Greetings Bethome.gr punters! The final group games are slowly but surely coming to an end and the World Cup is heading towards the business end of the competition. Group F contains reigning title holders Italy, who have put themselves in a situation whereby they need to beat the Slovaks in order to be assured of qualification. Let’s take a closer look at the game.
Slovakia – Italy.
The moment of truth has finally arrived for the reigning world champions. Italy will take on Slovakia at the “Ellis Park Stadium” in Johannesburg and play their final cards in an attempt to book their ticket into the final 16. A win assures them of a place no matter what happens in the other game between Paraguay and New Zealand. In the event of a draw, then they will be relying on New Zealand to beat Paraguay. In the event that both games end in draws, then the team that has scored the most goals today will go through.
In the event of both games ending in draws with the same score line then Paraguay will go through as first and lots will be drawn between Italy and New Zealand for second spot. The picture is much clearer for the Slovaks. They need to win their game and hope New Zealand do not beat Paraguay.
There is plenty of unrest in the Slovakia camp after they went down to Paraguay without a fight. Head coach Vladimir Weiss couldn’t contain his anger yet again and threatened a journalist during the post match conference, which lasted less than a minute, and nearly actually hit him. He apologised the following day for his behaviour. Slovakia only managed to make one shot on target against Paraguay and they are searching for answers in attack. On a bright note, the coach has a full squad at his disposal.
An unexpected draw against New Zealand has caused restlessness within the Italy camp. Marcello Lippi is concerned with the forward set up of his team based on what they have shown on the pitch to date. He will head into this game with an attacking minded 4-3-3 formation. What is strange is that he will keep Gilardino to spearhead the three pronged attack with Di Natale and Iaquinta on either side. Rino Gattuso will come in for Marchisio in the middle of the pitch. Andreas Pirlo remains on the bench despite having returned to training, while injured keeper Gigi Buffon remains sidelined.
Slovakia: Mucha; Pekarik, Skrtel, Durica, Cech; Strba, Weiss, Stoch; Hamsik; Vittek, Sestak
Italy: Marchetti; Zambrotta, Chiellini, Cannavaro, Criscito; Gattuso, Montolivo, De Rossi; Di Natale, Gilardino, Iaquinta
SELECTION: Given the way Italy are playing I don’t think there will be many goals. My selection is under 2.5 goals.