Colombia v Greece – Greek Gods Of Triumph
Colombia V Greece
Highly fancied to progress from the group, Colombia take on a no-nonsense Greek side with aspirations of upsetting the apple-cart. I take a look at the sides.
Colombia arrive in Brazil following a 3-0 win over Jordan and a 2-2 draw with Senegal. Rocked by the news that striker Radamel Falcao will not make the World Cup following a knee injury sustained playing for Monaco in January, they can at least take some encouragement from the five goals scored in two games. Although the calibre of opposition means that they shouldn’t get overly enthused.
José Pékerman’s side qualified as impressive second-place finishers – just two points behind Argentina – from the South America CONEMBOL qualifying group. Falcao’s goals – he scored nine of Colombia’s 27 – will be missed, but they can boast the tightest defence – just 13 goals conceded in 16 games – of all the South American sides.
Greece, meanwhile, qualified for the World Cup with one of the meanest defences in Europe. Only Spain, who played two games fewer, conceded fewer goals than the four – from 10 games – Greece let in during qualification. The Greeks’ Euro 2004 success was built upon a rigid backline – they conceded only four goals and won their three knockout stage matches 1-0 – and it looks as though any success here will need to derive from a similar framework.
While they conceded only four in qualification, they scored just 12 at a measly average of 1.2 goals per game. Preparations for this summer’s tournament have been typically astute with a total of just one goal conceded and two scored in three games against Portugal (0-0), Nigeria (0-0) and Bolivia (2-1).
Falcao’s injury is the most high-profile, but the absence of Leao Ramirez, Edwin Valencia and Luis Amaranto Perea will also hit Los Cafeteros hard. A lot of responsibility now rests on the shoulders of Monaco midfielder James Rodriguez who has admitted that the squad have been unsettled by the injuries to four key players.
Greece’s star man and most potent goal threat is Fulham flop Kostas Mitroglou. He scored three of Greece’s four goals in the play-off win over Romania and will lead the line here.
Head to Head
The only time that these two sides have met previously came way back in 1994 as Colombia prepared to go to USA ’94 as one of the tournament favourites. The South Americans won 2-0 before a horrific World Cup campaign, both on and off the pitch.
With a fully fit squad I’d have picked out Colombia as one of my dark horses for the World Cup. But without Falcao and others they do look vulnerable and could begin their campaign on the back foot here.
Greece represent value in the Match Odds market at a price of 17/4, but we should exercise some caution given this is the opening game of the campaign and go with Greece at odds of 9/4 in the Draw No Bet market.
With two tight defences on show and Colombia missing the Falcao spark goals are likely to be at a premium. Under 1.5 goals is a good bet at odds of 6/4 and a familiar 1-0 win for the Greeks is available to back at odds of 8/1.