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Paraguay vs New Zealand – Santa Cruz and co target last 16

| 23.06.2010

New Zealand still have a faint hope of reaching the last 16, but their fairytale run looks like coming to an end when they face Paraguay on Thursday at 3pm.

Pre-tournament predictions unanimously expected Italy to win Group F, but Paraguay have been the group’s best side by a distance and they are a hugely convincing 1/7 finish top of the class.

Whereas Italy struggled to an embarrassing 1-1 draw with New Zealand, the South Americans should make no such mistakes against the All Whites. A Paraguay win is 2/5.

New Zealand have claimed two very credible draws from their first two matches, and a third stalemate is priced at 7/2.

New Zealand captain Ryan Nelsen was outstanding in defence against Italy, but the Blackburn centre-back will have to contend with strikers of a higher calibre when he faces Paraguay.

The attacking triumvirate of Roque Santa Cruz, Lucas Barrios and Nelson Valdez impressed against Slovakia, and they will pose New Zealand’s defenders with real difficulties.

Paraguay also have Oscar Cardozo at their disposal, and the Benfica striker who performed so impressively during last season’s Europa League is 5/1 to score first.

New Zealand’s best hope of a goal will be their aerial threat. Rory Fallon, Chris Killen and Shane Smeltz are all physically imposing strikers, and Smeltz, who gave New Zealand a shock lead against Italy, is 10/1 to open the scoring against Paraguay.

Having kept two clean sheets in their last three games, however, Paraguay will be confident of repelling New Zealand’s attacks.

With a solid defence coupled with an attack warming up nicely – one goal against Italy, two against Slovakia and perhaps three or more against New Zealand – Paraguay could be worth backing to win 2-0 at 5/1 or 3-0 at 8/1.

Disagree? Can New Zealand cause another major upset? They are 7/1 to beat Paraguay and qualify for the last 16. See the full Paraguay vs New Zealand market.

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Author

Robbie Morris

Robbie studied sports journalism at the University of Gloucestershire, an establishment chosen for its proximity to Cheltenham racecourse, where he was a season ticket holder. Upon graduation, Robbie was a contributor to GolfPunk, a national magazine aimed at ridding golf of its traditionalist image, before joining the news.ladbrokes team.