Italy, Paraguay, New Zealand and Slovakia will make up Group F...
Here we see Group F:
|New Zealand (OFC)|
Group D and Group G are both very evenly balanced, while tricky challenges await the Netherlands and Spain in Group E and Group H respectively. Group F, on the other hand, is relatively lightweight. While it contains the holders, neither New Zealand nor Slovakia hold any real weight on the international scene. This is only the All Whites' second World Cup, while 2010 is Slovakia's debut. Paraguay have had slightly more success in the World Cup, but have never progressed beyond the last 16. Don't expect anyone but Italy to reach the latter stages of the competition from this group.
Italy must be considered heavy favourites for this group. The Azzurri are reigning world champions and have shown their quality during the qualification phase, dropping just six points. Marcello Lippi has already intimated that he knows the majority of his squad for the World Cup, and they will have both the talent and the experience with which to qualify from the group with relative ease.
Battle for Second
Having picked up wins against both Argentina and Brazil during the CONMEBOL qualification phase, Paraguay showed that they will be no pushovers on the big stage. They conceded less than a goal a game during qualifying, while the likes of Roque Santa Cruz and Salvador Cabanas will be leading the line. Like Italy, the Paraguayan mentality is more inclined towards defence than attack, but they should have enough going forward to secure second place in the group.
It's a toss up between New Zealand and Slovakia to see who will finish bottom of the group. New Zealand's only previous appearance in the World Cup finals came in 1982, when they lost all three matches. Slovakia have the stellar Marek Hamsik in their ranks and came through a far more difficult qualifying campaign than the All Whites, but their lack of experience at the very top level may hinder them a little.
The Long Road Forward
Whoever tops Group F will meet the runners up in Group E in Pretoria. Cameroon and Denmark are likely to be competing for second place. The runners up will meet the Group E winners, most likely the Netherlands. It will get more difficult as the tournament goes on, as the group winners should meet Spain in the quarter finals, while the runners up could meet Brazil.
What The Numbers Say
Powered by Castrol Predictior - crunching the numbers to find the strength of each team and the path they take to the final
|Team||Qualify for Second Round||Qualify for Quarter Final||Qualify For Semi Final||Qualify for Final||Win|
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