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The Cup Running Over


June 20, 2010 11:45 AM

Sunday Group F Review: Italy Falters, Paraguay Does Not

SLOVAKIA-PARAGUAY

Slovakia looked good coming into this tournament. We don't know quite what happened, but its miserable run continued with a 2-0 loss to Paraguay in a highly forgettable match. The Slovak attack, known in qualification for its creative play orchestrated by Marek Hamsik, is nowhere to be seen: today Slovakia only managed a single shot on target. Rarely under pressure, Paraguay utilized its strikers Roque Santa Cruz and Lucas Barrios brilliantly, and both were involved in the build up to both goals. What's more, Paraguay didn't even seem to try that hard - "Paraguay didn't play as well as they can," Slovakia manager Vladimir Weiss said after the match, "and we still lost." Paraguay will likely rout New Zealand in the final match, and so look set to win the group, paving the way to a possible quarterfinal spot. South America's traditionally most underrated team has been underrated yet again.



ITALY-NEW ZEALAND

I'm sorry, Marcelo Lippi. We know that Italy starts slow at every tournament, but this is getting ridiculous. On paper, Italy should have hammered New Zealand, but in another faltering display drew 1-1. Despite the fact that New Zealand's goal had more than a whiff of offside to it, the Italians should have won this game, or at least scored from open play (a penalty had to salvage the points). Italy completely controlled the game - so much that when New Zealand occasionally got the ball in Italy's half, it didn't even know what to do with it - and failed to translate possession into goals. Credit has to go to New Zealand's keeper Mark Paston for a superb performance, but really, Italy should be scoring more, even without Andrea Pirlo. If the group stays like this, a tantalizing Italy-Netherlands match up is on the cards for the round of 16. Will the Azzuri pull it together then? It'd be the Italian way, but on the evidence so far, it looks highly unlikely.

A review of Ivory Coast-Brazil will be posted tonight.

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