[PREDICTIONS] Brazil faces Ivory Coast Sunday in one of the most-anticipated matches of the first round of the World Cup. For a look at Sunday's three games and Soccer America's predictions ...
SLOVAKIA (1 pt., 1-1) vs. PARAGUAY (1 pt. 1-1)
June 20 in Bloemfontein
Kickoff: 7:30 a.m. ET. Television: ESPN/Univision.
Referee: Eddy Maillet (Seychelles).
Paul Kennedy: Tie 0-0
Ridge Mahoney: Paraguay 2-0
Mike Woitalla: Paraguay 1-0
THE LOWDOWN: With a final match against Italy to follow, Slovakia faces a must-win situation against Paraguay after conceding a last-minute goal that cost Slovakia a win over lowly New Zealand. "The atmosphere after the first match wasn't very good," said Slovakia coach Vladimir Weiss. "It was quite sad, I must say, because a goal in the very last second is a small sporting tragedy. But we have dealt with it over the past few days and now we are ready for Paraguay."
ITALY (1 pt., 1-1) vs. NEW ZEALAND (1 pt., 1-1)
June 20 in Nelspruit
Kickoff: 10 a.m. ET. Television: ESPN/Univision.
Referee: Carlos Batres (Guatemala).
Paul Kennedy: Italy 2-0
Ridge Mahoney: Italy 2-1
Mike Woitalla: Italy 2-0
THE LOWDOWN: Goalie Gianluigi Buffon definitely is out of Sunday's match and could miss the rest of the World Cup with a herniated disc. Federico Marchetti, who came on at halftime of the Paraguay game, is expected to get the start in goal against New Zealand.
BRAZIL (3 pts., 2-1) vs. IVORY COAST (1 pt., 0-0)
June 20 in Johannesburg (Soccer City)
Kickoff: 2:30 p.m. ET. Television: ABC/Univision.
Referee: Stephane Lannoy (France).
Paul Kennedy: Tie 1-1
Ridge Mahoney: Tie 2-2
Mike Woitalla: Brazil 1-0
THE LOWDOWN: Say what you want about Brazil's play, it still wins. Brazil's 2-1 victory over North Korea extended its winning streak to six games. It has won 17 of its last 18 games, its only defeat coming to Bolivia in a meaningless World Cup qualifier. Ivory Coast coach Sven-Goran Eriksson hasn't decided whether to start injured Didier Drogba. The Chelsea star, who has a broken arm, came on late in the Elephants' 0-0 tie with Portugal.