World Cup’10 – Day 14: PREVIEW

PARAGUAY
v
NEW ZEALAND
Group F
Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg
22nd June, 2010, 7:30 PM IST

The fate of the teams in Group F will be decided early Thursday evening as all the four teams stand a chance of making it to the next round.

Paraguay is sitting pretty at the top of the group with four points and need only a draw to progress to the knockout stage. They would be aiming to end the group stages with a win in order to avoid a meeting with what certainly might be the flying Dutch in the pre-quarters. The South American nation is the only team to have tasted victory in the Group F after getting the better of the Slovaks in their second round robin match. La Albirroja who were at the receiving end throughout the match against the Italians, look a different unit altogether with the arrival of Santa Cruz right upfront. The Manchester City striker made a comeback to the starting eleven against the Slovaks and is expected to start against the Kiwis in their final group match as well.

Paraguay should refrain from making the grave mistake of taking the 78th ranked All Whites lightly as they proved against defending champions Italy that they are by no means a pushover team. A defeat to Gerardo Martino’s side could see them board an early flight back home, if either of the teams playing at the Ellis Park stadium ( in the second group F match of the day) ends up outscoring the other. So don’t except an all out defensive game from the South Americans as they would certainly want to a get the cushion of a goal or two.

As far as New Zealand is concerned, to be fair, nobody gave these men from down under any chance of advancing to the round of sixteen prior to the World Cup. Now going into their last round robin match, the Kiwis are just a victory away from doing the unthinkable and silencing their critics. A win against Paraguay would assure them of a place in the next round so expect Ricki Herbert’s men to play the same physical game as they have successfully played so far in Africa this summer. Ryan Nelsen has led them ably on the field by implementing the tactics of their head coach with utmost precision. With a water tight defensive unit and prowling strikers ready to make a team pay for their slip ups, New Zealand might just emerge as a surprise package from this group. The All Whites have always been labeled as the other team from Oceania region with the Australians always outclassing them in the past. This time around they have been presented with a golden opportunity to book a place in the round of 16, if only they could score their first ever victory in the World Cup they would end up creating history.

To Qualify

Paraguay needs a draw to qualify for the next round. This result will see them tied at the top place with the winner of the Italy and Slovakia (if the match between Italy and Slovakia sees a winner), and then the group topper will be decided on goal difference.

A win to Paraguay will see them top the Group F.

A victory to the Kiwis will assure them their first ever knockout round entry. A draw might be good enough for the Kiwis, if the match between Italy and Slovakia also ends in parity. This will leave both Italy and New Zealand tied at 3 points a piece with the goal difference then settling the 2nd place in the group.

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Kiwis: The surprise package from Down Under

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

World Cup Win-Loss Stats:

Paraguay: Played 24, Won 7, Lost 9, Drawn 8

New Zealand: Played 5, Won 0, Lost 3, Drawn 2

Other Key Facts:

(1) Both these teams have met only once before with the South Americans earning a 3-2 win over the Kiwis.

Player to watch out for: Shane Smeltz (New Zealand)

The Kiwi striker was off colour in the opening match against Slovakia but it has his seventh minute goal that gave them a shocking lead against the reigning champions on Sunday. Expect the tall Kiwi striker be at his best when the All Whites take the field for their decisive last group match. His height and finishing will definitely come in handy in the box as New Zealand often plays an aerial game.

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ITALY
v
SLOVAKIA

Group F
Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg
24th June, 2010, 7:30 PM IST

Marcello Lippi was severely criticized for the 23 men squad he took to South Africa, but with the likes of New Zealand and Slovakia in their group it was expected to be a cakewalk for the defending champions at least into the knockout stage. Never even in his wildest dreams would have the Italian manager fathomed that the Azzurri would be in such a precarious position in Round One.

