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Old June 19, 2010, 10:02 PM
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al-Sagar al-Sagar is offline
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Default SLOVAKIA vs PARAGUAY Preview

High stakes in Group F

Paraguay go into this Group F clash in high spirits after holding world champions Italy to 1-1 draw in their opening match and victory against Slovakia would leave them with one foot in the knockout stages.

However, coach Gerardo Martino believes his team can progress with two more draws so it is unlikely that Paraguay will go all out in attack, especially with World Cup minnows New Zealand still to come.

Star forwards Roque Santa Cruz and Oscar Cardozo are both returning from injury lay-offs and started on the bench against Italy, although they both came on to get taste of the action. Martino is unlikely to want to radically change his team so it is expected only one of the pair will make his starting XI.

Slovakia's late lack of concentration cost them victory against New Zealand when they allowed Winston Reid to score an injury-time header to claim a 1-1 draw. As a consequence, the pressure is on to get a result in a group where all four teams have one point after the first round of games. With Italy lying in wait, this will be the game earmarked for three points.

Slovakia player to watch: Vladimir Weiss
- As the son of the manager the spotlight is always going to be on the young winger and against New Zealand he put on a scintillating display. Weiss provides a constant threat and is always quick to go the attack.

Paraguay player to watch: Cristian Riveros
- The Cruz Azul player is the hub around which Paraguay's midfield operates. He offers a mix of sharp tackling, box-to-box running and an excellent pass-and-move game. Although not prolific, he is a scorer of important goals.

Key battle: Marek Hamsik v Victor Caceres.
Slovakia's playmaker is rumoured to be attracting the attention of Europe's top clubs and will be given the task of unlocking Paraguay's rear-guard. Caceres is the tough tackling, tactically astute defensive midfielder charged with stopping Hamsik. But if he picks up another yellow card he will miss Paraguay's final group game.

Trivia: Robert Vittek scored in his first appearance in the 2010 finals, this after failing to score in any of his nine appearances for Slovakia during qualification.

Stats: Six of the last ten goals Paraguay have conceded at the World Cup finals have come from set-pieces. And they have won just one of their last 12 World Cup games against European opposition.

Odds: Slovakia (3.75), Paraguay (2.10) and the draw (3.20) are all on offer at Bet365, but a 2-2 draw will get 21.00.

Prediction: This will be a closely fought match and with both sides struggling to win recently a draw looks the likely result.
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