Colombia v Greece Preview

Group C | Saturday 14 June | Estadio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte | 18:00




Colombia and Greece get things started in Group C which includes Ivory Coast and Japan and looks one of the most open groups. Colombia are the ranked team in the group occupying fifth spot on the Fifa rankings and take on the 10th ranked Europeans who are known for their defensive solidity.

To Win (90mins)
Colombia 2/11
Draw 53/10
Greece 14/1

COLOMBIA

Under Argentine coach Pekerman, Colombia has blossomed, rising from 35th place in the world rankings to the top five and their first World Cup in 16 years.

The Coffee Growers are one of the dark horses in this year’s World Cup. They have never managed more than one win at a World Cup and will be hoping this could be the year all that changes.

Colombian fans were rocked by the news that star striker Radamel Falcao will miss the World Cup after showing promise of returning from injury.

Falcao, who suffered a serious knee injury when on duty for his club side Monaco in January, was left off the 23-man list, with Pekerman deciding he will not be match fit.

However, the team is still littered with star players from around Europe, such as Napoli full backs Juan Zuniga and Pablo Armero, Inter Milan midfielder Fredy Guarin, wide men Juan Cuadrado and James Rodriguez, and striker Jackson Martinez.

With plenty of technique and athleticism, Colombia can be a match for anyone on their day - even without their key player at the tournament.

They possess a strong defence that makes them a formidable opponent. They managed to finish second out of nine teams in South American qualifying, just two points behind heavyweights Argentina.

Colombia scored 27 goals in 16 matches while conceding just 13, the lowest total on the continent. En-route to qualifying their best results was a 4-0 rout of Uruguay.

James Rodriguez is a key creator for Colombia and before moving to Monaco played at Porto and enjoyed a fantastic partnership with Jackson Martinez.

Martinez is a big forward who can physically overpower almost any defender. At Porto, Martinez has proven himself to be dominant in the box, scoring 41 times in 53 league games since arriving in 2012.

Colombia’s 4-2-2-2 system takes advantage of Colombia’s talented wide players, like Fiorentina’s Juan Cuadrado.

GREECE

In the four years since the World Cup in South Africa, little appears to have changed in how Greece  win games.

They have kept their instinct for a decisive late goal, have added few famous names to their squad, and boast a solid defence that has kept the country impossibly in the top 10 of the world rankings.

It's those ingredients that helped Greece win the 2004 European Championship and made the team a regular at major tournaments since - a rare success story in a country struck by financial crisis that battered everything from public health to achievement in most other sports.

Defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos says the Greeks' hardship motivates his teammates to play harder. "We've always had a great atmosphere in the team," the Borussia Dortmund players said.

"Everyone's proud to be playing for Greece and the prospect of reaching the second round would bring joy to people who are going through hard times."

Papastathopoulos will act as the lynchpin in the Greece defence against some very potent Colombian attackers.

The fact that he was the youngest ever captain of AEK Athens at 19 is a testament to his leadership abilities and at his best, he is a commanding and inspirational presence in a side that will probably need all the inspiration they can get if they have aspirations of collecting three points here.

Greece qualified for the World Cup by way of the play-offs, eliminating Romania over two legs, but only missed direct qualification on goal difference to Bosnia and Herzegovina after eight wins in 10 matches.

Although the attacking flair is there, it’s the defence that Greece relies on. That’s how they got to the World Cup having only conceded four goals in 10 matches.

It was the only way to make up for their mediocre attacking efforts that brought 10 goals while Bosnia, who finished first, scored 30.

Betting PredictionCOLOMBIA 2/11
Playing on their home continent Colombia will have a slight advantage. They can match the work rate and physical game of Greece and have a more potent attack. Colombia look likely to claim the win. 

Written by Wayde Dorkin for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now! 

Bet on this match now at Hollywoodbets.net! Haven’t got an account? Open one here now!