Group F – Italy, Paraguay, New Zealand, Slovakia

Group F hosts the reigning Champions Italy who will be back to defend their crown at the 2010 World Cup and they are joined by Paraguay, New Zealand and Slovakia in this group.

The winners of Group F will meet the second placed team of Group E, while the runners-up of this group will play the winner of Group E.

Italy has won 4 World Cup trophies, including the most recent in 2006 when they defeated France, and coach Marcello Lippi will lead the reigning champions into the 2010 World Cup with plenty of self belief.

The Italians are always strong down back and with a classy midfield they should easily advance past this round.

Talented players Gigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Pirlo will be ones to watch for Italy and they are one of the shortest priced teams to make it through to the second round.

Italy has lost to Mexico (2-1) and drawn to Switzerland (1-1) in their final two lead up matches and Leonardo Bonucci and Fabio Quagliarella got on the scoresheet.

Paraguay has failed to make it past the first knockout round in eight attempts at the highest level and coach Gerardo Martino will be trying to change that statistic at the 2010 World Cup.

Renowned for their defensive prowess, the Paraguayans conceded less than a goal a match in the qualifying rounds against quality opponents and were most competitive with the likes of Brazil and Argentina.

The creativity of Cristian Riveros in the middle and the attacking prowess of Salvador Cabanas and Nelson Haedo Valdez will take Paraguay a long way and they are heavily favoured to finish second behind Italy in this group.

In recent friendlies Paraguay has beaten North Korea (1-0), lost to Ireland (2-1), drew with Ivory Coast (2-2) and then defeated Greece (2-0) in their final warm up game. Lucas Barrios managed three goals along the way.

New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert faces a tough task to get New Zealand through to the second round against such tough opposition and much will be relied upon experienced players Ryan Nelsen, Chris Killen and Leo Bertos to fly the flag for All Whites.

New Zealand’s recent friendly form has resulted in a loss to Australia (2-1) before they scored a good win over Serbia (1-0) and more recently were beaten by Slovenia (3-1).

The bookies have New Zealand at very big odds to make it past this stage and if they manage to snare a couple of draws or win a match then it would be considered a good effort.

Slovakia tackle their first World Cup as an independent Republic, after formerly being a part Czechoslovakia from 1918 until 1992.

Coach Vladimir Weiss has done a terrific job qualifying Slovakia for the 2010 World Cup.

The Slovakians are fancied to finish third in this group but they cannot be taken lightly with players such as Miroslav Karhan, Martin Skrtel and Marek Hamsik in the team, and while they may not get past this round, they could surprise a few.

Slovakia has performed creditably in recent friendlies with a Cameroon (1-1) draw before defeating Costa Rica (3-0) in their final warm up game.

World Cup Group F Betting Markets and Odds

World Cup Group F Predictions

1. Italy 2. Paraguay 3. Slovakia 4. New Zealand

Italy are reigning World Cup champions and all things being equal they should finish on top in this group on class alone.

Paraguay were impressive qualifying and they look well placed to grab second spot.

Slovakia will hold their own but may just fall short when all is said and done while New Zealand will be competitive but appear to lack the necessary firepower to make it past this stage.

World Cup Group F First Match
Italy will play Paraguay at Cape Town in the first group F match.

Jun 15th Italy vs. Paraguay Cape Town 4:30am Odds
Jun 15th New Zealand vs. Slovakia Rustenburg 9:30pm Odds
Jun 20th Slovakia vs. Paraguay Mangaung 9:30pm Odds
Jun 21st Italy vs. New Zealand Nelspruit 12:00am Odds
Jun 25th Slovakia vs. Italy Johannesburg 12:00am Odds
Jun 25th Paraguay vs. New Zealand Polokwane 12:00am Odds

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Filed Under: 2010 World Cup