Oranje and Azzurri open without stars

[PREDICTIONS] The Netherlands and defending champion Italy, two pre-tournament favorites, will both be without key players for their first game. For more on Monday's three games and Soccer America's predictions ...

NETHERLANDS (0-0-0) vs. DENMARK (0-0-0)
June 14  in Johannesburg (Soccer City)
Kickoff: 7:30 a.m. ET. Television: ESPN/Univision.
Referee: Stephane Lannoy (France).

Paul Kennedy: Netherlands 3-0
Ridge Mahoney: Tie 1-1
Mike Woitalla: Netherlands 2-1

It's the Netherlands, representing the Lowlands, against Denmark, representing Scandinavia, in the first all-European match at the World Cup. Dutch star Arjen Robben has flown in from the Netherlands to join his teammates, but he has already been ruled out of the opener.

CAMEROON (0-0-0) vs. JAPAN (0-0-0)
June 14 in Bloemfontein
Kickoff: 10 a.m. ET. Television: ESPN/Univision.
Referee: Olegario Benquerenca (Portugal).
Paul Kennedy: Cameroon 2-0
Ridge Mahoney: Cameroon 2-0
Mike Woitalla: Cameroon 3-0

Both Cameroon and Japan struggled in the buildup to the World Cup and have had their share of controversy. Indomitable Lions star Samuel Eto'o threatened to quit in response to criticism from former star Roger Milla. Japan coach Takeshi Okada offered to hand in his resignation after Japan fell to archrival South Korea last month.

ITALY (0-0-0) vs. PARAGUAY (0-0-0)
June 14 in Cape Town
Kickoff: 2:30 p.m. ET. Television: ESPN/Univision.
Referee: Benito Archundia (Mexico).
Past World Cup Meetings: 1950 -- Italy 2-0.

Paul Kennedy: Tie 0-0
Ridge Mahoney: Tie 1-1
Mike Woitalla: Tie 1-1

This is a different Italy team from the one that won the 2006 World Cup. No Francesco Totti. No Luca Toni. Andrea Pirlo is in South Africa but he's out with a calf injury and will likely be replaced by Fiorentina's Riccardo Montolivo. The playmaker will likely be Juventus midfielder Claudio Marchisio.

1 comment about "Oranje and Azzurri open without stars".
  1. Bertrand Hamilton, June 13, 2010 at 9:23 p.m.

    The Netherlands will rock: 3:0

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