Both Slovenia and USA put in gutsy performances in their first matches and got results owing to goal-keeping errors by the other team. While USA salvaged a point from their 1-1 draw against England, Slovenia find themselves top of Group C with 3 points courtesy their 1-0 win over Algeria. Group C had seemed like the most predictable groups when the World Cup had started with USA and England favourites to advance in to the last-16 but Slovenia had other ideas. They have thrown the group wide open and made this game a must win for USA. A draw for United States would mean going into the final ‘must-win’ game against Algeria trailing Slovenia by 2 points.
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Slovenia go into this game needing to only avoid defeat to leave them well placed to progress to the next round. Their first match win was more due to a self-destructive Algerian side than a great performance. Today, however, Slovenia will play to their strength – defense. They have very good defenders in Marko Suler, Bostjan Cesar, and Bojan Jokic and their defensive record speaks for itself for Slovenia have conceded only 6 goals in 12 qualifying matches. Slovenia will look to sit deep and invite USA in, attacking them on the counter. Slovenia manager Matzaj Kek will, most likely, not make any drastic changes to his starting XI but he might modify his 4-2-3-1 team formation to stop Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey.
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The extra burden of very high expectations will be on USA as they go into their match against Slovenia as favourites, perhaps for the first time, in a World Cup match. Also, USA is a country with the largest population in the World Cup and will play against a country with the smallest. USA’s 1-1 draw against one of the favourites England was a great achievement but it was worth only one point. They fought well against England to salvage a point especially since they had a terrible start conceding a goal in the 4th minute of the game. Today, they will be looking to capitalize on the goal-scoring abilities of Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore and Landon Donovan. USA have a solid defense lead by their top-class goalkeeper Tim Howard. They will be looking to defenders Steven Cherundolo, Jay DeMerit, Carlos Bocanegra to keep out Slovenia’s pacy counter attacks. USA’s giant defender Oguchi Onyewu was very effective in stopping England’s Wayne Rooney and Emile Hesky and will be looking to repeat his impressive performance to deny Slovenia. USA’s Landon Donovan, Michael Bradley, Jose Torres and Clint Dempsey will make up the midfield with Jozy Altidore and Robbie Findley up front.
“We respect the United States, but we do not stand in awe of them. We are not afraid of them.” – Matjaz Kek, Slovenia manager
“The pressure is on us and we must win.” – Bob Bradley, USA manager
Stars to Watch Out For
Slovenia: Robert Koren, Milivoje Novokovic, Valter Birsa
USA: Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, Jozy Altidore
This will be the first ever meeting between Slovenia and USA
USA have kept only one clean sheet in 20 World Cup matches.
Slovenia have won seven of their last eight matches