World Cup‘10 – Day 10: PREVIEW




Group F

Mangaung, Bloemfontein
20 June, 5:00 PM IST


Sunday will see Paraguay kick off against Slovakia in the first match of the day. The lads from eastern Europe who will still be feeling gutted after conceding an equalizer to the Kiwis in the injury time, will have to play out of their skins in the remaining group matches if they want to progress to the knockout round. That and the fact that they have the defending champions waiting for them in their last group encounter, would mean the Slovaks, who have always lived in the shadow of their illustrious neighbours – the Czechs, would love to make their maiden trip to the finals a memorable one by picking up their first victory against their South American opponents.

Expect Vladimir Wiess to make small adjustments upfront as his strikers failed to live up to their reputation against a week New Zealand team and scored what most would call a controversial goal in their opening game. The Repre’s coach would be satisfied with his captain Marek Hamsik’s performance. The Napoli midfielder, along with the twenty year old Vladimir Weiss Jr. ran riot in the heart of the Kiwis defense to boost the forward line and instill a fearless attacking mindset.

After holding the mighty Italians to a one all draw, Paraguay will go into this game a confident unit. A win by no means assures them of a place in the last sixteen but it will surely make them sit on top of a tight group F where all four teams are tied with a point in their kitty. The South Americans despite playing a conservative game against the defending champions, made made sure they at least walked out with a point from their opening fixture thanks to Antolin Alcaraz. Gerardo Martino’s only concern would be the amount of possession the Italians enjoyed over them. But news of the return of a fit Santa Cruz to the starting eleven comes as a big relief for the La Albirroja’s head coach. With a gritty defensive unit and two comparatively weak opponents lined up for them, Paraguay seems all set to take their first step towards the knockout phase of the world cup.

Paraguay's Roque Santa Cruz (R) replaces Nelson Haedo Valdez (18) as Cristian Riveros speaks to coach Gerardo Martino during their 2010 World Cup Group F soccer match at Green Point stadium in Cape Town June 14, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP)

Santa Cruz: No longer on the bench


World Cup Head-to-Head Record: This is their first ever meeting in a World Cup.

World Cup Win-Loss Stats:
Slovakia: Played 1, Won 0, Lost 0, Drawn 1
Paraguay: Played 23, Won 6, Lost 9, Drawn 8

Other Key Facts:
(1) Vladimir Weiss and Vladimir Weiss Jnr. are the fifth father and son duo to represent a nation as manager and player respectively in a world cup.

(2) Paraguay has never gone past the Round of 16 in the world cup.

Player to watch out for: Roque Santa Cruz (Paraguay)

The Manchester City striker is the most lethal weapon in the arsenal of South Americans and came on only as a substitute in their opening match due to a muscle injury. He is considered among the most feared strikers in the EPL with his precise finishes. He is tipped to be 100% fit for their upcoming match against the Slovaks. The 28 year old has what it takes to single handedly smother the dreams of the Eastern Europeans and would be a welcome inclusion in their starting lineup.




New Zealand

Group F


20 June, 7:30 PM IST

After scoring their first goal and picking their first ever points in a world cup the Kiwis run into eternal favourites the defending champions Italy. The last minute Winston Reid equalizer raised the spirits of the All Whites, something they desperately needed before facing the four time world champions. Ryan Nelson marshaled his troops quite well and led from the front while valiantly defending against the Slovaks. But Ricki Herbert knows that his team will have to play an exceptional game of football when they step on the field with the Azzurri, even if they want to salvage some pride. The Kiwi coach will have to rethink his three striker strategy which he used in the first match as it might prove to be fatal against the Italians. Chris Killen only looked threatening during their attacks while Fallon and Smeltz were easily marked out. The inexperience of their full backs Winston Reid and Tommy Smith is a worrying factor for Herbert, meanwhile the return of Tim Brown from shoulder injury will strengthen their midfield.

Complacency is something the Italians cannot afford when they take on the 78th ranked All Whites in their second match of round one. Having played a draw against Paraguay in the opening match the defending champions will be desperately looking for a win. Lippi’s men who surprisingly came out Cape Town with just one point in spite of dominating the match would be hoping for their forwards to provide better finishing then what they did at the Green Point stadium. Rumor has it that Antonio Di Natale and Camoranesi will be included in the starting eleven after Marchisio and Iaquinta failed to impress the coach with their first game performance. But the biggest blow to the Azzurri has come courtesy the injury to Buffon which has ruled the Juventus goalkeeper out for at least ten days. Marchetti will get to step in his shoes at least till the group stage is being played. With major changes on the cards for the Italians, the Kiwis might sense there is a chance for them to pull the rabbit out of the hat and surprise the mighty European giants. On paper Italy are expected to steam roll the Kiwis, but matches are not won on paper; they are won out on the green pitch where rankings don’t really matter and if their last and only meeting in the Confederation cup in June last year is anything to go by, then prepare for ninety minutes of fantastic football.

June 14, 2010 - United Kingdom - Football - Italy v Paraguay FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010 - Group F - Green Point Stadium, Cape Town, South Africa - 14/6/10..Italy's Simone Pepe (R) in action with Paraguay's Victor Caceres.  

