Thursday, June 24, 2010

Paraguay vs New Zealand - Preview

New Zealand

Group F, 14:00 GMT, June 24, 2010
Peter Mokaba Stadium, Polokwane, South Africa

If New Zealand were to pick up a scoring draw and Italy were held 0-0 by Slovakia, then the All Whites would go through on goal scored and if they both manage to draw by the same scoreline then it goes to the drawing of lots. A win against Paraguay would also ensure New Zealand's progress (possibly as group winners) and it would represent the single biggest shock in World Cup history if they were to qualify.
Not given a hope of even getting a point at the tournament, they have impressed with their functional style of play and picked up two impressive points in their first two games. Who is to say they can't do it again?
Paraguay won't be an easy proposition though. The team that impressed more in the qualifiers than Argentina have shown that they have the spirit to push for top spot with a convincing win over Slovakia and a battling draw against Italy. Playing decent attacking football, with a high-energy approach, they have quality throughout their ranks and should be favourites.

Team Stat Comparison

ParaguayNew Zealand
Matches Played22
Table Position13
Goal Difference20
Goals for *0.01.0
Goals against *0.01.0
Last 5W-DD-D
Last 5 homeD
Last 5 awayW-DD
*  Goals per match - home matches for home club and away matches for away club
Stats: Paraguay | New Zealand

Competition Stats

ParaguayNew Zealand
GoalsCristian Riveros 1Winston Reid 1
AssistsShane Smeltz 1
YellowsEnrique Vera 1Winston Reid 1
Squads: Paraguay | New Zealand

Paraguay player to watch: Cristian Riveros . Steve Bruce may have picked himself up a bargain as the new Sunderland recruit has looked imperious in the Paraguay midfield. A brilliant pass-and-move player, his stamina has impressed and he has been one of the shining lights of Group F thus far. Boasting a tough tackle as well, Paraguay have used him on the left of a three-man midfield to control and win the ball back, while he has been encouraged to join the attack as much as possible.
New Zealand player to watch: Rory Fallon. While fellow striker Shane Smeltzhas taken the headlines for his goal against Italy, Fallon has been the battering ram up front that creates space for his team-mates. Criticised by the Italians for use of the arm while jumping, Fallon is a tough customer and can hold the ball up with his strength to give New Zealand a different option up front. The hero of the Bahrain play-off could use a goal though.
Key Battle: Lucas Barrios v Tommy Smith. Barrios has managed three goals and two assists in five games for Paraguay so far in his career and his star is on the rise. With pace and skill up front, he was tipped as one of the players to watch out for before the tournament and has come good. Alongside Ryan Nelsen, Smith has shown his talent at the tender age of 20, marshalling the defence and forming a great partnership with the Blackburn man. He gave away a silly penalty against Italy, but with that to the back of his mind, he will have his hands full stopping Barrios.
Trivia: This is the 750th match in World Cup history.
Stats: Twelve of Paraguay's last 13 wins have come when they have kept a clean sheet, while New Zealand have scored two goals from just three shots on target in this World Cup.
Odds: Paraguay (1,50), New Zealand (7.00) and a draw (4.20) are all available at Bet 365, but a 0-0 draw will get you 9.00.
Prediction: If New Zealand can play like they have thus far, they stand every chance of picking up another draw. One feels a tough 1-0 defeat may await them though.

Paraguay 2-0..

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