BfB Goes To The World Cup 2010 (Without leaving the front room)

If the World Cup story of Cameroon is already done when that of the four in Group F: Italy, New Zealand, Slovakia and Paraguay; have hardly begun.

All four drew 1-1 in their opening games and each can take different things from those results. New Zealand – who play Italy later today are most pleased while Paraguay – securing a draw with the reigning champions – quietly enjoyed a good result which they look to build on.

Slovakia’s draw in the opening game was a odd one – the result of playing cautious in not wanting to surrender the result they surrendered – and perhaps as Paraguay start off by attacking a deep laying European side they are doing the same although the merits of two draws when your final game is against Italy are questionable.

Paraguay go close early on with Roque Santa Cruz taking an early strike which takes a deflection and goes wide.

This game perhaps illustrates the differences between the European and South American mentality. Both these team qualified well but there is a feeling that that the South Americans are naturally attacking while Europeans are primarily defensive. Nevertheless it was the the abilities to switch those – we suppose – natural traits that defined the first games. Paraguay were able to put in a good defensive display for the result they wanted but Slovakia were less able to make attacking play count.

Ján Durica crosses behind the goal – the quality of crossing in this World Cup has been surprisingly low considering how many teams who are doing well have done so because of good delivery – as Slovakia attack in few numbers. Paraguay’s 433 has movement between the lines and looks more flexible.

Claudio Morel’s delivery starts to cause problems with the full back playing two dangerous balls in but it is midfielder Cristian Riveros who ends up hammering the ball at goal for Ján Mucha to take.

Paraguay get the goal that there play deserves. A skilful ball played in low from deep goes into Enrique Vera who runs across the front of the Slovakia back line picking out the rushing Lucas Barrios who burst from the midfield to come through and finishes with the outside of his boot under pressure from defenders. It is a lovely example of fluid, team football bringing about a goal and a joy to watch.

Paraguay continue the expansive play. They pressure the Slovakia back line with ease and go into half time looking comfortable. Even a draw favours Paraguay in this game and the attitude of the Slovaks is so limiting. The second half sees a foray or two more but even in attacking from one down the Europeans come forward with twos and threes and are dealt with with ease. Antolín Alcaraz brushes off Róbert Vittek in a race for the ball and it all is being made to look easy by the South Americans.

Santa Cruz got to the byline and cut back to Vera who heads just wide as Paraguay look to double their lead but never look like losing it. In the closing minutes of the game Paraguay deliver well again through Aureliano Torres who sees Paulo da Silva head back and – after a few men in red and white are able to have a debate on it – Riveros is nominated to belt the ball into the back of the net.

Paraguay – with New Zealand left to play – have a foot in the second round while Slovaks must wonder why their side approached the game which such a defensive mindset.

They will take tune in to see if Italy beat New Zealand and – should they – start planning how best they will defeat the reigning champions to secure a place in the second round. Such confidence is rare and from the evidence two games massively misplaced.

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