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World Cup: Slovakia Preview

Slovakia is making their first World Cup appearance and while they have the third best odds to win their group they are a squad that has a strong defense and led their European qualifying group in goals.

Slovakia is in Group F along with defending World Cup champion Italy, Paraguay, and New Zealand.
Bovada has Slovakia +20000 to win the World Cup and at +1000 to win Group E.

While this is Slovakia’s first World Cup appearance, but made eight of them when they were a part of Czechoslovakia from 1918 until 1992. They are not in a very tough group and if the odds makers are right they should beat New Zealand and lose to Italy, so their match against Paraguay may decide which team makes it to the knock-out phase and which team goes home.

The strength of the Slovakian squad is their defense led by the players of G Jan Mucha and central defender Martin Skrtel of Liverpool. Skrtel is a defender that is very quick and very rarely loses one-on-one battles. The offense can score, as they showed in European qualifying, and while their strikers are not world-class they do have a couple of good attacking midfielders in Marek Hamsik of Napoli and veteran Miroslav Karhan of Mainz.

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The glaring weakness for Slovakia is their lack of players that have a high level of experience on the international level. They do have some players that play at great teams, but not many. Also the reserves a major question mark, as Slovakia cannot afford any injuries to their big guns, as they do not have many of them.

Head coach Vladimir Weiss is a very respected coach in Slovakia and he played for the Czechoslovakian national team. He will have to manage his players well and may want to rest his main players so they will be 100% for the Paraguay match, as that one is the big one.

Slovakia does not come into this World Cup with a lot of expectations, but their first match against New Zealand is an important one. If they win they have a decent shot to make it out of Group F, but if they lose or even play to a draw making it out of group play will be a major uphill battle, as they may have to, at least, play to a draw with Italy.

Slovakia World Cup Schedule

6/15/2010 New Zealand vs. Slovakia
6/20/2010 Slovakia vs. Paraguay
6/24/2010 Slovakia vs. Italy