Pepe is the man for Italia


World Cup Head-to-Head Record: This is their first ever meeting in a World Cup.

World Cup Win-Loss Stats:

Italy: Played 78, Won 44, Lost 14, Drawn 20

New Zealand: Played 4, Won 0, Lost 3, Drawn 1

Other Key Facts: (1) The defending champions are the only team in the tournament who have failed to win even a single match this year, with their last victory coming against Sweden in November’09

(2) Italy- (set pieces experts)-Eight out of Italy’s last thirteen goals in the finals have come through set pieces.

Player to watch out for: Simone Pepe (Italy)

Pepe had a fantastic first game and was an architect of a number of chances that went down begging because of poor finishing of the Italian forwards.  He was superb from the set pieces as well and it was his corner that forced an error from the Paraguay’s goalkeeper which helped the Italians to get the equalizer.  Along with Zambrotta he delivered superb balls in the box and his runs on the flanks were inspiring.  A similar show against the Kiwis will surely seal the deal for the Azzurris.




Cote d’Ivoire

Group G

Soccer City Stadium, Johannesburg,

21 June, 00:00 AM IST

Brazil has always been among one of the favourites when it comes to the football World Cup and it was a similar story this time around before the tournament kicked off. But it took them just one match against the minnows North Korea to break this blind faith of people in them. North Korea played the match of their lives against the Samba boys and kept them at bay till 53 minutes. It took a moment of magic from Inter Milan’s Maicon to break the deadlock and finally give Brazil a one goal advantage. Elano increased the lead in the 73rd minute by netting in their second goal but North Korea punctured the ego of the South Americans but reducing the deficit in the 89th minute.

Dunga has already been severely criticized for not taking along players like Ronaldinho, Alex and Pato to Africa, if his men come up with a similar performance against Ivory Coast then in no time these people would be asking for his head. The complacency shown by the Brazilians against their Asian opponents in the first game cannot be repeated in the match against Les Éléphants. Brazilians dominated the possession but were doing nothing with it – something Dunga will have to look into seriously. They have to pick the final pass more consistently, which they consistently failed to find in their opening encounter. The form of Kaka is also a worry for them as he lacked both in pace and creativity. Robinho’s performance was the only saving grace for the Verde-Amarela . They drastically need to improve in all quarters, and improve quickly, if they want to emerge a record six times champions on the 11th of July.

Brazil Team Group World Cup 2010 (Back Row Left to Right) Lucio / Julio Cesar / Juan / Maicon / Gilberto Silva / Felipe Melo (Front Row Left to Right) Michel Bastos / Robinho / Elano / Kaka / Luis Fabiano Brazil V Korea DPR (2-1) 15/06/10 Group G at the Ellis Park Stadium FIFA World Cup 2010 Photo Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

Brasil :The current squad only looks a shadow of their past greats


Ivory Coast proved in their first match why exactly Group G was called the Group of Death. In only their second world cup the way they played against the Portuguese speaks volumes about the talent that this African nation possesses. They managed to keep a check on Ronaldo and at times some wood work came to their rescue and they managed to walk away with a single point from the match. The fact that Drogba was brought into the match, just ten days after breaking his arm, tells us Les Éléphants won’t give up without a fight – a hallmark of their captain.

After a disappointing first match, Brazil will come hard at the African nation and it is up to their Swedish coach to make sure that his team comes to grip with the ball. The Ivorian players gave away the balls quite often by over hitting their passes. They somehow survived against the Portugal, but Dunga’s men will deman a lot more respect. Didier Drogba is most likely to start on the bench and Gervinho will be leading the line in Drogba’s absence, once again.

World Cup Head-to-Head Record: This is their first ever meeting in a World Cup.

World Cup Win-Loss Stats:
Brazil: Played 93, Won 65, Lost 14, Drawn 14
Cote d’Ivoire: Played 4, Won 1, Lost 2, Drawn 1

Other Key Facts:

(1) Brazil have won all of their five World Cup matches against African teams, keeping a clean sheet in all those matches.

(2) Ivory Coast averaged 3.2 goals per game during qualifying with Drogba, a and 1.9 when he is not playing.

Player to watch out for:  Kaka (Brazil)


Kaka arrived injured in the World Cup after a poor maiden season in Real Madrid. He was completely off color in Brazil’s first encounter but nobody has lost their faith in this brilliant playmaker. The former Fifa World Player of the Year, might not be at his best but there is still time left in the tournament for him to rediscover his touch.

55 Responses to “World Cup‘10 – Day 10: PREVIEW”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. Dinar says:

    according to latest reports Lippi will opt for 4-4-2 this time around, like they did in 2nd half against Paraguay. Expect again a gritty performance from All whites. As Azzurri fan, I dont want anything but an Azzurri win :-) & a Domino Effect in Paraguay-Slovakia match 😛

  2. redNblack_blood says:

    Kiwi’s play a physical game and can really trouble the Italians with aerial balls. Plus teh absence of Pirlo who ripped apart the New Zealand team in the Confed cup 12 months back will come as a major blow to the Azzurri.

  3. Vishnu says:

    Azzuri will win. hope so.

  4. redNblack_blood says:

    this is the world cup for the underdogs…………….