Pre-game: Italy vs. Paraguay
Day 4, Match 3
Italy vs. Paraguay, Group F
Green Point Stadium, Cape Town
Live on CBC and CBCSports.ca (2:00 pm ET). Consult CBC's full broadcast schedule.
Watch the Rogers Pre-game show 30 minutes before kick-off as our panel of soccer experts provide up-to-the-minute news from South Africa on this match.
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What's at stake
After a sloppy qualifying campaign, Italy is expected to cruise through this group, but Paraguay will likely be the holders' toughest test in Group F. If the Azzurri drop points here, the media pressure will mount.
Injuries and suspensions
Midfielder Andrea Pirlo is nursing an injury and will likely not play against Paraguay. Winger Mauro Camoranesi is questionable with an injury.
Player to watch for Italy
Gianluigi Buffon — Arguably the greatest keeper of his generation, the 2006 World Cup hero will again be Italy's ultra-reliable last line of defence. And he's hungry for better fortune: a disappointing Juventus campaign this season saw him miss two months due to injury.
Player to watch for Paraguay
Roque Santa Cruz — The lanky striker is a clinical finisher with explosive pace and is Paraguay's major threat up front. He needs to be in form now more than ever with top forward Salvador Cabanas unable to play, who is undergoing a miraculous recovery after he was shot in the head in January.
Santa Cruz vs. Giorgio Chiellini — Italy will likely carry the possession for most of the match, but with Paraguay opting to move away from its staunch defensive style to more of a counterattack game, bruising centre-back Chiellini must stay mindful and contain Santa Cruz.
"We are nearly all over 30, but qualified for this World Cup with a game to spare. This tournament isn't a league with 50 matches in which your physical condition is crucial. At a World Cup, seven matches is all it takes. That's why we're going for it." — defender Fabio Cannavaro.
"The Italian defence has always been famous around the world, and those two players are very strong, they are champions. But we are strong in attack and I think this is our best quality." — striker Roque Santa Cruz.
World Cup head-to-head
- Games played:1
- Italy: 1 win, 0 losses, 0 draws
- Paraguay: 0 wins, 1 loss, 0 draws
- Goals: Italy 2, Paraguay 0
- Last match: Italy and Paraguay met in the preliminary group stage in 1950, where Riccardo Carapellese and Egisto Pandolfini scored to give the Azzurri a 2-0 win.
- Games played:2
- Italy: 2 wins, 0 losses, 0 draws
- Paraguay: 0 wins, 2 losses, 0 draws
- Goals: Italy 5, Paraguay 1
- Last match: Italy defeated Paraguay 3-1 during a friendly in Parma on April 22, 1998.