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Teams prepare as WCup pauses for rest day

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The World Cup finally paused for breath with its first rest day, giving the eight remaining teams two days to focus on quarterfinal preparations.

European champion Spain is hitting form in time for Saturday's match against Paraguay, with David Villa tied for the tournament scoring lead. Germany midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger warned his teammates not to be provoked by Argentina when the teams meet on the weekend.

But Brazil's focus for the Netherlands may have been damaged by news that midfielder Elano's right ankle injury could keep him out of the rest of the World Cup, even if Brazil makes it all the way to the July 11 final.

Elano scored a goal in each of Brazil's first two matches, but was hurt in a tough tackle against Ivory Coast. He said he wants referees to do more to protect players from violent play, raising the subject of video technology a day after FIFA president Sepp Blatter said the ruling body would examine its possible use in helping referees.

"I don't like to complain, but this type of violence needs to be analyzed," said Elano, who has a bruised bone. "People talk about the ball, about using video to see if it was a goal or not, but I wanted to go to the referee and say, 'You didn't even call a foul?'"

Otherwise, things are going well for Brazil.

The team finally showed more than a couple of glimpses of its flowing soccer in its 3-0 second-round win over Chile, with Kaka and Luis Fabiano continuing to team up perfectly in attack — just as they did when they played for Brazilian club Sao Paulo before becoming stars in Europe.

Fabiano has scored three goals in four matches in South Africa, two after passes from Kaka.

"We have a perfect connection," Fabiano said. "We understand each other. I just have to get in position and I know he will get the ball to me."

That's the sort of confidence also coursing through the Spaniards after a 1-0 win over the Portuguese. With 1-0 opening loss to Switzerland forgotten, Spain looks as though it has figured out how to unlock even the most defensive teams.

"You have to have patience and adapt your style," Villa said. "But there was never any fear — 99 percent of the time our style of play means victory."

Actually, it's 94 percent: the team has won 30 of 32 matches under coach Vicente del Bosque.

Germany coach Joachim Loew called Argentina a favorite to win the World Cup after the South Americans' strong showing so far, with that status possibly boosted by news that Germany forward Cacau is unlikely to recover from a thigh injury in time to play on Saturday.

But Schweinsteiger is thinking as much about his team's mental preparations as the physical ones.

Schweinsteiger accused the Argentines of showing no respect for opponents or referees, and urged his teammates not to be provoked.

Germany eliminated Argentina on penalty kicks four years ago at the same stage and there were chaotic scenes after the shootout, with both sides exchanging punches and kicks in a fracas that included team officials from both benches.

"The shootout is still in our memory, but what really weighs heavily on our minds is what happened after that match," Schweinsteiger said. "We have to remain calm and not get provoked, and I hope the referee will be very alert.

"You could see their behavior at halftime of the game against Mexico. When you look at their body language and gesticulations, the way they try to influence the referees, they have no respect. It's their mentality and character and we'll have to adjust."

Mexico and Argentina players had to be separated as they headed for the tunnel at halftime of the teams' second-round game, with the Mexicans furious over Argentina's first goal that came from Carlos Tevez being offside. Argentina won 3-1.

Governments in France and Nigeria risked FIFA's wrath with interventions following the countries' first-round exits.

French lawmakers involved in a parliamentary hearing into the country's humiliating first-round exit criticized Raymond Domenech. The coach refused to take any responsibility for the team's misbehavior.

The hearing went ahead despite a warning from FIFA about French government meddling in soccer affairs. Blatter said the national team risks suspension from international soccer if political leaders interfere in the running of the federation.

"It isn't FIFA's role to threaten French lawmakers; we're in a democracy and parliamentarians have the right to hear anyone they want," lawmaker Eric Ciotti said.

Lawmakers said Domenech, who has stepped down, tried to pin blame on the media.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan's suspended his country's team from international competition for two years after the team failed to win a game at the tournament and allegations of corruption followed the squad.