WORLD CUP BETTING: Live on ITV1 & ITV4: Wed 15.00, BBC1 & BBC3: Wed 19.30: Day 14 of the WC; Slovakia v Italy, Paraguay v New Zealand, Denmark v Japan & Cameroon v Holland in Groups E & F.
One of the most impressive teams in the competition so far, Paraguay need only avoid defeat against New Zealand to book their place in the last 16. Slick and well-drilled, Gerardo Martino’s side look well placed to kill off the qualification dream of the All Whites, who defied the odds to secure a point against Italy but whose good fortune may finally have run out, and at 1/2 with bet365 the South Americans look a banker in Polokwane.
New Zealand, Stan James’ 7/1 outsiders, have scored twice in the competition so far, one of those a last-gasp header from a set piece while their strike against Italy came via a similar route, with Shane Smeltz smashing home from an offside position. Those goals aside, the All Whites have produced little in attack and Paraguay are a steal at 6/5 (888Sport) to emerge triumphant while shutting out their opponents.
Elsewhere, a second consecutive 2-0 triumph for Martino’s men is quoted by Jaxx.com at 5/1 and Ladbrokes mark 2/1 against them coming out on top in game containing no more than two goals.
Holders Italy have looked a shadow of the team that lifted the trophy four years ago, drawing their opening two fixtures but a decidedly average Slovakia team shouldn’t stand between the Azzurri and round two; Marcelo Lippi’s squad an 8/13 chance at 888Sport to land a vital three points.
Vladimir Weiss’ side barely figured as an attacking force against Paraguay and may struggle to make an impact going forward again so like the Group F leaders, the Italians can combine victory with a clean sheet (13/10, Gamebookers) in a fixture that is 4/7 with Betdaq to produce fewer than 2.5 goals.
In Group E, Holland and Cameroon’s clash is a dead rubber meaning that stakes on either the Dutch at 5/6 (Totesport) or the Indomitable Lions, Paddy Power’s 7/2 outsiders, should probably be kept relatively low, although this potentially open affair should be high-scoring.
By contrast, with both teams locked on three points, there is all to play for in the showdown between Denmark and Japan in Rustenburg. In possession of a superior goal difference, Takeshi Osada’s charges need only a draw (9/4, Betfred) to secure a second round berth but the Danes impressed in coming from behind to defeat Cameroon and they’re the pick at 6/5 courtesy of Gamebookers to sneak it and qualify.
Both teams work extremely hard and give little away so it should be a tight contest. A win by a solitary goal for Morten Olsen’s troops at 13/5 (William Hill) therefore catches the eye and more ambitious punters can tackle either William Hill’s 8/1 for Denmark to finish on the right side of a 2-1 scoreline or Victor Chandler’s 5/2 for Dennis Rommedahl to find the net.