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Paraguay vs. New Zealand starts World Cup schedule Thursday

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AP Photo/Frank Augstein

(Read caption) Netherlands' Arjen Robben, left, and Rafael van der Vaart chat during a team training session at the Green Point stadium in Cape Town, South Africa, on Wednesday. Netherlands plays Cameroon Thursday in Group E at the World Cup.

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Paraguay vs. New Zealand starts the World Cup schedule Thursday, with the South Americans looking likely to beat the Kiwis. Eight teams play today, but only four – two from Group E and two from Group F – can advance to the second round of the 2010 World Cup.

Thursday (June 24):

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  • Paraguay vs. New Zealand, 10 am ET on ESPN2
  • Slovakia vs. Italy, 10 am ET on ESPN
  • Cameroon vs. Netherlands, 2:30 pm ET on ESPN2
  • Denmark vs. Japan, 2:30 pm ET on ESPN

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Three of four matches thus far in Group F have ended in a tie. Only Paraguay has a win, while Italy and New Zealand have tied both of their previous two matches, and only Slovakia has a loss. That means all four teams still have a chance to go on to the second round.

No. 31-ranked Paraguay is expected to top No. 78-ranked New Zealand, according to FIFA's rankings. No. 5-ranked Italy is expected to beat No. 34-ranked Slovakia, and the Italians will need to win unless they want to follow their French neighbors home.

All of Group E's matches, however, have ended in decisive wins. That's put the Netherlands in the clear lead (with 6 points), and Japan and Denmark in second place (each with 3 points, from a win and a loss). That means Cameroon will not advance to the second round, and Netherlands will advance to the second round.

That makes Japan vs. Denmark the match of the afternoon. Whoever wins, advances. If they tie, then Denmark advances (because it has a better goal differential). Check back with the Monitor for the latest World Cup news.

On Wednesday, Australia beat Serbia (2-1), Germany beat Ghana (1-0), United States beat Algeria (1-0), and England beat Slovenia (1-0). See all results at FIFA.com.

Download a PDF of the World Cup schedule from FIFA, and this ESPN fact sheet on its month-long coverage of the World Cup. Live television coverage on ESPN and Univision begins a half-hour before each match.

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IN PICTURES: Top 2010 World Cup controversies and 10 World Cup players to watch

World Cup 101:


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