CHARLIE’S CHALK TALK 2010 World Cup Preview- Group F



World Cup 2006’s reigning champion will struggle mightily to make it two in a row in South Africa 2010.  Make no mistake about it, this is not your father’s Italy.  They will probably still get out of their group, but will not make a run like they did in 2006.  I don’t think this team possesses the quality to make another run like they had in 2006.  The Italians boring style of playing incredibly tight at the back and rarely taking chances frustrates opponents into changing their plan of attack against the Italians.  I think that their general nucleus of players is just too old to compete.  Out of the 23 players of their National Team, 9 of them are over the age of 30, and the youngest player on their squad is only 23.  I believe Italy might struggle making it out of this group.  They have tied 4 of their last 6 friendlies, with 3 of those ending in dull 0-0 draws.  Beating the likes of Cyprus, Bulgaria, and Georgia, Italy easily made it out of their group.

3 Key Players

  1. Andrea Pirlo – The Milan man heads into the World Cup with a slight knock, which is a cause for concerns for the Italians.  There’s no question about it, the Italian’s achieve success with this man in the first team.  He pulls the strings from his central midfield position, and his creativity and poise on the ball is part of what makes the Italian’s such a strong National Team.
  2. Ginlugi Buffon – Italy’s rock solid Keeper since 2002, Buffon keeps his team in games at crucial moments with incredible saves.  He’s often an unsung hero to Italy’s 2006 World Cup Victory in Germany.
  3. Antonio Di Natale – Di Natale has had a rather underrated career for both the Italian National Team and Udinese in Italy.  Due in large part to being stuck behind prominent Italian strikers like Alessandro Del Piero, Luca Toni, and Pippo Inzaghi, Di Natale quietly possess an incredible ability to put the ball in the back of the net.  With Udinese, he’s scored 86 times in 192 games, which equates to a strike rate of nearly a goal every 2 games!  I look for him to have a great World Cup, and possibly get bought by a bigger team in Europe.(



This is a squad that is going to get absolutely killed in the World Cup.  I will be surprised if this team squeaks out a goal in the entire competition.  Their team features a player that is 35 years old and is currently without a club, and another player currently playing in the USL2, a league in America beneath the MLS.  Yes, there is a player in this years WORLD CUP that is playing in a league beneath the MLS.  They qualified for the world cup against powerhouse national teams such as Bahrain, New Caledonia, and Fiji.  By the way, they lost to both Bahrain and Fiji in qualifying.  I thoroughly expect for Paraguay, Slovakia, and Italy to tea off on this lowly selection of players.

3 Key Players

There aren’t any.  This team is not worth paying attention to in the least.  Sorry Kiwi’s.


The Paraguyan’s feature a great mix of players playing in both Europe and South America, which makes for a very interesting and appealing brand of soccer.  This is a team that has had some good victories in this cycle of friendlies and qualifiers, beating Greece convincingly, and beating both Brazil and Argentina in qualifying.  Like the Chilean’s, the Paraguayan’s also had some key victories in qualifying against Brazil and Argentina.  Paraguay has a balanced team, with a disciplined defense and forwards who always seem to take advantage of their chances and score goals in abundance.  I look for them to maybe even win this group if the Italians are not absolutely careful playing them.

3 Key Players

  1. Roque Santa Cruz – Paraguya’s classic #9 shirt belongs to Roque Santa Cruz.  Santa Cruz’s goal ratio in relation to games played at the international and club level is incredible.  From 2007 to 2009 with Blackburn Rovers Santa Cruz scored 23 times in 57 games, and has scored 21 times in 68 games for the Paraguyan national team.  Santa Cruz is an ideal goal scorer, as he possess pace, ability to get on the end of crosses, and the technique to score many different ways. (
  2. Paulo da Silva – The Captain of the Paraguayans, this central defender also regularly produces for Sunderland in the English Premier League.  Silva is strong in the air, and was awarded as the best overall player in the Mexican League in 2008 before transferring to Sundrland.
  3. Christian Riveros – da Silva’s teammate with Paraguay and with Sunderland in the EPl, Riveros provides a great spark from the midfield for Paraguay.  He operates in the center of midfield and plays as a link up player moving the ball between the defense and the forwards. 



Slovakia has a good mix of veterans and young-in’s that provide a balance of experienced veteran defenders with young flashy attackers.  The midfield is littered with creative, confident young players that should provide a fantastic spark for this Slovakian team if they can get settled early.  Watch for one of these young players from their midfield to make a name for himself on the world stage.  The Slovakians are a fairly strong side, but have had a very up and down time qualifying for the world cup and playing friendlies of late.  They beat America 1-0 with a great defensive effort, but then were torched 4-0 by England and 3-2 by Ukraine.  The team may still be a bit too young, and if their youngsters don’t step up from the midfield, this team will have problems creating chances.  Getting a point off of Italy will prove to be the crucial game for the Slovakians.  In the end, I don’t think they have what it takes to deal with Paraguay’s latin american style of play.  The Paraguayan’s will dominate the possession, and look to keep Slovakia chasing the ball.  This will more than likely frustrate the young Slovakian attackers and play them right out of the game.

3 Key Players

  1. Marek Hamsik – The Slovakian’s are led by their dazzling midfielder from Napoli.  Hamsik has incredibly nothced over 100 club appearences for Napol at just 22 years old.  Although he may just be 22 year’s old, this kid is filled with confidence and skill on the ball.  He could very well end up being one of the rather unknown players who makes a huge name for themselves during the World Cup. (
  2. Martin Skrtel – Liverpool’s no non sense defender is physical and plays tactically very aware.  Skrtel usually man marks his opposition’s best striker out  of the game entirely, and frustrates him by blanketing him.  His tough play has earned him much accolades from Liverpool supporters, and is one of the fan favorites for a fan base of hard working people.
  3. Vladimir Weiss – A similar player to Hamsik, Weiss is another young up and coming futboler who operates from the midfield.  Weiss is a very flashy player, and enjoys putting on a show for both the fans and I think himself as well.  He’s currently on the books at Man City, but was loaned out all last season to Bolton Wanderers.
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