Italy, who are without a win in this calendar year, desperately need three points from their last fixture if they don’t want their African safari cut short. The form of their captain Cannavaro has been a cause of concern for Italy as he was responsible for both the goals that were scored against the reigning champions in the first two matches. Italy has lacked creativity in the midfield due to the absence of their playmaker Andrea Pirlo. He might still not be a hundred percent but his return is most likely on the cards as it is a must win game for the four time World Champions. Pepe and Zambrotta have been the best players for them so far in the World Cup but their brilliant crosses have gone down begging in the box as the form of their front line has been appalling. Antonio Di Natale and Giampaolo Pazzini are most likely to start owing to the poor form of Gilardino and injury to Simon Pepe. They can make it to the next round after a draw aided by help elsewhere, but the Azzurri would like to go for a win which will assure them of a ticket to the next round.

Slovakia will go for broke against the Italians, as only a victory can help them progress further in the tournament. Their coach Vladimir Weiss is most likely to make some alterations in his team due to their poor show against the South Americans which saw them hitting just one shot on target in the entire match. Marek Hamsik, Slovakian skipper will definitely try to use all his experience of playing in Serie A to full effect in their final game as he has played against most of the players in the Italian lineup. On paper Italians are the favourites, but so were they in the previous two encounters. Weiss agrees with that but has said that they will give it their best against the Azzurri. Miroslav Stoch is most likely to be fielded for them if he recovers from his knee injury in time for the match.

June 21, 2010 - Centurion, South Africa - epa02214504 Player Andrea Pirlo (L) is flanked by head coach Marcello Lippi as he arrives at his first training session together with team mates and not persinal alone ahead of a training session of Italian national soccer team on the camp of the Southdowns College in Centurion, South Africa, 21 June 2010. Italy will face Slovakia in the FIFA 2010 World Cup group F soccer match on June 24.Pirlo practicing for the first time on Monday

To Qualify

A win will guarantee the defending champions a birth in the round of 16 irrespective of the result of Paraguay v/s New Zealand match. They can also make it after a draw but for that they will need some favour from the South Americans.

Nothing less than a victory is required for the Slovaks if they want to prolong their maiden stay at the finals. A loss will result them finishing at the last position and a draw can hand them a maximum of a 3rd place finish.

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

World Cup Win-Loss Stats:

Italy: Played 79, Won 44, Lost 14, Drawn 21

Slovakia: Played 2, Won 0, Lost 1, Drawn 1

Other Key Facts:

(1) For the 180 minute splayed so far, Italy has never been in the lead in this World Cup and has come from behind in both their matches to snatch a point.

Player to watch out for: Andrea Pirlo (Italy)

He has been tipped to start the last round robin match of Italy ever since he returned back to practice on Monday. His sublime touch has been the missing piece in the Italian midfield and his return will most definitely help his team to get back the composure and faith which they have so far been lacking. This dead ball expert has sorely been missed by both players and fans in this edition of the world cup and his arrival from injury will surely uplift the spirits of their squad. Expect some sublime crosses and assists when the ball touches his hallowed feet.

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NETHERLANDS
v
CAMEROON

Group E
Green Point Stadium, Cape town
25th June, 2010, 00:00 AM IST

With Netherlands already through to the round of sixteen and the African giants Cameroon already out after back to back defeats this match is basically a dead rubber.

Bert van Marwijk might want to check the depth of his squad and might end up resting some of his key players before the knockout stage begins. Arjen Robben can be given a place in the starting XI to check whether he has recovered from the hamstring injury, but the last decision will be taken by the player himself. The Dutch along with the Uruguayans are the only two teams to have kept a clean sheet in this world cup so far. This might force Van Marwijk to go ahead with a decent strength squad so that the rhythm of his team is not affected. Dutch have not played the attractive style of game which one associates with them in South Africa so far. So with a seat in the last 16 already booked the oranje might come up with an attacking display against Cameroon, which could help them find the flair that has been missing from their campaign so far.

Pride is what Cameroon will be playing for when they take on the flying Dutchmen on late Thursday night. The Indomitable Lions were certainly expected to give the Dutch a run for their money when the draw for the World Cup was announced. But unfortunately Cameroon came up with a disappointing performance in the finals, when one expected some extra zeal from their squad as this is the first ever world cup in the African continent. After defeats in both their matches they were the first ones to be eliminated from the tournament. Their French manager Paul Le Guen is certainly disappointed with his team’s performance, especially their inability to finish a move a bury the ball in the net from the box, but he hopes that his team will be at their attacking best against the Dutch and would try to end their campaign on a winning note.

