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Number of World Cup appearances: (As Czechoslovakia) 5
Best World Cup finish: (As Czechoslovakia) Runners-up (1934, 1962)
Any past success seen by this nation at the World Cup was as former Czechoslovakia. Now Slovakia has emerged from the shadow of the neighboring Czechs and also bested them in the qualifying group to advance to the Finals via winning UEFA’s Group Three. Czech Republic was left at home in third place and perhaps a new central European country has risen to the top as one to contend with this summer, and also in the future.
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Slovakia doesn’t wow anyone defensively but they boast a very methodical approach and bring a strong team game to the table. Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel is the most known individual but even he isn’t a superstar by any means in world football.
The World Cup has been used to seeing a Czech Republic or Poland emerge as one of Central or Eastern Europe’s teams to find a spot in the Finals. Well, not this year. Slovakia has earned their spot and the relatively unknown status of this football nation could provide for some intrigue during group play.
2010 Slovakia World Cup Odds
Slovakia is currently listed at 200/1 futures odds to win the World Cup.
They are 13/2 to win Group F.
Key Player To Watch
One name to keep watch for is Marek Hamsik, midfielder for Napoli in Italy’s Serie A. At just 5-foot-11 and 161 pounds, the stature of this player isn’t going to have anyone writing home about his game from first sight. But at only 22 years of age he has tallied 28 goals in his first 100 games for club side and has netted eight goals in his first 30 caps for Slovakia. Attack-minded, Hamsik could be a key figure for country this summer.
Best Team Asset
You won’t find this team feeling any better about themselves after finishing first in their World Cup qualifying group. Well, they might top that feeling if Slovakia finds its way into the elimination round. But for now confidence is at the summit and that bodes well for them in a pretty weak overall group.
Key Team Weakness
Having allowed 10 goals in 10 matches as a first place group winner during qualification, that has to raise at least a couple of eyebrows. Now, Slovakia did play in a deep and competitive group, but the defensive efforts will need to be much stronger and their back line must be much tighter to keep the likes of Italy and Paraguay from consistent scoring chances.
Slovakia World Cup Predictions
I would absolutely give Slovakia a really good chance to advance. They are in the right group. Italy is the giant among this foursome, and no one is knocking them from their perch atop this quartet. Slovakia will battle with Paraguay for the other ticket to the round of 16, but as a whole the slight nod goes to the South American country and Slovakia falls just short.
Key First Round Match (best betting opportunity)
I would get on the ‘over’ v New Zealand on June 15 in Slovakia’s opener. The All Whites are best set up to win games 1-0, if they can win at all, because they don’t possess a lot of offense. But Slovakia isn’t a defensive stalwart by any means and if the European side can strike first, look for an open game the rest of the way and for this one to go ‘over’ with three or more goals.
Slovakia World Cup Group Play Schedule
v. New Zealand, June 15, 2010 – 7:30 a.m. ET at Royal Bafokeng (Rustenburg)
v. Paraguay, June 20, 2010 – 7:30 a.m. ET at Free State (Mangaung/Bloemfontein)
v. Italy, June 24, 2010 – 10 a.m. at Ellis Park (Johannesburg)
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