There is far more to the beautiful game than facts and figures, yet the statistics are starting to speak for Spain ahead of their FIFA World Cup™ quarter-final against Paraguay.

Even a shock opening loss to Switzerland has not shaken the Spanish out of their stride and their solidity at the back, their mercurial midfield which ensures a lion's share of possession and the form of David Villa in attack are factors which can take them all the way, says coach Vicente Del Bosque.

"We controlled the game well, we kept the ball, we had depth and defensive solidity," said Del Bosque as he looked back at a second-round win over Portugal which saw rival dangerman Cristiano Ronaldo stifled.

With Xabi Alonso and Sergio Busquets shielding the back four and feeding the creative midfield motors of Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta, and with Villa on top of his game - even if strike partner Ferhnando Torres is not as yet firing on all cyclinders - it is difficult to get the ball off the Spanish. Against the Portuguese they had 61 per cent of possession and over their four games to date their ball-retaining skills have meant that their overall possession extended to 139 minutes - compared with 121 for Brazil and 118 for Argentina.

"We have to recognise that Spain moved the ball around well and kept possession better and a team which does that controls the match," Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz acknowledged.

Successful completion of passes also speaks for Spain at 81 percent - though they will still note that no European side has won the trophy outside of Europe to date and the South American contingent this year looks more daunting than ever.

We have to recognise that Spain moved the ball around well and kept possession better and a team which does that controls the match.

Carlos Queiroz, Portugal coach

Although critics will point to 19 chances only yielding Villa's solitary strike, the sheer volume of ammunition is almost guaranteed given further statistics such as Xavi's 296 passes in four games. In terms of shots on goal, the Spanish are also right up there - compared with a more cautious Paraguay - with their 74 efforts only one less than attack kings Argentina and the same as Brazil.

Even so, critics would point to only five goals scored to date - Villa's four and one for Iniesta. Del Bosque professes himself unworried by that. "We all know that the hardest thing in football is that last control, the final as you go for goal," says the former Real Madrid coach.

Bilbao striker Fernando Llorente insists he is confident in Spanish progress amid worries that Paraguay will be difficult to break down as they are not likely to come out of their defensive shell in his view. "I am sure we will go up against a Paraguay side who will look to keep things under lock and key at the back - as have other teams we have met - but we are used to it and we are confident in how we do things," Llorente told reporters in Potchefstroom.

Squadmate Pedro Rodriquez concurs. "It will be a tough game - they work things very well defensively, they stay close and it will be very difficult to find space."

Llorente warns additionally that the Paraguayans kept up with Brazil throughout a long and arduous qualifying programme, even leading the group for several rounds of matches. "They have got here on merit - they played very well in the South American qualifiers and finished ahead of Argentina and Uruguay, so they are a fine team."

If Spain do come through, it will mark the only time they have ever been beyond the quarters aside from 1950, when they finished fourth.