Paraguay showed against Italy that they are capable of going toe-to-toe with the world’s best players. The South Americans almost came out of the occasion with a victory too, but a 1-1 draw against the world champions was still a solid way to begin their campaign. Slovakia also began the group stages with a 1-1 draw, albeit in far different circumstances. Expected to overcome New Zealand without too much trouble, Slovakia were pegged back by a last-minute equalizer which leaves each team in Group F on one point and with all to play for going into this second round of group games.
Paraguay vs Slovakia Betting Odds:
For Slovakia, the New Zealand game was supposed to be a comfortable victory and a warm-up for tougher tests to come. But despite their superiority in terms of possession, Slovakia just couldn’t create the chances needed to put the game away. Midfielder Vladimir Weiss was a constant threat, though. His bursting runs down the right wing had the New Zealand defenders on the toes for the entire game. To cause a shock and beat a hardworking Paraguay team in this game, Slovakia will need key midfielder Marek Hamsik to deliver on the promise he’s shown at club level with Napoli. Hamsik was disappointing against New Zealand, misplacing passes and giving the ball away on numerous occasions. If the talented Hamsik is in confident mood and Vladimir Weiss continues his great form, Slovakia have a great chance defeat Paraguay and put themselves in a great position to qualify for the second round of the competition.
The strength of the Paraguayan team is their togetherness. When they lost the ball against Italy, each player knew their defensive position. The structure of the Paraguayan formation, playing with one striker ahead of a five-man midfield, and the pressure each player put on the Italian player in possession, meant that an under-par Italy team had little time on the ball to play their short passing game. It was a resilient defensive display by the Paraguayans.
Surprisingly, Paraguay scored their goal against Italy from a set piece. The usually watertight Italian defense were undone by an inch-perfect deliver from a free-kick by Paraguay midfielder Victor Caceres, which Antolin Alcaraz headed into the goal brilliantly after rising high above Italian legend Fabio Cannavaro. The set-piece delivery by Caceres was Paraguay’s best attacking weapon all game but defending from set pieces was also their biggest weakness. It was a mistake by goalkeeper Justo Villar that led to Italy’s goal, as he completely misjudged a free kick and allowed Danielle De Rossi to put the ball into the unguarded net. Slovakia will try to test Villar at every set piece opportunity, and giant defender Martin Skrtel will have to be monitored closely by the Paraguayan backline.
In open play, the Paraguayan forwards struggled to impose themselves up against the likes of Cannavaro and Giorgio Chiellini. For Paraguay to build on their solid result against the current World Champions Italy, they must be faster to release the ball from midfield during open play, giving their skillful strikers such as Lucas Barrios and Roque Santa Cruz the upper-hand on the Slovakian defenders who don’t have the pace to match them.
This game hinges on the performance and fitness of two players. Marek Hamsik is the Slovakian dangerman. He has the trickery and shooting ability to put his teammates into the knockout rounds of the competition. If Hamsik gets his confidence back after a poor performance against New Zealand, Slovakia are very capable of winning this game. Paraguay’s chances of scoring a few goals here depend on the fitness of star striker Roque Santa Cruz. After making an appearance late in the game against Italy, Santa Cruz will want to play a bigger part in this game and has the ability to make a telling impact. It’s going to be tight between these two and barring a standout performance from one of the previously mentioned star players, a draw is the most likely result.
Paraguay vs Slovakia Prediction: Paraguay 1-1-Slovakia
Did you know you can Bet World Cup 2010 Online?