This might be the weakest group in the entire tournament. Neither of the four teams are particularly awe inspiring, and whichever two teams do make it out of this group will probably lose immediately in the round of 16. Anyway, here are your Group C teams.
National Anthem: Hymn to Liberty
Coach: Fernando Santos
Best Showing at A World Cup: Group stage, 1994 and 2010
Here’s the thing about Greece. They’re not good, and have never been a threat to win a World Cup, only even making the Group Stage in 1994 and 2010. That being said, they’re clearly improving, which is evidenced by them making their second straight World Cup after only having one in their history before that. They snuck into this World Cup by winning a UEFA playoff against Romania, and now they’re going to see what kind of damage they can do.
The Greek style of play involves a lot of defense, as they only allowed 4 goals during the entire qualifying period. Unfortunately, they’re not going to score too many goals either. Expect a lot of grind-out type games, and maybe even a 1-0 win or two in this group. Key man Kostantinos Mitroglou could be responsible for a lot of those 1-0 scores, as he is the best striker this team has had in many, many years. That being said, he had a pretty bad and injury plagued year at Fulham of the EPL after the qualifying period ended. If he gets himself healthy, Greece could sneak out of this group and into the round of 16.
National Anthem: Oh Gloria Inmarcesible
Coach: Jose Pekerman
Best Showing at A World Cup: Round of 16, 1990
OK I will allow all of you exactly 35 seconds to laugh at the name of Colombia’s head coach. Ready? Go…………………………… OK that’s it for the rest of this post. I don’t even want to hear a peep. It’s not the man’s fault that he has a funny name. Anyway, onto Colombia.
The last time, and really the only time, Colombia did anything meaningful in the World Cup, was when they reached the round of 16 in 1990. In 1994, with Pablo Escobar (yes, that Pablo Escobar) practically footing the bill, they were supposed to be real contenders. Instead, they lost to the USA, got bounced in the group stage and then Andres Escobar (no relation) was murdered for an own goal. Fun times!
Anyway, this year’s team looked very good in CONMEBOL qualifying, where they finished second to Argentina because of their great defense (best overall) and timely scoring from their strikers. Unfortunately, Radamel Falcao, who powered this team through the qualifiers with 9 goals in 13 games, tore his ACL in January and is very questionable for the World Cup. If Colombia is going to do any real damage in this tournament, they’re going to need striker Jackson Martinez to step up. Martinez is the current goals leader for the 2013-14 Portuguese league, so he should be able to help. As long as the defense, led by 38-year old captain Mario Yepes, Christian Zapata and veteran Luis Perea, can hold up, they could be a team to reckon with.
National Anthem: ‘L’Abidjanaise’ (Song of Abidjan)
Coach: Sabri Lamouchi
Best Showing at A World Cup: Group stage, 2006 and 2010
The Ivory Coast has never made it out of the Group stage of the World Cup. To be fair, they’ve only qualified for two cups in their history–the last two. This can definitely be viewed as progress. Is this the year they finally get over the hump? Well, I think so, but mostly because this group is pretty terrible. That being said, Ivory Coast finished first in Group C of the African qualifying period and beat Senegal in the mandatory playoff, so they have some legit talent on this squad.
Tops among his countrymen is Didier Drogba, a legend at Chelsea of the EPL (206 caps, 100 goals). Despite being 35 years old, Drogba had a good qualifying period (4 goals) and still looks to be in great shape heading into what should be his last World Cup tournament. He’ll be helped out by midfielder Yaya Toure, who seems to be the team’s best player, and Salomon Kalou, who led them in scoring during the qualifying period (5 goals).
Ivory Coast is strong, and has a ton of individual talent, but they have often struggled to come together as a team. I think the weak group helps them out of the first stage, but they’ll have to really gel together to make it much further than that.
National Anthem: Kimigayo
Coach: Alberto Zaccheroni
Best Showing at A World Cup: Round of 16, 2002 and 2010
Japan is a very technically sound team that never turns the ball over and is likely to win the possession battle most times out on the pitch. This style helped them to a first place finish in the Asian qualifying Group B. Again, with this group, it’s hard to say who will move on because there aren’t really any dominant teams within. Japan could do some damage.
The key for Japan will be if they can generate any offense. They have a good defense, and an effective midfield, but striking hasn’t always come easy for this team. Last World Cup, Keisuke Honda put his scoring cleats on and got this team to the round of 16. This time around he’s got a little help, from Shinji Kagawa and Shinji Okazaki, who have proven their mettle in the German Bundesliga. Those three guys will be the key if Japan is able to make it out of this group.
This one’s up in the air. If you haven’t gotten it from the numerous times I mentioned it in this post, this group is not very good. I think Colombia is moving on no matter what, but the other spot could go to any of the three teams. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Japan puts it all together to finish second in the group and move on. Cameroon is going to have to prove they can play well as a team on the big stage before I pick them to do anything big. I chose Japan over Greece, just basically because…yes. Why not? Colombia and Japan move on.
Featured image courtesy of: Reuters
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