Monday, June 14, 2010

South Africa 2010 – Group F:

The main fact:
A group was labeled the easiest of all 8?

Coach : Marcello Lippi
Appearances : 16
Best Result : Champions 1934, 1938, 1982, 2006
FIFA Rank : 5th
Key : Buffon, Pirlo, Daniele DeRossi.

Here is a great team, 4 times winner and secondly to Brazil in total World Cup's won. The Azzurri deserves truly respect as a defending 2006 champions, 1974 was the last time they failed to make progress from their World Cup's Group. Since then they have advanced 8 times in a row, I believe Italy has never had a Group with such weak opposition on paper. Now the Italians are relying on mostly the same squad that took the championship in 2006, with all experience and unity but also 4 years older especially on defense. As they did in both 1982 & 2006, their squad of heroes passed and went into the tournament with questions, but ended up winning it all. Italy qualified top of the group without losing with more 10 goals differential, thanks to the traditional efficiency and pragmatism. Not to mention coach Lippi as one of football's finest with 31 consecutive international matches without any single defeat, Italy will sail through to 16 round. It will change everyone's opinion on aging football stars, but how far they would go this time? Looks so frail to popes, in this case, "experienced" might be an euphemism.

Coach : Rikki Herbert
Appearances : 1
Best Result : First Round 1982
FIFA Rank : 78th
Key : Chris Killen, Shane Smeltz, Ryan Nelsen.
This is the second World Cup appearance for the Kiwis, a physical team with a stingy defense. But they failed to score a goal in the Confederations Cup, and likely it will repeat here. The Oceania qualifier is obviously one of the weaker and New Zealand will face the teams with more intimidate classed players. It will be a massive job for Blackburn's Ryan Nelsen as the Kiwis captain, who needs more offensive strength to help his side avoid being spanked. They did very well to edge past Bahrain in the play off, but the three sides they face in this group will proof far too strong. All they have to do is face the World Champions, to give them hope that there might be something to build on in the future.

Coach : Gerardo Martino
Appearances : 7
Best Result : Second Round 1986, 1998, 2002
FIFA Rank : 31th
Key : Justo Villar, Salvador Cabanas, Santa Cruz.
La Albirroja are making their eighth World Cup finals appearance and fourth in a row after brilliant qualifying campaign by winning 10 matches. They became the second CONMEBOL team to make the tournament by defeated Brazil in the process, and ahead of Argentina in South American Group. Paraguay would like to establish their position since opening match against Italy, then will be another favorite to make it out of the group stage. Led by Nelson Valdez and leading scorer as a duo Cabanas and Santa Cruz, it will expect them to play lots of pressure and trying to build up possession to produce entertaining games. More steel may see them through this time, before to face reality to meet "Men in Orange" then.

Coach : Vladimir Weiss
Appearances : none
Best Result : none
FIFA Rank : 34th
Key : Martin Skrtel, Marek Hamsik, Stanislav Sestak.
As the former Czechoslovakia, a nation who participated in 8 finals overall, and now look to climb to the top of World Stage once again as Slovakia for their first time ever. They have a similarity, based on youngster with discipline that doesn't rely on star players. Yes, they have Liverpool's Skrtel and Napoli's Marek Hamsik, but who cares Stanislav Sestak as their leading scorer in qualification? With positive attitude, they surprise to over the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovenia. The Neopolitans must recognize that a strong performance at the World Cup could see him snaffled by one of Europe's big guns, then should push Paraguay all the way and may sneak a surprise. It's time to sleepers to shock some people.

This may be was labeled the easiest of all groups, looks easy it may prove to be for Italy, but it is still quite tricky to predict. Even with the problems Italy currently squad, no way they fail to do so. Forget all the myths about slow starters, possibly jinx to the Azzurri with the winning teams but 4 years older. So the only mystery in this group is who will claim the second spot, Paraguay may advance if they get a good result against Italy. Otherwise, if Slovakia may do so, then match between those two will be the most important on the group. 
Paraguay looks to be stronger team but stack up front with Cabanas and Santa Cruz. And the more to learn about Slovakia as a solid team, then more we'll like them. In Vladimir Weiss, Miroslav Stoch also Hamsik, they have a very dribble midfielder as a trio set the tournament alight in this group. The interesting is, when Paraguay and Slovakia will all be fighting for a place to next round with the same point, suddenly Italy should be on 3, so any team could move forward. It could be just happened this way, and .. hey, where's the Kiwis? Flying somewhere?

Italy (7), Slovakia (6),
Paraguay (4), New Zealand (0).


dragon said...

There is no fresh into Italians, this team has just growing older, not better. And yes, soccer is not their strong spot for Kiwis, but they deserve to get respect anyhow.

Anonymous said...

yep, Italy 1 - Paraguay 1.
My boss said that Paraguay is better than Slovakia. so I'd go with :

Paraguay - 7
Italy - 5
Slovakia - 4
New Zealand - 0

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