World Cup’10 – Day 4: PREVIEW

Group E
Soccer City Stadium, Johannesburg
14th June, 17.00 IST
Referee: Stephane Lannoy(France)

The Danes will have the onerous task of handling the high flying Oranje, and a draw for them will be a major fillip for Morten Olssen’s side before they take on Cameroon in the next match. The Dutch, on the other hand, will be looking to carry on their momentum from the extremely successful qualification and warm-up stints, and book a berth in the round of 16 at the earliest.

Arjen Robben suffered a slight hamstring tear in the team’s pre-world cup match against Hungary, and will not feature in this match, as confirmed by Bert Van Marwijk. However, the coach has utmost confidence that his side will do well without the influential winger, and it is hard to argue with him. With Van Persie, Huntelaar, Van Der Vaart, Kuyt and Sneijder comprising the attacking force, the Oranje have the necessary ammunition to wear down the Danish defense.

Netherlands’ performance in the warm-up games leading to the tournament provided ominous signs of their form. After a hard fought 2-1 win over Mexico, they steamrolled Ghana and Hungary, with score lines of 4-1 and 6-1 respectively. However, they could find the going tough against the more tactical and disciplined teams like Italy and Brazil, so it remains to see how they fare against quality opposition.

Denmark, on the other hand, have contrasting results in their warm-up games. A 2-0 victory over Senegal was followed by narrow losses to Australia and South Africa, which hinted at the lack of attacking potency in the Scandinavian side. However, they have no injury concerns at the moment, and Olssen has a fully fit squad at his disposal.

In the absence of impact players in the team, the Danes will look to give a collective and organized performance against Netherlands. Christian Poulsen will be relied upon to shut shop against the creative Sneijder and the foxy Van Der Vaart, while the central defensive duo of Daniel Agger and Simon Kjaer will have to be on their toes to counter the threats of Van Persie and Klaas Jan Huntelaar. One can expect Thomas Sorensen to be very busy between the goal posts on this occasion.

Nicklas Bendtner has recovered from a groin injury, and along with the in-form Soren Larsen will have to deliver the goods against a rather suspect Dutch defense, at least from set pieces. If the Danes can convert the possibly limited chances that come their way, they could be in an unexpected position to pull off an upset win over their superior opponents, repeating the famous victory over Netherlands in Euro’92.

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

World Cup Win-Loss Stats:
Netherlands: Played 36, 16 wins, 10 defeats.
Denmark: Played 13, 7 wins, 4 defeats.

Other Key Facts:
(1) Netherlands are currently on an unbeaten run of 16 games.
(2) Netherlands have suffered only one loss in their last 12 group stage matches in the World Cup.
(3) Denmark have scored in their last three opening games in World Cup.

Jun 05, 2010 - Amsterdam, Netherlands - WESLEY SNEIJDER injured during the friendly match between Netherlands and Hungary.
Sneijder: Netherlands’ trump card

Player To Watch Out For: Wesley Sneijder (Netherlands)
He was the architect of Inter Milan’s treble this year, and the national side will be relying on him to deliver the same kind of performance for them. His impeccable passes and unparalleled creativity could make life miserable for Poulsen and co.



Group E
Free State Stadium, Mangaung/Bloemfontein
14th June, 19.30  IST
Referee: Olegario Benquerenca(Portugal)

The Indomitable Lions will be looking to cash on a possible loss for Denmark to cement their second position behind the Netherlands in the Group table. However, they will have to contend with a Japanese side which is known for its quick passing and attacking style of football. But the defensive strategy deployed by their coach Takeshi Okada seems to have raised some questions about the expected tactics in the group stage matches.

Unlike the 2002 World Cup, where Japan made it to the round of sixteen, this tournament will be a far sterner test for the Samurai Blue. Takeshi Okada will be hoping for his charges to put up a spirited display against the Africans and bring more competitiveness to Group E.

Japan have endured a barren run of form, suffering four defeats and mustering a draw in their last five warm-up games. Okada has been tinkering with the team, in an attempt to find the right combination for the upcoming matches; his tactics have not impressed the Japanese fans, and his proclamations that Japan would advance to the semifinals has done no good to his image as well.

