ROUND OF 16: PARAGUAY VS. JAPAN
Where: Pretoria. Time: 7 a.m. PDT.
TV: ESPN, ESPN Deportes, Univision. Radio: Sirius/XM, KLYY-FM 97.5, KDLD-FM/KDLE-FM 103.1.
The buzz: Neither team has ever reached the quarterfinals, so one team will make history. Paraguay allowed just one goal in cruising through group play, helping eliminate defending champion Italy in the process. But unlike years past, Paraguay is no longer just a defensive team despite having lost Salvador Cabanas, their leading scorer in qualifying, to a near-fatal shooting in a Mexican bar in January. Experienced striker Roque Santa Cruz now leads the attack, one that features Borussia Dortmund teammates Lucas Barrios and Nelson Valdez. The Samurai Blue offense, meanwhile, pretty much starts and stops with Keisuke Honda. And while other teams have spent much of the World Cup complaining about the unpredictable Jabulani match ball, the Japanese have mastered it, scoring twice on free kicks in their final group-play win over Denmark. The Japanese also push the pace, which gives them an edge in fitness over most rivals. "With their pace and agility, Japan is a team hard to play against," Santa Cruz said. "So we have to come out very focused and keep running throughout the game."