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Nic Ladds 19th Jun 2010 - 10:22

The Kiwis fighting a fruitless battle

Even with several shocks already this World Cup and a few freak results, it is hard to see anything other than a comprehensive victory for the defending champions Italy as they take on world number 78 New Zealand.

Italy (1/6) did struggle against Paraguay in their first match, battling back from a goal down to secure a 1-1 draw. The side is admittedly aging and looked devoid of ideas in the final third but they still have more than enough quality to beat one of the lowest ranked countries in the tournament.

New Zealand (16/1) earned their first ever World Cup point in their opening match with a 93rd minute header from centre back Winston Reid against Slovakia. That should be their last though as their matches get a lot tougher now.

Italy will be without their first choice keeper in Gianluigi Buffon because of a herniated disc suffered in the first match. They do still have a wealth of talent in their ranks though and if they can approach the match in the right way then they should demolish such a weak opposition.

Their problem seems to be creating real chances where the ball can end up in the back of the net. With Gilardino and Iaquinta up top, they certainly have the quality to score but they do seem to struggle sometimes. Neither of the strikers managed a shot on goal in the whole match against Paraguay which is worrying for the Italians.

New Zealand might not be as nervous as you would think going in to the match. The only time they have faced Italy in the past was just over a year ago when Italy just edged it 4-3 and The Kiwi's led three times in the match. However unlikely a repeat of that result, the 125/1 certainly looks good!

New Zealand could struggle to keep out The Azzurri once again. Historically they concede an average of 3.25 goals in World Cup finals matches which means the over 3 goals market (11/5) could be covered by Italy alone.

Italy's best player for me in the opening match was Daniele de Rossi, not only for his goal but he bossed the game from the middle and really is among some of the best midfielders in the world for me. If you think he can score again then the 11/4 looks good on him scoring one at any time.

There are some pretty impressive prices available on New Zealand scorers if you think they can possibly breach the Italian defence. Middlesbrough striker Chris Killen bagged a brace in the 4-3 defeat to Italy last year and he is a massive 20/1 to score first or 7/1 anytime.

The handicaps have to be the way to go to get any sort of value on Italy. I would look at the -2 and -3 goals at 21/10 and 11/2 respectively to ensure a decent return on a big Italy win.

If you want a bigger price, but obviously more risk, I like the look of the 3-0 scoreline at 5/1. I can't really see New Zealand breaking down Italy at the back and although I am still wary of a lack of cutting edge from Italy, I think any team with real ambitions of winning the World Cup should easily stick a few past such a weak opposition.



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