World Cup 2014 – Group C: Match Previews

13 Jun

Well, day 2 of the World Cup was rather exciting, no? Hopefully, day 3 will bring more of the same.

Colombia vs. Greece – June 14th 12pm EDT

All of Colombia is very excited to be back in the World Cup for the first time in 16 years. And by all of Colombia, I mean ALL. Colombia’s largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, have pledged their support and hope that the return to the World Cup will help advance peace talks taking place in Cuba for more than 18 months.

Ah the power of football.

Remember, this is the country that also dressed sheep up in football kits and had them play football.

Anyways, ranked 8th in the world by FIFA, Colombia qualified by earning 30 points in 16 games, coming in a close second to Argentina. The team was dealt a blow when striker Radamel Falcao (pictured above left) was cut from the squad for failing to recover from a knee injury obtained during the French Cup in January of this year.

Hope is not lost though. Colombia still has plenty of attacking options. Jackson Martinez scored 29 goals for Porto this year and has been the top scorer in Primeira Liga for two consecutive years. And he looks pretty badass while listening to the anthem.


Also keep an eye on Falcao’s Monaco teammate, James Rodriguez. And not just because he is pretty.


While this mid-fielder is still only 22, James created more chances during qualifying than any other player in South America. He also had the most assists in Ligue 1 this past season.

Colombia’s defense, however, is a concern. Their best defender, Luis Perea has been ruled out due to injury, while another defender, Juan Zuniga is playing through his own injuries.


Greece is back for their second consecutive World Cup, after defeating Romania 4-2 in the qualifying playoffs. This will be the Piratiko’s (translation: Pirate ship) third World Cup ever. Ranked 12th in the world by FIFA, they have yet to make it past the group stage, but did score their first World Cup goal and victory in 2010.

The Greek defense is formidable. They conceded the fewest goals (4) of any team in European qualifying. Unfortunately, they are not as good at scoring goals as they are at defending. They will be relying heavily on Kostas Mitroglou. He scored 16 goals for Olympiakos before transferring to Fulham in January. Since then he has struggled with injuries.


So, Colombia can score, and Greece can defend. DRAW your own conclusion.

I’m sorry I couldn’t help myself.

Cote d’Ivoire vs. Japan – June 14th 9pm EDT

Cote d’Ivoire, nicknamed Les Elephants, will be playing in their third consecutive World Cup. Like Greece, they have never made it past the group stage, but also they’ve also drawn the “Group of Death” in the last two tournaments – Argentina and the Netherlands in 2006 and Brazil and Portugal in 2010. They finished third in their group both times.

Les Elephants, ranked 23rd in the world by FIFA, qualified for this World Cup without losing a match (record 5-0-3) and hope to continue that form throughout the Group Stage. There are some concerns since Yaya Toure, who scored 20 goals for Manchester City this season, is struggling to get fit after surgery last month. Even without Toure, their attack includes the likes of Gervinho (AS Roma), Didier Drogba (Galatasaray) and Salomon Kalou (Lille), so they are still rather strong.

At 36, this is likely Drogba’s last World Cup and, potentially, international competition. Expect him to have an impact. He is a beautiful player to watch, unless he is playing against your team. He clearly means business.

The Japanese National team, ranked 46th in the world by FIFA, was very excited to fly to Brazil, but not in a Pokemon plane – sadly that was proven to be a hoax (see above). This is the Blue Samurai’s fifth consecutive World Cup appearance. In 2010, they made it past the group stage for the first time. They were then knocked out of the round of 16 by Turkey.

Like the past two tournaments, once again, Japan, was the first nation to qualify for the World Cup. In last year’s Confederations Cup, they showed defensive weakness late in matches, which appear to have been addressed in recent friendlies. They are hopeful that key player Keisuke Honda will show his strength when he returns to the central attacking role for the Blue Samurai. He has looked a bit lost since joining AC Milan, where he has been used on the right wing. And I won’t even get started on Shinji Kagawa’s poor form for Manchester United this past season for ForzaSusan’s sake.

And, yes, I know we’re all upset that the Pokemon plane was a hoax, but at least Pikachu is still their official team mascot.

How this match goes, truly depends on which version of the players shows up.

Expect my match reports on Sunday, as I will be at the pub, watching the matches with Lozil, ForzaSusan and Mandi tomorrow.

-Dr. P

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