To Qualify

The fate of both the teams has already been decided. The Dutch are most likely to top the group and face the runner’s up of group F which can be a certain Italy. Only a loss against Cameroon coupled with a 3 goals plus win for either Japan or Denmark will see them slip to second position in the group.

Cameroon is already out of the World Cup.

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

World Cup Win-Loss Stats:

Netherlands: Played 37, Won 17, Lost 10, Drawn 10

Cameroon: Played 18, Won 4, Lost 7, Drawn 7

Other Key Facts:

(1) They have met two times previously and Cameroon has failed to score on both the occasions.

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Player to watch out for: Arjen Robben (Netherlands)

It’s a pity to see this Dutchman who has been in the form of his life to sit out of the initial stage of the World Cup due to injury. He is most likely to feature in the final match of the Dutch in the group stage and is more than capable of bringing back the attractive and attacking form of football that has been missing from the game of his team.

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JAPAN
v
DENMARK

Group E
Rustenberg, Royal Bafokeng Stadium
25th June, 2010, 00:00 AM IST

This is the most straight forward knockout match being played in the World Cup so far. There is no place for the loser. The winner advances to the pre-quarters with the Dutch and the losers will pack their bags.

As both these teams are tied with on 3 points, a draw will work in the favour of the Asians as they have a better goal difference then the Danish but with such high stakes on the line, rest assured it certainly wont end with both teams sharing a point. Takeshi Okada will most likely go with the same 4-1-4-1 formation which has effectively given solidarity at the back to the Japanese. The Blue Samurais can play like the Greeks do with almost six defenders but that policy might backfire against the fast Danish players, who will also have a height advantage over Okada’s men. A lone striker upfront in Honda could really prove costly to the Japanese who have always struggled to score goals.

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Bendtner: Will height be the deciding factor?

The Danes, although trailing the Japanese on goal difference, walk into this match as favourites. The attack line of Japan won’t send shivers down the spine of the Danish but it’s the rock solid backline of the Blue Samurai’s that they must find an answer to.  They need their captain Jon Dahl Tomasson, who missed a couple of sitters against Cameroon the other night, to fire all cylinders. Poulsen in the midfield and Bendtner upfront are likely to cause some concern to the Japanese defensive duo of Nakazawa and Tanaka. Morten Olsen might field the teenager Eriksen from Ajax as Palermo’s Simon Kjaer is suspended. Dennis Rommedhal who scored the decisive goal against Cameroon looks terrific on the flanks and the Japanese might have a tough task up ahead in order to keep him silent.

To Qualify:

Both the teams need a win to go to the next round. A draw will see Japan through as they have goal difference of 0 to Denmark’s goal difference of -1.

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

World Cup Win-Loss Stats:

Japan: Played 12, Won 3, Lost 7, Drawn 2

Denmark: Played 14, Won 8, Lost 4, Drawn 2

Other Key Facts:

(1) This is the second clash between these two nations with the first one going in the favour of the Danes 3-2 almost 39 years ago.

Player to watch out for: Nicklas Bendtner (Denmark)

The Arsenal striker is likely to cause terror among the disciplined Japanese defenders with his headers. After a poor first game, he scored the first goal for the Danes in their match against Cameroon, come Thursday night expect him to take full advantage of his height over the Asians and be on target with his shots.

43 Responses to “World Cup’10 – Day 14: PREVIEW”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. aamir says:

    Hoping for a 1-0 win for Italia

  2. @ italy vs slovakia– rino to start the game and pirlo will be on bench.. the article was writen before that announcement came in

  3. Dinar says:

    I just want Italy to qualify for pre-quarters today :-/
    as for Par-NZ, All Whites have already made their countrymen proud, but will give their all today to last their stay @ WC.

    @Denmark-Japan: if Italy qualifies in 1st, then will support Japan 😛 but as a neutral it would be good if Danes qualify, good for WC overall :-)

  4. aamir says:

    @Ned – Cam
    Any news regarding Hunter , is he in the starting IX ??