The 2014 World Cup is just days away, in fact we’re just one week away from the first game of the tournament. Over the last few days we’ve previewed the group featuring host Brazil and the other “Group of Death.”
So, it’s only right that we bring things down a notch from the highs of those two groups. Luckily for us all, Group C naturally provides that exact scenario. However, don’t get it twisted — this group is going to be entertaining as all hell in it’s own right. In fact, it could be one of the most up in the air groups of this World Cup.
When you have names like Cristián Zapata, Juan Fernando Quintero, Giorgos Karagounis, Yaya Touré, Keisuke Honda and many others, there are clearly plenty of story lines to be played out despite the lack of World Cup pedigree. It’s just too bad that the biggest name, Radamel Falcao (Columbia), won’t be making an appearance. That would’ve made this group very, very interesting.
So, let’s dive in to what could be the most fun and wide open group of the World Cup.
Group C Teams (32 Flags Pre-Tournament Power Ranking):
Columbia (No. 8), Greece (No. 25), Ivory Coast (No. 20), Japan (No. 18)
Player to Watch in Group C: Keisuke Honda (Japan)
Not only is Honda a superstar in his country, he also happens to ply his trade for internationally renowned club side AC Milan. He also happens to be in the prime of his career (27 years old) and the biggest attacking option on a team desperate to move on after a disappointing 2010 World Cup. The only question is if Honda can shake off a bad start to his time in Italy and be the player he has been for the Blue Samuri (best nickname in the World Cup anyone?) throughout his international career so far.
X-Factor in Group C: Falcao’s absence
Radamel Falcao not being able to get up to full fitness puts a major monkey wrench in to one of the most intriguing sides in this 2014 World Cup. It remains to be seen how missing his creativity and goal scoring affects this team, especially if any other striker were to go down. He would’ve been a highlight of this tournament and considering the flock of fans that are likely to travel from Columbia to Brazil, you can bet the pressure will be on the other attacking options available.
Odds of Winning the World Cup (courtesy VegasInsider.com):
Ivory Coast: 150/1
Most Important Game: Japan vs. Ivory Coast
Getting off to a three-point start in the group would be a massive advantage, especially for Japan who face Greece in the next set of group games. However, for Ivory Coast they don’t want to leave potential qualification for the round of 16 in anyone else’s hands. Given the order of games and the close nature of everyone but Columbia, to the victors the spoils are likely to go.
Teams to Move On: Columbia and Japan
Columbia has one of the shortest travels of any team in the 2014 World Cup, and they have the deadliest attack of any team in this group with Jackson Martinez and Carlos Bacca (50 combined goals this past club season). On the other hand, Japan is one of the more disciplined and organized squads in this group, and if they can answer the questions about an apparent lack of creative options out of the strikers, that squad will advance too.