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Posted by ESPN Stats & Information
Slovakia versus Paraguay, Sunday
Free State Stadium -- Bloemfontein
• This game is a virtual must-win for Slovakia, as it plays Italy next, while Paraguay faces New Zealand. A win for Paraguay puts it in a strong position to advance.
• Vladimir Weiss criticism: While his son made a big impression in his World Cup debut, the father was widely criticized in the Slovakia media for his substitutions at the end of the New Zealand game. Instead of bringing in players to pack his defense, he took off strikers and replaced them with like players.
• Justo Villar: Paraguay's captain joined the cavalcade of goalkeeper goats against Italy. He misplayed the cross that led to Italy's goal. He will need to shake off that gaffe.
• First meeting.
What to look for
• Roque Santa Cruz and Oscar Cardozo health: Injuries saw both strikers start on the bench against Italy. They both made second-half appearances but would be a big boost if they are healthy for this game.
• Paraguay seemed to miss the stricken Salvador Cabanas against Italy. Coach Gerardo Martino has indicated that he will switch to three strikers.
• Stanislav Sestak led Slovakia in goal-scoring during qualifying and he scored the first goal in four of the six matches he played. But Sestak had by far the fewest touches of any of Slovakia's starters in the draw with New Zealand (27).
From the research room
• Paraguay created the fewest scoring chances of any team from the first group of games, with just two.
• Paraguay was the only team to defeat Brazil by a margin of two goals during qualification, posting a 2-0 victory at Asuncion two years ago. Ten of Paraguay's 11 starters from that match are on the World Cup team. The exception is Cabanas, who scored one of the goals against Brazil.
• Paraguay advanced from group play in 1998 and 2002 but had the misfortune of facing one of the eventual finalists in the round of 16 both years, losing to France in 1998 and Germany in 2002, both by a score of 1-0.