World Cup champions Italy weren’t the best team in the tournament last time around and they won. They aren’t the best team this time either, so can they repeat the feat? They have retained the spine of team that won in Berlin as Buffon, Zambrotta, Cannavaro, Pirlo, Camoranesi and De Rossi are all included in the squad. No Marco Materazzi this time so everyone’s sisters are safe from insults. Also in the squad are two players from Sampdoria, Palombo and Pazzini both had a great season and Pazzini joins an already formidable group of strikers including Di Natale, Quagliarella and Gilardino. I believe this Italian squad is as good as the one at the last World Cup and they will certainly qualify from this group. Although I doubt they will lift the trophy again in July.
I spent a year and a half living in New Zealand and I love the country. Unfortunately I think they will struggle to get a draw never mind a win in the group games. They finished top of their qualifying group, although the other group members were Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia, and then narrowly defeated Bahrain in a play-off. Their best player is Blackburn’s Ryan Nelson who will have a job on his hands to get the other players to play at his level. No chance unless the new World Cup ball is egg-shaped…
Paraguay have some great players and defeated Argentina, Brazil and Chile during the qualifying campaign. They finally finished in third place in their group and will expect to progress to the next round. The game against Slovakia will be key for them. Their top scorer was shot in the head in February and unsurprisingly is not in the squad. They will be relying on Borussia Dortmund’s Lucas Barrios, Benfica’s Oscar Cardozo and new Sunderland player Cristian Riveros to provide them with the goals to see them through.
Slovakia have a young and talented squad and could surprise a few at this tournament. Liverpool’s Martin Skrtel and Napoli’s Marek Hamsik are the standout players in this team. Slovakia finished top of a qualifying group that contained Slovenia, Poland and the Czech Republic so they are no pushovers. If they can beat Paraguay in the second group game they will go through.
Ok definitely Italy to go through and then I think Slovakia will join them. Could easily be Paraguay though.