Teams: Colombia, Greece, Japan, Ivory Coast
Schedule of Matches
14 June 2014
Colombia v Greece, Estadio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte, 17:00 (BBC)
15 June 2014
Ivory Coast v Japan, Arena Pernambuco, Recife, 02:00 (ITV)
19 June 2014
Colombia v Ivory Coast, Estadio Nacional, Brasilia, 17:00 (BBC)
19 June 2014
Japan v Greece, Arena das Dunas, Natal, 23:00 (BBC)
24 June 2014
Japan v Colombia, Arena Pantanal, Cuiaba, 21:00 (BBC)
24 June 2014
Greece v Ivory Coast, Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza, 21:00 (BBC)
Coach: Jose Pekerman.
Captain: Mario Yepes.
Colombia currently holds a FIFA Ranking of 8th .They have won their last 9 games of the 16 games.Colombia will be proud after making it to the tournament after 16 years their last appearance was in 1998.The strengths of the Colombian team lies in the attacking formation of 4-4-2 or 4-2-2. However it could be a disadvantage in the counter attacking scenarios. The key players would be Jackson Martinez and Carlos Bacca, both forwards. Also the other players to look out for would be the midfielders Juan Cuadrado and James Rodriguez.
Although Greece has a fifa ranking of 12th ,the team lacks the midfield and the attack to challenge the other teams.Their hope lies on key players like Kostas Mitroglou who scored 23 goals for Olympiakos. Their defense is the greatest strength and teams would find it difficult to get pass the likes of Manolas, Holebas.
Captain: Makoto Hasebe
Japan,the Asian champion looks a strong team despite being 47th on the Fifa Ranking.Japan could be a dark horse as they drew with Netherlands lately and won against Belgium.The key players to look out would be the two mid fielders Keisuke Honda and Manchester United’s Shinji Kagawa and also the 28 year old striker Shinji Okazaki who has been in top form at Mainz.Japan has been playing the 3-4-3 formation adding a touch of caution.
Ivory Coast are placed in a relatively easy group as compared to the last 2 previous WC outings in 2006 (grouped with Argentina and Netherlands) and 2010 (grouped with Brazil and Portugal).The onus lies on key strikers like Didier Drogba, Ex- Arsenal player Gervinho as well as the Midfielder Yaya Toure who has been in great form for Manchester city. It will be interesting to see how the new coach Sabri Lamouchi who has never led a team to the WC
Ivory Coast looks the strongest in the group with a good formidable lineup. Colombia could be the dark horse in the group with good strikers. Japan has a good team and as they were the first team to qualify for the WC, would be interesting to see them. Greece looks the weakest in the group.
– Meet Chhagani [Meet is a sports analyst for the Football Galaxy at Sportz Cosmos. You can reach him at the gmail id: sportzcosmos]