FIFA World Cup: Group F analysis

2 Jun

The group consists of (FIFA ranking):

  • Italy (5)
  • Paraguay (31)
  • New Zealand (78)
  • Slovakia (34)

Group F sees a number of defensively minded teams drawn together, so I would not be at all surprised to see it win the ‘Golden Group For Fewest Goals Conceded’ award at the end of the group stages.

Let’s start with the reigning World Cup holders Italy. Every pundit and his blog are pronouncing this an “easy” group for the defending champions. On the plus side, the Azzurri collectively possess vast amounts of experience. And, like France and Germany are well renowned as being a ‘tournament’ team, able to step up when it matters most. However, this experience could also prove to be Italy’s weakness. The team is OLD, make no mistake. I expect them to make it out of the Group but perhaps not advance much further than that, although of course few pundits thought that Italy would go as far as they did in 2006 either.

Paraguay have had a very impressive CONMEBOL qualification, beating both South American powerhouses Argentina and Brazil along the way. Over qualification Paraguay also conceded less than one goal per game, quite a contrast from some of the comical defending that is often seen in the region. Recent friendlies have seen La Albirroja (the white and red) beat N Korea 1-0, lose to crybabies Ireland 2-1 and draw with the Ivorian Coasters 2-2, which is a rather more ordinary return. The final squad of 23 was devoid of key striker Salvador Cabanas, who was shot in the head earlier this year. The manager reportedly said he didn’t want to risk any brain explosions in front of goal.

It is hard to look past New Zealand‘s All Whites to progress out of Group F. They are coming off the back of a historic victory in Europe over Serbia (1-0), they played local rivals Australia off the park in Melbourne  (despite eventually losing to a extra-extra time goal), and they are led by a tactical genius in Ricki Herbert, who has revolutionised football as we know it with his bold 7-0-3 formation. Furthermore, New Zealand got well amongst the goals against Italy in a warm-up match to last year’s Confederations Cup, putting three past the normally miserly blue defence. If the All Whites live up to their potential, with a little bit of luck thrown in for good measure, expect more than them simply topping Group F: expect this…

July 11 2010: The All Whites being presented with the World Cup

This is Slovakia‘s first World Cup and hence they don’t have the pedigree of the New Zealanders or Italians. Slovakia are only here as a result of a relatively easy qualification group in Europe. Recent form has been pretty ordinary, with a lacklustre 1-1 draw against Cameroon in their recent curtain-raiser to New Zealand-Serbia in Austria. I expect repre (not sure what this means sorry) to be at the bottom of the pile once Group play comes to an end.

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3 Responses to “FIFA World Cup: Group F analysis”

  1. Chris June 2, 2010 at 9:37 pm #

    Great post- loving the NZ section! Good photo too.

  2. dtaylor84 June 3, 2010 at 8:14 am #

    I like the fact New Zealand won the final in well-cut designer suits as well… class.

    • goonix June 3, 2010 at 8:26 am #

      Big stage calls for big dress sense.

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