SBI World Cup Preview: Group C

JamesRodriguezColombia1-Serbia2013 (Getty)

By DAN KARELL

The FIFA World Cup brings nations from all over the world together during the tournament and no group represents this better than Group C.

Four nations from four different continents have been placed together in one of the most open groups the World Cup has ever seen. Even more, all four teams play a distinctly different style.

Colombia plays a short-passing game with strong support from its wingers. Greece plays a slow, methodical, plodding game with emphasis on set pieces. The Ivory Coast uses strength and speed to overpower teams in midfield and in the box, specializing on counter-attacks, while Japan plays a fast, fluid style with one-and-two-touch passing through the middle of the field.

Los Cafeteros, led by wily veteran head coach Jose Pekerman, are the favorites to win the group thanks to three games in the southeast of Brazil and an outstanding qualifying campaign. The Ivory Coast is at the tail end of its “golden generation” and it’s up to Didier Drogba and brothers Yaya and Kolo Toure to live up to expectations.

Most Americans may not know as much about Japan or Greece because of their lack of players in English-speaking leagues but neither nation can be counted out in this tournament. Both teams will play to their strengths to create interesting matches all throughout the group stage.

Here’s a closer look at Group C:

WORLD CUP GROUP C

SCHEDULE

6/14 – Colombia vs. Greece; 6/14 – Ivory Coast vs. Japan; 6/19 – Colombia vs. Ivory Coast; 6/19 – Japan vs. Greece; 6/24 – Japan vs. Colombia; 6/24 – Greece vs. Ivory Coast.

TOP PLAYERS TO WATCH

Colombia: James Rodriguez, Carlos Bacca, Fredy Guarin, Abel Aguilar

Greece: Giorgos Samaras, Kostas Mitroglou, Giorgos Karagounis, Sokratis Papastathopoulos

Ivory Coast: Didier Drogba, Yaya Toure, Gervinho, Wilfried Bony

Japan: Shinji Kagawa, Yasuhito Endō, Keisuke Honda, Shinji Okazaki

YOUNG PLAYERS TO WATCH

Colombia: Eder Alvarez Balanta

Greece: Panagiotis Tachtsidis

Ivory Coast: Serge Aurier

Japan: Hotaru Yamaguchi

SBI’s PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH

1. Colombia. Even without heart and soul of the team Radamel Falcao, Colombia is just too strong not to finish top of the group.

2. Japan. The Blue Samurai finished top of World Cup qualifying and play a beautiful attacking style, all while staying strong at the back.

3. Ivory Coast. Though it has plenty of talent on paper, the Ivory Coast will come out just short again, ending Didier Drogba’s World Cup dreams.

4. Greece. Greece is always sound defensively but a lack of scoring will hurt its chances in Brazil.

If there was one position that Colombia could have afforded to lose a starter, it’s their forwards. Colombia has plenty of talented players to step up in the wake of Radamel Falcao’s injury including Carlos Bacca, Victor Ibarbo, and Jackson Martinez. The question for them will be defensively, with 38-year-old Mario Yepes starting for them and losing his pace quickly. Japan, Ivory Coast, and Greece could all stake a claim for a place in the knockout stages but the SBI staff feel Japan is best suited to the heat of the Brazilian northeast after experiencing it in person last year at the Confederations Cup. The Ivory Coast has plenty of goal-scorers and could make things interesting against the smaller Japan but this could be the end of the road for Didier Drogba’s international career. Greece shocked everyone in Euro 2004 by winning the competition but isn’t expected to repeat those results 10 years later.

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How do you see Group C shaking out? Do you think Colombia has the talent to top the group? Can Ivory Coast live up to expectations? Do you think Greece and Japan have a realistic shot of winning the group?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in Featured, FIFA World Cup, International Soccer, World Cup 2014. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to SBI World Cup Preview: Group C

  1. Bradley's Missing Mop says:

    I agree with Colombia and Japan, but I still wonder if Greece can play spoiler. If they show up fit and ready to defend for their lives….they might not concede 2 goals in the group stage. Question is if they will score when needed.

    • Increase says:

      Ya, I’m not sure about Japan… they are as soft as Greece is tough to beat.

      If I had to pick though them for sure. I just don’t think the Ivory Cost can do it. They just lack the togetherness to do so and always have.

  2. soccerhorn says:

    Samaras had a cakewalk of a season at Celtic. Can’t imagine he’ll be in form for international play.

  3. RK says:

    Ivory Coast then Japan with Colombia’s aging defense killing them.

  4. slowleftarm says:

    Don’t care what happens in this group as long as Greece goes out so that I don’t have to watch more than three games involving Greece, the most boring team on the face of the Earth.

  5. Ted Tran says:

    Can’t see Japan going through when they can’t even beat one of the worst Mexico is recent times.

  6. Bird says:

    Japan’s best players during the warm-up matches were Yamaguchi, Kagawa, and Nagatomo. Watch for Nagatomo creating from the LB spot, he is fast and technical. Other than that watch for Osako and Kakitani. They are 2 young strikers that both broke into the starting line-up this year for Japan. Osako moved to 1860 Munich and scored 6 goals with 3 or 4 assists in 15 games. He is tall and physical. Kakitani was projected to make a move to a big European club during the winter window, however Diego Forlan signed with his team, Cerezo Osaka and he decided to stay and learn from Forlan. He scored 24 goals last season. This year domestically he has 1 goal but he has another 5 in Champions League. He is a dangerous player. Last thing to note here, and its very interesting, many people think Honda is coming off throat surgery and has looked HORRIBLE in the warm up matches. He has said himself he was only at about 65-70% fitness. Honda has a scar and stitches on his throat about where his thyroid is, but no one will talk to reporters about it. Honda just says, “oh it’s nothing, everything is ok.” very strange. But when you watch him play its very obvious something is not quite right. The Japanese captain Hasebe was injured about 5 or 6 months ago. He is on the roster but again no one is saying if will be available or how close he is to playing again.

    Their defense is very leaky. Uchida the right back is good at attacking but not a great defender. Nagatomo the LB is ok. Yoshida and Morishige are the CB’s and Morishige just won the spot in the last send off match, he has looked solid. Yoshida is good, but is similar to Omar for the US, he makes one or two serious mental mistakes per match so people are nervous about him. The GK is very solid.