Sunday 13 June – WC Day 3
There are some mouthwatering matches on Sunday with our first chance to see two of England’s Group C opponents, before two of the Three Lions oldest sporting foes go head to head….
Slovenia v Algeria
Any Slovenian fan who watched Algeria’s catastrophic 3-0 defeat to lowly Malawi at the African Cup of Nations would have marked this down as the easiest three points the central European minnows would ever earn in international football. The Desert Foxes were simply awful that day and their narrow elimination of eventual Cup of Nations winners Egypt to qualify for South Africa looked like a terrible travesty.
Even though Algeria recovered to reach the semi-finals in Angola, their performances left much to be desired. They score just one goal in the group stages before eventually reaching the semi-finals where they had three men sent off in a bad-tempered 4-0 defeat to Egypt.
The Algerian’s main problem is that most of their squad play very few games for their club. Playmaker Karim Ziani played just 5 matches for Wolfsburg last season whilst their entire strikeforce scored just 14 club goals last season between them. Coach Rabah Saadane has also axed his captain, Yazid Mansouri, citing the 32 year olds’ poor form.
Slovenia, however, have a tight knit, settled squad and team. The only real surprise in their World Cup party was the inclusion of youngster Tim Matavz after a promising season with FC Groningen and Matjaz Kek has an experienced squad of hard-working professionals.
I actually fancy Slovenia to be one of the surprise packages of 2010 and the 10/1 on them being eliminated at the quarter-final stage looks an interesting long-shot. All is not well in the Algeria camp and the 5/4 on a Slovenia win is very tempting.
Serbia v Ghana
Ghana were one of the more impressive sides at the African Cup of Nations earlier this year and many people felt the Black Stars were Africa’s best hope of reaching the later stages of the tournament. However, the loss of Michael Essien to injury cannot be overstated and Milovan Rajevac’s side will do well to emulate their last 16 performance in 2006.
What you will guarantee with Ghana is goals. They haven’t been involved in a 0-0 draw in 29 competitive matches and so the 11/8 about 3 or more goals is good value. Their defence is suspect, even though they have two hard working central midfielders in Steven Appiah and Derek Boateng protecting the back four. A youthful strike force also has potential with Asamoah Gyan likely to lead the line with NAC Breda striker Matthew Amoah in reserve.
Serbia are many people’s dark horse for the tournament and feature a number of high profile stars from top European sides. Nemanja Vidic, Danko Lazovic, Nikola Zigic, Branislav Ivanovic and Dejan Stankovic have plenty of Champions League experience and they boast a highly experienced coach in ex-Luton player Raddy Antic.
However, Serbia’s recent form has been indifferent, and they also arrived at the World Cup in 2006 as many people’s tip, before being losing all three group matches. This is a tough one to call – bet on goals and, perhaps, a narrow Serbia triumph at 6/5.
Germany v Australia
Two of England’s oldest foes – and possible last 16 opponents – meet in Durban in an intriguing tie. Germany field a younger side than they have done for many years, although will still be replying on the experienced Miroslav Klose to provide the goals. Youngster Mesut Ozil could be a World Cup revelation as might Bayern Munich forward Thomas Muller, also expected to start in an attacking line-up.
Australia will once again be solid and organised, but the Socceroos may have problems finding goals to add to their graft. With Harry Kewell playing as their main striker, the midfield are going to have to chip in with goals and the likely absence of Tim Cahill for this game could cost Pim Verbeek’s side dearly.
Germany to win to nil at 13/10 looks like decent value. And, with 10 of Australia’s last 19 competitive matches being goalless at half time, the 9/5 on offer on this match being 0-0 at the interval looks like a decent bet. The draw/Germany on the half time/full time market at 3/1 also looks good value.