Italia v Slovakia
Football : FIFA World Cup 2010 : Group Phase
Thursday 24th June 2010 - Kickoff 15:00 BST
Last 5 Italy International Results :
Marcello Lippiís Italia side enter this game with huge pressure on their shoulders, the current champions know a win will mean qualification but they can go out if they draw or lose if the result in the Paraguay Ė New Zealand game goes against them.
Normally we expect a side like Italy to win this kind of high pressure game but this is the only side in the tournament yet to win in 2010! They find themselves in this position thanks to two shocking performances against Paraguay and New Zealand which both ended in 1-1 draws and in both games the Italians fell a goal behind but came back to draw.
In both games the Azzurri very much dominated possession but due to the lack of creativity and final ball strikers Gilardino and Iaquinta have been starved of service in both games. The Italians have also caused their own downfall in both games, against Paraguay a poor defensive setup from a set piece caused the Paraguayans to score against the run of play. Then again against New Zealand, Italy defended a set piece poorly allowing the All Blacks to win the first header and then tapped the ball in from 3 yards out.
I must stress that in both games however, that despite conceding two sloppy goals in each game, the Italians very much dominated both and bar the odd counter neither New Zealand nor Paraguay created a lot going forward. I also wanted to point out that the New Zealand goal was offside and shouldnít have stood. YET for a preview purpose itís the fact that in that game and that goal, the Italian defence again failed to win the first aerial ball and against Slovakia could prove to be a weakness that Slovakia could exploit.
An interesting stat is that Italy has conceded both goals to the only two shots on target that they have faced all tournament and with keeper Buffon still out this is not a good omen for the Azzurri.
Italy is hoping creative midfielder and set piece taker Pirlo is fit following a calf injury as without him the midfield is just not creating any clear chances for the Auzzurri and they miss his quality dearly. I personally donít think Pirlo will start and instead we shall see the same lineup from the first two games with a 4-3-3 expected from Lippiís men.
Lippi tried the 4-4-2 in game 2 but soon reverted to 4-3-3 Italy went looking for goals and as this is must win we expect the same again tomorrow. The only change we may see is Marchisio making way for Di Natale who will occupy the left, Gilardino will play in the middle with Iaquinta on the right.
Predicted Italia Lineup :
Marchetti, Criscito, Chiellini, Cannavaro, Zambrotta, De Rossi, Pepe, Di Natale, Montolivo, Iaquinita, Gilardino
Last 5 Slovakia International Results :
Wladimir Weissís side come into this all or nothing clash with Italy on 1 point and if they beat the Italians they will be in the last 16, if they draw or lose itís the end of their World Cup dream.
Despite being bottom of the group Slovakia have an outside to qualify and will certainly cause a huge upset if they do so. In game one they looked very comfortable against New Zealand but a last minute laps in concentration mean that the All Blacks snatched a point with almost the last kick of the game in a match that ended 1-1. That day, Slovakia played well but the New Zealanderís were clearly very nervous but Slovakia didnít make them pay and they had it all to do in their last two games.
With a point in the bag, be it a disappointing one, Paraguay were up next but Weissís men were very much outclassed and out battled by their South American counterparts who won quite easily 2-0. Now itís hard to give Slovakia a real rating as at times they have looked decent but also very, very poor and against a nervous Italian team, just how will they play and how will they cope with the occasion?
Against Paraguay the Slovakís registered just the one shot on target and only 2 against New Zealand which is horrific! The Italians will keep the ball for long spells but are unlikely to open up what is an organised midfield and defence, therefore itís essential that when Slovakia has the ball that they try and be positive and attack themselves.
An alternative angle is that, New Zealand and Paraguay didnít attack Italy and both did well to get a point but remember a point isnít enough here, Slovakia needs 3 points and I feel if they try to over commit they may be very vulnerable on the break even if against a slow attack like Italyís..
Team news is that ex-Chelsea winger Stoch should be recalled to the side and his pace on the wing will certainly keep the Italian full backs on their toes. From what Iíve read he likes to take people on and often switches flanks so look for Slovakia to play through him as well as the very talented Weiss, no not the manager but the Manchester City midfielder who looks very sharp with quick feet.
I feel with Weiss and Stoch on both flanks the counter attack will suite Slovakia in tomorrowís game but they must get some shots away as 3 shots on target all campaign is just not good enough at this level. There is no one suspended for this game so we should see the same 11 from last time out other than Stoch coming in on the right.
Predicted SLovakia Lineup :
Mucha, Zabavnik, Durica, Skrtel, Cech, Weiss, Stock, Vittek, Hamsik, Sestak, Jendrisek.
The Betting Verdict
I really donít like this match up, it could be a cagey and dull affair. Italy is unlikely to go all out for the win despite knowing it will get them qualified.
Instead Italy will play their own game and assess things as they go on. The key may be how Paraguay is doing in the other game, either way I think Italy will just edge this game in a low scoring encounter.
Take Italy. Good Luck.
The Pick :
Italia 1-0 Slovakia
PERCENTAGE ESTIMATE :
Italia 63%- Draw 24%- Slovakia 13%
FIXED ODDS BETTING :
Take Italy @ 1.60 Pinnaclesports
HANDICAP BETTING :
Or try the Draw/Italy HT/FT market as it could be a cagey encounter early on @ 5.00 Canbet