There is no word as yet as to whether star striker Radamel Falcao will be named in the squad. He is recovering from surgery on his knee so even if he does make the squad there’s no way he’ll be 100%.
I’ve backed the Colombians to win the tournament at some fancy prices so I was particularly gutted to see Falcao get injured but they are still a useful outfit even without Falcao.
Colombia won nine, drew three and lost four in qualifying to finish second behind Argentina and above Chile, Ecuador and Uruguay. They had the best defence in the group, conceding 13 in the 16 matches.
The Colombians have not qualified for a World Cup since 1998 when they exited at the group stage. The furthest they’ve gone is the last 16 in 1990.
Ivory Coast won their qualifying group, winning four and drawing the other two of their six matches. They did not make it past the group stage of the last two World Cups, winning one game in each.
This is the last chance for World Cup glory for many of the older players in the squad including captain, Didier Drogba, Kolo Toure and Didier Zokora but they also have a number of players in their absolute prime like Yaya Toure, Cheick Tiote, Gervinho and Wilfried Bony so with that much talent in the squad it would be crazy not give them a lot of respect.
Japan won their final group in the convoluted qualifying format of the Asian Football Confederation. They won five of their eight games and lost just one, scoring 16 times and conceding 5.
Japan have qualified for the last five World Cups making it out of the group stages in 2002 and 2010.
Japan are managed by Italian, Alberto Zaccheroni, who has managed a host of top clubs in Serie A including both Milan clubs.
I’ve been very impressed by Japan when i’ve seen them play over the last couple of years and they’ve beaten Belgium and drawn with Holland recently. They’ve won six, drawn one and lost three of their last ten matches.
They’ll be well organised and energetic and with Shinji Kagawa and Keisuke Honda they have two players capable of turning a match.
Greece were forced into a play-off by way of an inferior (+24 to +8) goal difference to group winners Bosnia. They beat Romania 4-2 on aggregate over the two legged play-off to make the finals, the third time they’ve done so. In 1994 they lost all three of their group matches while in 2010 they won one and lost the other two. They made the quarter finals of the 2012 European Championships, which they won in 2004.
Twelve of Greece’s last 15 matches have gone under 2.5 goals so expect them to be solid defensively but struggle to find the net themselves.
Colombia are rightly favourites to win the group but the value could lie with the Japanese at $5.50 with