Midfielder Makoto Hasebe gave Japan an injury scare, when he suffered a back problem in their warm-up game against Cote d’Ivoire, but he declared himself fit to participate in the Cameroon encounter. The experienced Shunsuke Nakamura is the fulcrum of the midfield, and will be assisted by the able Yasuhito Endo and the energetic CSKA Moscow midfielder Keisuke Honda in Japan’s quest for a victory in this game.

Cameroon’s coach Paul Le Guen has ostensibly thought of a way to counter Japan’s fast paced attacks, hinting that Arsenal midfielder Alex Song and first choice goalkeeper Carlos Kameni would be dropped to the bench , with the older Hamidou Souleymanou slotted into the position between the goal posts.

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Paul Le Guen: Solving the Japanese riddle?

Cameroon’s performances in the warm up games were forgettable, in contrast to their qualification matches. After drawing with Slovakia, they were dumped by Portugal with a scoreline of 1-3, and Serbia edged them out 3-2 to end their pre-world cup stint on a stuttering note. However, Le Guen has dismissed his side’s poor run in the recent matches and insists that his team will shrug it off and put their best performance in the Group stages.

Cameroon have a wealth of experience in Rigobert Song, Geremi and Jean Makoun; with the talismanic striker Samuel Eto’o and the young Pierre Webo forming the striking front, the Africans can fancy their chances of grabbing some crucial points in this encounter. However, there is a possibility of the Asian side nicking a goal in the later stages of the match, as the old legs could become weary by then, providing Okada the opportunity of deploying fresh pacy players towards the last part of the game.

All in all, the fight between a fleet footed Asian powerhouse and a rugged and solid African side will provide a mouth-watering football feast for fans the world over, with both sides looking to gain points from this fixture.

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

World Cup Win-Loss Stats:
Japan: Played 10, 2 wins, 6 defeats.
Cameroon: Played 17, 4 wins, 6 defeats.

Other Key Facts:
(1) Cameroon have won only one of their last 9 group stage matches in the World Cup.
(2) Cameroon have played the most number of games in world cup finals for an African country – 17
(3) Cameroon are yet to score against Japan.
(4) Cameroon, like South Africa, have not lost their opening game in a World Cup so far.
(5) This is Japan’s fourth successive World Cup finals appearance.

Player To Watch Out For: Jean Makoun(Cameroon)
The Lyon tackler will be crucial to breaking up Japan’s fast paced attacks in the middle of the pitch. He will work in tandem with the experienced Geremi to stifle the opposition midfield and play a part in the build up to Cameroon’s offensive tactics.



Group F
Green Point Stadium, Cape Town
15th June, 00.00 IST
Referee: Benito Archundia(Mexico)

The defending champions begin their World Cup campaign against a tough Paraguayan outfit which has seemingly found their feet under the coaching tutelage of Argentinean Gerardo Martino. Marcello Lippi’s side has a few players who participated in the previous edition, which ensures that the Azurri have a plethora of experience and winning know-how; however, some of the players have become a shadow of themselves, while the Italian youngsters will experience international exposure for the first time. This means that even though they are the favorites to top the group, which also involves minnows New Zealand and Slovakia, it would be risky to underestimate their South American and Slovakian counterparts.

Italy’s defense is in safe hands, with the highly rated custodian Gianluigi Buffon and the central defensive pair of Girogio Chiellini and Fabio Cannavaro providing a water tight backline. With the omission of Francesco Totti from the national squad and the retirement of Alessandro Del Piero, the attacking options are shouldered by Alberto Gilardino, Giampaolo Pazzini, Antonio Di Natale and Vincenzo Iaquinta. The last two strikers have impressed the Italian media in their World Cup qualifier outings, and Lippi could choose either of these two promising stars to link up with Gilardino upfront.

It’s the midfield which is an area of concern for the Azzuri. Andrea Pirlo suffered a calf strain and is expected to sit out in the first two group stages, while defensive midfielder Daniele De Rossi didn’t participate in the warm up game against Gauteng All Stars as a precautionary measure over a slight calf complaint. Fiorentina’s Riccardo Montolivo and Juventus’ Claudio Marchisio could fill in for these two veterans should the need arise, but they may not be able to deliver the same quality as them. With Gennaro Gattuso announcing his imminent retirement from international football after the World Cup, the ‘Rino’ will be yearning to give his all in his last tournament in a blue shirt.

