of this nature, as a coach you have to take some risks.
"Our passes have to be decisive if we want to defeat Spain. We have to defend well, attack well and a Portuguese team always has to be on the attack."
Danny is unlikely to keep his place in the Portugal side due to an injury suffered in the final group game against Brazil but playmaker Deco should return from a hip problem.