Friday, June 4, 2010

World Cup Group F Preview

Group F

Italy – The defending champs got a nice draw. There is no doubt about that. They weren't super impressive in qualification, but that doesn't really matter. No one gave them much props in '06. They are old, though. That may be the thing that hurts them. I think experienced or veteran isn't quite going far enough. They are old. They don't have a superstar striker, but we saw in 06 that Italy are a team. I don't think anyone scored more than 2 goals for them and they won the Cup.

Player to Watch – Alberto Gilardino - A nice Italian name there, Gilardino lacks some of the attention because he does not play for one of the top clubs in Italy, but I think he is the best striker on the team.

Paraguay – Paraguay are a solid World Cup team. They have become a fixture every four years. They have a solid squad, lacking any stars, especially after their best striker was shot in the head. Roque Santa Cruz is the most well known player, but he didn't play much for Man City. Paraguay should have enough World Cup and European Club experience to challenge for the second round.

Player to Watch – Justo Villar – Villar will get the inevitable comparisons to Paraguay great Luis Chilavert. He will need to be strong between the sticks for Paraguay to make it to the next round.

New Zealand – Who is the worst team in the World Cup? New Zealand or North Korea? That is one of the background questions of the Cup. Luckily for New Zealand, they don't have a tough group like North Korea and actually have a chance of getting a few points. New Zealand, though, are happy just to be here and won't challenge for a spot in the next round. Their team comprises of young players in the Australian League and a few role players on European teams. All Whites, how will that nickname fair in South Africa?

Player to Watch – Shane Smeltz – Smeltz was the leading scorer on New Zealand and the leading scorer of the A-League. New Zealand will not play pretty football, but Smeltz is one player that may be able to hold his own.

Slovakia – First world cup for Slovakia. I can't really say I know much about the team. They do have a much more impressive set of club teams than New Zealand, but other than that I really don't know.

Player to watch – Martin Skrtel – I'll be rooting for Slovakia to reach the second round only for the potential clash of Johnny Heitinga and Skrtel. This guys would definitely be starters on the All White (Supremacists).

Prediction: It's clear I won't be missing any work for Group F games. I was wondering what group was the least interesting. For a while it was between this group and group H, but then I remember Spain is miles more entertaining than Italy. New Zealand/Slovakia is leading candidate for worst or least entertaining match of the tournament. Italy should win the group with ease. Slovakia and Paraguay should fight it out for second place. I give the edge to Paraguay due to their experience.

Italy 7

Paraguay 5

Slovakia 2

New Zealand 1

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