Following a successful yet far from convincing string of results in the qualifying matches, which saw them top their respective group table, the Azzuri were unable to deliver much in the subsequent warm up matches, They could only muster draws against Cameroon and Switzerland, and tasted defeat at the hands of Mexico, raising questions about Lippi’s team selection tactics and the fitness of the older players in the squad. The going could be tough for the old legs, but the zeal and passion which they wear on their sleeves could possibly inspire the youngsters to deliver the goods.

Jun. 05, 2010 - Genf Geneve Geneva, SWITZERLAND SCHWEIZ SUISSE - epa02188903 Players of Italy celebrate their first goal to the score of 1-1, during an international friendly test game between the national soccer teams of Switzerland and Italy at the Stade de Geneve in Geneva, Switzerland, 05 June 2010, ahead of the FIFA World Cup 2010 in South Africa. Switzerland will play in group H and Italy in group F.
The Azzuri: Hoping for a 2006 repeat

In stark contrast, Paraguay are enjoying a renaissance under Gerardo Martino, who guided the South American side to their fourth successive World Cup finals. They ended up third in the qualifying group, having managed to clinch important victories against powerhouses Brazil and Argentina in their progress towards a finals berth. They have fared better in their warm-up games, drawing with Cote d’Ivoire and beating Greece two-nil.

The current squad appears to be stronger than the previous squads, and Martino asserts his confidence in the team’s strike force. Manchester City’s Roque Santa Cruz is a known name in the Premier League, while Brussia Dortmund’s Nelson Váldez and Lucas “The Panther” Barrios and the Portuguese League leading scorer Oscar Cardozo will give him company upfront. Barrios has been a revelation in the German League, putting his club in contention for the UCL spot, and the Paraguayan faithful hope to see the same kind of performance from the young star.

Justo Villar will be featuring between the goal posts for his third successful finals appearance, and the Real Valladolid custodian was one of the key reasons for Paraguay coming out unscathed in a grueling qualifying phase; it remains to be seen if he can match up to the charismatic Jose Luis Chilavert, who was Paraguay’s main star in the 1998 edition. However, the defense has shipped 16 goals in the qualifying campaign and is rather suspect to crosses and set pieces, which puts the onus on their attack force to score as much as possible. As Italy are notoriously slow starters, the La Albirroja can take a shot at their European opponents and set up an exciting encounter from the outset.

The match will be a visual treat to football fans the world over, as a new look and scintillating Paraguayan attack will square up against an experienced Italian side which will be keen to continue from where they left in 2006. The time has come for Marcello Lippi to make the nay-sayers acknowledge his faith in the old warhorses, and for the likes of Barrios to announce their arrival on the grandest stage of football in style.

World Cup Head-to-Head Record: One match, which Italy won 2-0

World Cup Win-Loss Stats:
Italy: Played 77, 44 wins, 14 defeats.
Paraguay: Played 22, 6 wins, 9 defeats.

Other Key Facts:
(1) Italy haven’t lost a match to South American sides in their last nine World Cup meetings.
(2) Italy have lost only one opening World Cup game since 1962
(3) Paraguay have won only one out of eleven games against European sides.

Player To Watch Out For: Giorgio Chiellini(Italy)
The Juventus defender will have his task cut out against the strong Paraguayan attack, but has proven his capabilities and worth time and again. His acute positional sense and no-nonsense tackling could put Italy in a good position to negate the threats of Martino’s charges.


52 Responses to “World Cup’10 – Day 4: PREVIEW”

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  1. Pankaj says:

    Expecting an upset in the Italy-Paraguay match. Cameroon is expected to get the better of Japan. Netherlands to run havoc at the Danish defense.

  2. Shabin says:

    A report in Guardian suggest(with proof) that all is not well in dutch squad between Snejider and Van Persie.

  3. Pankaj says:

    There are similar news of a rift in Brazilian camp between Baptista and Alves!!!

  4. Nikhil Taneja says:

    @pankaj.. What A/c to you will be an upset??.. Going by current form Paraguay are the favorites to hold Italy!!

  5. Pankaj says:

    Whatever the current scenario may be, you have to give the reigning world champions top billing. 😉

  6. citizen says:

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