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Number of World Cup appearances: 8
Best World Cup finish: (As Yugoslavia) Fourth place (1962)
Slovenia makes just their second World Cup appearance as an independent country after the breakup of former Yugoslavia, having debuted in 2002.
As the runners-up in Group Three of in European qualifying behind Slovakia but ahead of favored Czech Republic, Slovenia then went on to provide perhaps the shocker of qualification by knocking out heavily-favored Russia in a play-off to decide one of the last teams in the field.
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One of the stingier efforts defensively in all of World Cup qualifying, Slovenia allowed only four goals in 10 matches and kept Russia at bay to the tune of only one goal in their home-and-home November playoff series.
The depth of European football leaves Slovenia as a relatively unknown squad entering this summer, but if this side can conjure up more success like what we witnessed against Russia to gain entry into the World Cup, then Group C might be far deeper than just England and the United States.
2010 Slovenia World Cup Odds
Slovenia is currently listed at 200/1 futures odds to win the World Cup.
They are 12/1 to win Group C.
Key Player To Watch
Milivoje Novakovic will be one of the offensive threats Slovenia calls upon in South Africa. The 6-foot-4 striker tallies his goals domestically for FC Cologne in the Germany Bundesliga. Strong and tall, this forward seems to find himself in the best of situations on the pitch and is very confident in attack. When the ball is on his foot he can always be counted on to hold position and pushing forward is something he knows how to do all too well. Novakovic is definitely a prized possession at the hands of the Slovenians.
Best Team Asset
The confidence Slovenia built for themselves after shocking Russia can go a long way for this small football nation. And they can also look for inspiration from finishing ahead of World Cup regulars Czech Republic and Poland. The results are there to boost moral and this side has every bit the reasons to feel like further success can be found this summer.
Key Team Weakness
How will Slovenia fare against teams employing different styles? It is one thing to constantly be tested against similar style European teams like Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland and other Eastern European nations, but when facing a United States or an Algeria, will the outcome be different? That is the test come June for Slovenia, as it will be interesting to see how they play when facing teams from different continents that they haven’t faced before.
Slovenia World Cup Predictions
While they enter as a darling of sorts after their underdog victory over Russia, against the likes of England and the U.S. they won’t be pegged any better than third in the group. Knowing the results they put forward to get here, Slovenia is surely capable of more upsets. But when the group stage plays out, they will be left on the outside looking in.
Key First Round Match (best betting opportunity)
Slovenia will be favored in their first group play match June 13 v. Algeria, but the odds will still have them in the +110 range or so, and that is worth a look. Both sides will be looking to play the role of spoiler against the English and Americans, but I would give the edge to Slovenia and their track record in qualifying.
Slovenia World Cup Group Play Schedule
v. Algeria, June 13, 2010 – 7:30 a.m. ET at Peter Mokaba (Polokwane)
v. United States, June 18, 2010 – 10 a.m. ETat Ellis Park (Johannesburg)
v. England, June 23, 2010 – 10 a.m. ET at Nelson Mandela Bay (Port Elizabeth)
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