World Cup Previews: Holland and Italy Open Campaigns, Japan and Cameroon Square Off

13 June 2010

Dutch national soccer team players Arjen Robben (L) and Mark van Bommel (R), during the training ssession in the Amsterdam Arena in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 04 June 2010. EPA/PAUL VREEKER (from ZumaPress.com)
The World Cup on Monday sees Group E opens up as Holland v Denmark and Japan v Cameroon play as well as Italy's Group F opener as Italy and Paraguay square off.

Sunday saw Jeff Hash go 2 wins, 1 loss, 0 no result. His record now stands at 5 wins, 2 losses, and 1 no result. Johnathan Starling swept his picks Sunday, moving my record to 6 wins, 1 loss, and 1 no result.

Note: If we're using the handicap line, we will include what the spread is. If it spread is 0, a draw will mean no result. If we use the Over/Under line, just add the total number of goals scored in a match. Please note that this will all be based on the scoreline at Full Time (90 minutes). For betting purposes, only the result after 90 minutes are counted. Our odds are courtesy of Centsports.

7:30 am on ESPN: Holland v Denmark
Jeff Hash
: How do you solve a problem like the Netherlands?  Yes, Arjen Robben is out right now.  With the depth of this team, I don't think it matters much in the group stage.  Their buildup has shown they can score in buckets, and perfection in qualifying (not to mention 19 straight internationals without a loss) suggests confidence is high.  Denmark too is suffering injury issues with their best goal scoring threat in Nicklas Bendtner and defender Simon Kjaer.   Denmark is very organized, and that will help later, but not now. The Netherlands has flown as under the radar as such a nation can, but they will shine in this one.  My pick is the Netherlands minus a goal at -120.
Johnathan Starling: I agree with every word that Jeff has just said. The only thing that worries about this match is the fact Denmark always does well in the group stages in World Cups they have participated in. However, Denmark right now just doesn't have anyone that screams out to me as someone who can score goals. Much like Germany v Australia today, something tells me this game is going to be won by at least a two goal margin. So the only question to me is if I place the same bet as Jeff, or bet the over in this match of 2.5 goals. Since I don't want to test the goals scored theory just yet, I will place the same bet as Jeff. I'll take Holland -1 at -120.

10:00 on ESPN: Japan v Cameroon
Jeff Hash
: Oh boy. I'm going to be brutal straight off the top: there is nothing to like about Japan at this cup.  After a fairly bland run in February's East Asian Championship, the Samurai Blue have lost to four teams who all made the World Cup (while being outscored 9-1) and followed that with a draw against Zimbabwe.  However, Cameroon has been a bit tepid too in the buildup, with a quarterfinal dismissal in the African Cup of Nations and no wins in the five friendlies since.  So, what does this add up to?  90 minutes of brutality.  Cameroon is the more likely to win, but pretty much no matter what, there's no goals to be had here.  My pick is the under 2.5 goals at -185.
Johnathan Starling: I simply just don't get any of the love out there for Japan. Yes, Cameroon hasn't exactly been coming up trumps either of late, but I think Ghana winning the first game on African soil really lifted some of the weight I think was starting to build on the players shoulders. I think this opener will be the game Samuel Eto'o shines. It's highly tempting to put this game on Cameroon on the 0 line here, but I think this game is going to end up a 1-0 or 2-0 victory for Cameroon. My official prediction is Cameroon on the outright win at +105. I'd highly recommend parlaying my prediction with Jeff's if you can.

2:30 on ESPN: Italy v Paraguay
Jeff Hash
: There's no denying this: Paraguay knows how to throw up the wall in front of goal.  The team got through the 18 games of South American qualifying by only allowing 16 goals.  They also only lost one in five during the buildup to South Africa.  There's also no denying this: if everybody is right, Italy is progressing from this tournament straight to a retirement home.  The Azzurri has only played three games so far this year: they drew one, lost two, and only scored two goals.  That leaves me with the question of if Paraguay can score. I believe they can, and I believe they will.  This won't be jumping full speed into a major upset, but it'll be close.  My pick for this match is Paraguay on the 0 at +165.
Johnathan Starling: I agree with Jeff on Paraguay building the brick and mortar line in front of net. I completely disagree with him on his assessment of Italy. Yes, their buildup to the competition was dire, but that is simply their status quo. Whenever the World Cup comes around, they simply get results. With Paraguay losing their best goal scoring threat to a Mexico City shooting back in January, I'm going with history and tradition, and picking Italy to win outright on Even money.

So what do you think of the games to be played on Monday? Let us know in the comments below.

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Johnathan Starling, the self proclaimed 'most brutally honest man on the net, dishes out his own unique brand of opinions, and analysis on the Premier League, Bundesliga, and all things US Soccer.

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