2014 FIFA World Cup – Group C
Thursday, June 12 – Sunday, July 13, 2014
Host Nation: Brazil
Defending Champion: Spain
All odds courtesy of Bookmaker
Group C in the 2014 World Cup might be the most wide open of the 8 groups. Colombia is a significant favorite to win the group, but Greece, Ivory Coast and Japan are all talented teams. The two teams that advance will likely come down to goal differential.
Let’s take a look at the teams in Group C with their odds to win the group and the World Cup courtesy of Bookmaker.
Colombia (-110 group, +3050 Cup)
Colombia is making their fifth trip to the World Cup and first since 1998. Colombia has never made it past the round of 16, and has only gotten out of the group stage once. That could change this year, as Colombia has a very talented team that is currently #8 in the FIFA World Rankngs.
That led Colombia to be one of the eight seeded teams in the 2014 World Cup in nearby Brazil. Colombia finished with 30 points in CONMEBOL qualifying, two points behind Argentina for second in the rugged South American final group. It was impressive even though powerhouse Brazil did not have to qualify as the host. Colombia outscored their opponents in qualifying 27-13.
Colombia is coached by Jose Pekerman who took over the national team in January 2012. He coached Argentina to a berth in the quarterfinals at the 2006 World Cup. Colombia had been pegged before the tournament with the potential to make a deep run. Those chances took a serious hit when star striker Radamel Falcao tore his ACL in January and will miss the World Cup. Still Colombia has a ton of talent including midfielders James Rodriguez and Fredy Guarin, plus defenseman Mario Yepes. Keeper David Ospina is very good and was instrumental in Colombia being so stingy on defense during qualifying.
Colombia opens with Greece, then plays Ivory Coast and Japan. Each will present their challenges but Colombia should top the group and advance to the knockout round. It gets a little dicey after that though as potential round of 16 opponents include Uruguay, Italy and England. I think a quarterfinal berth would exceed expectations for Colombia.
Ivory Coast (+325 group, +1415 Cup field)
Ivory Coast (or Cote D’Ivoire as it is officially known) is making their third straight and overall appearance in the World Cup. They didn’t make it out of the group stage in 2006 or 2010. They finished third both times, behind such powers as Argentina, Netherlands, Brazil and Portugal. This is the most favorable draw Ivory Coast has ever had in their three trips to the World Cup. Ivory Coast is #23 in the FIFA rankings.
Ivory Coast won their qualifying group by 5 points. They won 4 games out of the 6 played and had two draws to Morocco as the only blemishes. Ivory Coast then played Senegal in the two leg playoff to qualify for Brazil. Ivory Coast won the first leg 3-1, but were down 1-0 in the second leg. One more Senegal goal would have given them the away goal differential and a spot in the Cup. However, Solomon Kalou scratched out a tie for Ivory Coast with his stoppage time goal that sent Ivory Coast into the World Cup.
Sabri Lamouchi took over as coach for Ivory Coast in May of 2012. It was the first managerial job on any level for the 42 year former French midfielder. Didier Drogba is the most well known player for Ivory Coast, but he is 36 years old. The Toure brothers, midfielder Yaya and defenseman Kolo are also key contributors. Zolou, Didier Zokora, Gervinho, and Emmanuel Eboue are all very good as well. Boubacar Barry is the keeper.
Ivory Coast, Japan and Greece will likely fight for the second spot behind Colombia. All three are pretty much evenly matched. Ivory Coast plays Japan, then Colombia, and finally Greece in the group stage. Even if Ivory Coast survives the group I don’t think they can beat any of the tough group D teams in the round of 16.
Japan (+405 group, +1415 Cup field)
Japan has widely been considered the best football team in Asia but they look to impress the rest of the world. Japan is making their fifth straight trip to the World Cup. They have made it to the round of 16 twice in five appearances including against Paraguay in 2010 where Japan lost in penalties.
Japan became the first team to qualify for the 2014 World Cup after host nation Brazil. Japan qualified back in June of 2013 by winning their group in the Asian Football Confederation with 17 points. Japan scored 15 goals and only conceded 5 in qualifying.
Alberto Zaccheroni has been Japan’s coach since 2010. However, after a disappointing Confederations’ Cup last year in Brazil, Zeccheroni could be in trouble if Japan doesn’t make a deep run in the World Cup. Midfielder Shinji Kagawa keys the offense along with midfielder Keisuke Honda. Forward Shinji Okazaki is also a dangerous scorer. Eiji Kawashima will mind the nets for Japan.
Japan is a veteran talented team and could surprise some teams. Japan opens with Ivory Coast before playing Greece and closing with Colombia. I don’t see Japan getting past the round of 16.
Greece (+705 group, +1415 Cup field)
Greece is currently #12 in the FIFA rankings. Greece is making their third overall and second straight appearance in the World Cup. They have never made it out of the group stage. They did beat Nigeria 2-1 in 2010, but losses to Argentina and South Korea knocked them out of the tournament.
Greece finished tied with Bosnia-Herzegovina with 25 points for the top spot in their UEFA qualifying group. However, Bosnia won the group on goal differential. Greece had to play Romania in a two leg playoff and won 4-2 on aggregate. Greece outscored their opponents 12-4 in qualifying. Five of Greece’s eight qualifying wins ended with 1-0 scores.
Fernando Santos is the coach of Greece and has been the coach since just after the 2010 World Cup. Midfielder Georgios Karagounis is 36 and has been part of the national team since 1999. Forward Kostas Mitroglou scored three goals against Romania in the two games, which was a pleasant surprise for the normally offensively challenged Greeks. Goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis is only 28, but played in every qualifying game. He must play well because Greece relies on their defense heavily.
Look if you can’t get enough of 0-0 or 1-0 games, Greece is your team. Greece is one of the best defensive teams in the tournament but if they get down early they simply can’t score enough to comeback. The four goal explosion against Romania was an anomaly. It will be a surprise if Greece can even win a game agianst the other three teams in this group who all have potent offenses.
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