World Cup: SBI's Group F Preview

World Cup: SBI's Group F Preview

World Cup 2010

World Cup: SBI's Group F Preview

By

Cannavaro

By TRAVIS CLARK

Can Italy win back-to-back World Cups? Marcello Lippi is relying on a squad heavy on experience and age in the quest to become the first nation to repeat since Brazil in 1962. While their age is a concern, a squad led by players like Gianluigi Buffon, Andrea Pirlo and Fabio Cannavaro cannot be written off.

Paraguay would be a much more dangerous side, if not for the tragic attack on Salvador Cabañas back in January, and the poor form of Roque Santa Cruz. Looking to fill the void and boost the attack is the naturalization of Lucas Barrios and Benfica's Oscar Cardozo.

New Zealand is a side happy to have made its first finals since 1982, and just a second appearance overall. Captain Ryan Nelsen is the team's most prominent figure, out to prove that New Zealand can muster anything more than three games and out. Shane Smeltz and Rory Fallon must score early and often for the All Whites to have any chance of springing any sort of upset.

Slovakia is technically making its debut at the World Cup — from 1960 to 1992, it competed as Czechoslovakia, before the country split into two back in 1993 — and the inexperience could prove costly during the first round. A solid foundation of Marek Hamsik, Stanislav Sestak, and Martin Å krtel is augmented by exciting young talents Vladimír Weiss and Miroslav Stoch. The head-to-head match against Paraguay could determine the other nation to advance.

Here is SBI's take on Group F:

WORLD CUP GROUP F

Top Players to Watch

Gianluigi Buffon, Italy

Alberto Gilardino, Italy

Marek Hamsik, Slovakia

Martin Å krtel, Slovakia

Ryan Nelsen, New Zealand

Oscar Cardozo, Paraguay

Young Players to Watch

Vladimír Weiss, Slovakia

Miroslav Stoch, Slovakia

Chris Wood, New Zealand

Édgar Benítez, Paraguay

SBI's Predicted Order of Finish

1. Italy

2. Paraguay

3. Slovakia

4. New Zealand

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How do you see Group F playing out?

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