Day's grace incentive for buoyant Spanish

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The Independent Online

Spain are hoping to earn an extra day of preparation for the second round of the World Cup by continuing their solid start against South Africa today.

Spain are hoping to earn an extra day of preparation for the second round of the World Cup by continuing their solid start against South Africa today.

Two victories out of two in Group B mean Spain are already certain of improving on their campaign in France four years ago and reaching the second phase. A point against South Africa would take them through as group winners to face Group E runners-up Ireland on Sunday. Second place would mean a match against Group E winners Germany a day earlier.

"This third game is very important," said striker Raul, who bagged Spain's first goal of the competition in their 3-1 win over Slovenia. "We have to maintain our form from the wins over Slovenia and Paraguay and make certain we finish first. That will then give us the advantage of playing our next match a day later."

The Spain coach Jose Antonio Camacho is planning major changes, with up to five new faces. Xavi is likely to get the playmaker's role after performing well in training.

Camacho also plans to bring on new full-backs Curro Torres and Romero to join Ivan Helguera and Miguel Angel Nadal, while the team captain Fernando Hierro is expected to be rested.

South Africa reported no injury problems as they attempt to reach the second round for the first time in their history.

Paraguay will stick to a tried and tested formula as they seek to score a hatful of goals against Slovenia to have a chance of qualifying for the next phase. Their coach Cesare Maldini says he will not adopt an all-out attacking approach, instructing his side to press forward without leaving themselves exposed at the back.

"I will not change the way we have been playing," said Maldini. "We need to score goals but our approach will remain the same."

The South Americans must win, and also overturn second-placed South Africa's superior goal difference of three. But even that will not be enough if the South Africans get a point against Spain.

Paraguay wll give a late fitness test to the defender Denis Cañiza, who is troubled by an injury to his right knee.

Juan Carlos Franco will take his place if he fails to recover in time.

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