Current World Cup holders Italy kick-off their South Africa 2010 campaign against outsiders Paraguay. 8, Italy qualified unbeaten from Group 8 in the European section of the World Cup qualifiers and will come into the tournament with extreme confidence. Paraguay came through South American group qualification comfortably also, beating Brazil along the way to securing their place at the World Cup with a superb 1-0 victory of Diego Maradona’s Argentina, ensuring that nobody will be taking this Paraguayan team lightly in South Africa.
Italy vs Paraguay Odds for World Cup Match June 14th:
Over 2 (+105)
Under 2 (-120)
The Italian team, coached by legend Marcello Lippi, are one of the strongest of the pack in this years’ competition. With talented players in every position on the field, the key for the Italians will be in avoiding the complacency which saw them lose to Spain in a penalty shoot-out in Euro 2008. Italy’s squad for South Africa 2010 boasts some of the finest defensive talent in the modern game. The likes of Juventus hard men, Fabio Cannavaro and Giorgio Chiellini, as well as AC Milan’s Gianluca Zambrotta will take their places on the field knowing that even if somehow a player gets beyond their solid defensive line, they will then have to beat one of the world’s best goalkeepers, Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus) to have any chance of defeating the Azzuri in South Africa. For opposition teams looking for potential weaknesses in the Italian team, think speed. While the Azzuri have some of the greatest soccer players of all time in their ranks for South Africa, they also have one of the oldest squads at the tournament. Fast, attacking teams will cause Marcello Lippi’s men plenty of problems if they can isolate Cannavaro and Chiellini. This is certainly easier said than done. Marcello Lippi tends to play a defensive 4-5-1 formation, which in South Africa, will mean that Fiorentina front man Alberto Gilardino will be leading the line hoping for quality service from the likes of midfield conductor Angelo Pirlo.
Paraguay will be going to South Africa 2010 with a refreshed, youthful squad. Argentine Coach Gerardo Martino prefers his teams to play an attacking brand of football, which, combined with their reputation for a strong defense, puts La Albirroja in a very good position to do well at this tournament. Paraguay’s chances in the World Cup will depend on how well star-striker Roque Santa Cruz can recover from an injury-ravaged season in the Premier League with Manchester City. While Borussia Dortmund hot-shot Nelson Haedo Valdez and Benfica forward Oscar Cardozo deputized well in qualifying, Santa Cruz’s experience on the world stage will be vital for Paraguay when they take the field at South Africa 2010. Goal-scoring has often been a problem for Paraguay in tournament football and that could be their main weakness again this time around. Paraguay’s team in South Africa have an unpredictable look about them, though, and results in qualifying show that given the opportunity, they can beat the best teams in the world.
This is expected to be a low-scoring game, but the Italians are the clear favorites. Marcelo Lippi’s team play a possession game to tire out the opposition and in this case Paraguay will be only too happy to allow the Italians to play in front of them as they will be hoping that once Italy do come forward, they can exploit any spaces behind an aging Italian backline. Italy’s superior passing will be the key, though. Any slight mistake in positional play will be seized upon by pass-master Pirlo. Italy’s confidence will be high going into this game and it’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that this game will be a comfortable victory for the reigning World Cup champions.
Italy vs Paraguay Prediction: Italy 2 – 0 Paraguay
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