2014 World Cup Group C Picks and Betting Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 1/27/2014
Group C is not a group that is going to get a lot of media attention compared to many because it lacks a superstar squad, and the winner of the tournament all but certainly isn’t coming from among this collection of teams. What it lacks in glamour, though, it makes up for in competitiveness. Colombia and Ivory Coast are better than Japan and Greece, but the gap is small, and you can easily make an argument for any of the teams to find their way into the elimination rounds. The gap between the best team and the worst is perhaps the smallest of the tournament.
Group C at a glance
Best team: Colombia. They are a very physical, imposing squad, and they have the advantage of playing close to home. They are far from a lock to advance, but they are the deserving favorites. They would have been a much more comfortable favorite without some horrible luck, though. Falcao, their electric striker and best player, tore his ACL in January and won’t be available for the tournament. Futures odds have not shifted yet despite the injury, but they certainly could as the tournament nears and public action heats up.
Worst team: Greece. They probably get the nod, but not by a wide margin. They have some nice talent, more depth than in recent years, and they clearly have had the ability to rise to the occasion in big tournaments in the past. They are no pushover.
Best game: Colombia and Ivory Coast play in the second game for both teams. These are the two teams that should be advancing, but a loss here could be very costly for either team if the competition is as tight as it potentially could be. The styles are very different, but the talent is plentiful, and it could be a good game.
Predicted order of finish: This is tough. Ivory Coast has never advanced from round robin, but that will change here. I think they can win this group. I’m going to take a flyer and pick Japan to finish second and take the second spot in the round robin. That leaves Colombia third and Greece fourth. I have far less confidence in those picks than I do in at least five other groups, though.
Team-by-team breakdown (odds to win Group C and tournament from Sportsbook.ag)
Colombia (+2000 to win the tournament, -150 to win Group C): When you think of Colombia in the World Cup, you can’t avoid thinking of their tragic run in 1994. Entering the tournament as one of the favorites, they faltered badly and did not advance out of the round-robin round. Tragically, after scoring an own goal that was blamed for a loss against the Americans, Andres Escobar was murdered upon his return home. Colombia again struggled in 1998, and they haven’t made the field since. They have an excellent group of forwards, though they will certainly miss the electrifying Falcao. It’s behind the forwards that the issues emerge. This is a team that just tries to outscore opponents. They have lots of talent and an explosive offense, but I struggle to trust them — especially at this price to win the group.
Greece (+25000, +1000): Greece will always be remembered for winning Euro 2004. That was quite probably the most shocking result in a major international tournament — or a minor one, for that matter. It came from absolutely nowhere, and they haven’t come close to replicating it — though a quarterfinal appearance in Euro 2012 was impressive. Konstantinos Mitroglou is a very explosive striker who is going to be relied upon heavily to lead this team. If he can have a big tournament then things could get interesting. They also have a very good backline, led by the awkwardly-named Sokratis Papastathopoulos.
Ivory Coast (+15000, +350): This team has never advanced beyond group play, though since they are only in their third appearance it’s hardly a concerning trend at this point. This team lacks real depth, but their top end is very impressive. Didier Drogba is getting older, but he is still dangerous. Toure is a very impressive player — perhaps the best in the group. Those two have the responsibility to carry this team. I like their chances of being able to do so. They have talent almost to match the Colombians, and they do not have to deal with the pressure of playing close to home.
Japan (+14000, +425): Unlike the rest of this group, Japan has real struggles up front. That could be a problem because the other three teams in this group are going to be able to score early and often. As much as they struggle there, though, they are deep and talented from the midfield back. While others in this group play a free and risky style of play, Japan is rigidly disciplined and very technical. If they can stick to their game then they have a chance to make it through. I like their chances.
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