Group C Preview – Greeks Looking Good
World Cup 2014
I expect a strong World Cup from this Greek side which may surprise some readers…
2004 European Champions Greece are joined in Group C by 1992 African Champions Ivory Coast, four-time Asian Cup champions Japan and 2001 Copa America winners Colombia for what is probably the weakest group of four teams at Brazil 2014.
Japan qualified as comfortable AFC Group B winners ahead of Australia, with 17 points and just one defeat – away to Jordan – from their eight games played. AC Milan forward Keisuke Honda was the top scorer in qualification with five goals.
Ivory Coast came through the complicated African qualification process with a minimum amount of fuss. After topping the CAF second round Group C with four wins and two draws from their six matches, they then impressively saw off Senegal by a 4-2 aggregate scoreline.
Having been drawn in tricky groups at the 2006 and 2010 World Cups and underachieved in recent African Nations Cup tournaments, this favourable draw is now seen as The Elephants’ big opportunity to perform on the big stage.
Colombia also have an opportunity to put past disappointments behind them with a run to the latter stages of this tournament. Since arriving at USA ’94 as one of the tournament favourites but then failing to reach the knockout stages under the immense pressure of drug cartels and other extracurricular influences back home, the South Americans had faded into the background of international football; until now.
Sixteen years on from their last finals appearance, having qualified as runners-up in CONEMBOL qualification, Jose Pekerman’s side are lively outsiders here.
And finally, Greece make up the quartet after seeing off Romania 4-2 in a two-legged play-off. Fernadno Santos’ men only narrowly missed out – by goal difference – on automatic qualification behind Bosnia & Herzegovina and arrive in Brazil with genuine optimism of progressing passed the group stages of a World Cup for the first time.
Group C Winner
Colombia are a strong outfit and could go far in this tournament, but there’s no value in backing them to top what could be an extremely tight group at odds of 4/5. Ivory Coast could be dangerous, particularly if Yaya Toure can have as much impact on games as he has for Manchester City this season, and they look a good bet at odds of 10/3.
But don’t be surprised if a solid Greece outfit upset the odds and qualify for the last 16 by topping the group at an outstanding price of 9/1.
Group C Qualification
By the same token, Greece look very good value to finish in one of the top two spots at odds of 12/5, while I also think there is value in backing Japan to finish bottom of the group at odds of 2/1.
Alberto Zaccheroni’s side have struggled defensively against world-class opposition and lost all three of their games at last summer’s Confederations Cup against Brazil, Italy and Mexico.