World Cup Preview and Best Bets – Groups C & D
We’re back for Part two of our World Cup preview. We’ve got one more average group and a second group of death! Here’s a look at Groups C and D.
Columbia enter this World Cup with luck both good and bad. Good luck brought them one of the weakest groups out there. Bad luck cost them their best player, Radamel Falcao, but there’s still enough quality to this team to get them through with an experienced defense and the likes of James Rodriguez pulling the strings for guys Teófilo Gutiérrez on offense. Ivory Coast has been talented enough for some time to perform well in major tournaments, but they always seem to choke when it matters. Is this their year to finally qualify for the knockout stage? Kolo Touré is as good a box-to-box midfielder as exists and will look to lead the team along with the now 36-year-old Didier Drogba.
Greece has struggled since winning the Euros back in 2008. They’re another country that hasn’t found enough young talent to keep previous momentum. Their style is to keep things ugly with low scoring defensive games and hope that Giorgos Karagounis, Konstantinos Mitroglou, and Georgios Samaras can steal a goal in a 1-0 victory. They just don’t seem talented enough to do so this year. Finally Japan is the kind of squad that may struggle with the size of Ivory Coast, but they’re generally capable of putting up a fight with enough attacking flare. They’ve got attacking players in some of the world’s major leagues like Keisuke Honda, Shinji Kagawa, Shinji Okazaki. Grabbing the second spot in the group is certainly in Ivory Coast’s favor, but Greece and Japan will challenge them.
Colombia to win Group C (-105) – The competition just isn’t stiff.
Ivory Coast vs. Japan: Over 2.5 Goals (+145) – Neither of these countries specialize in defense.
Colombia over Greece (-140) – This isn’t the 2008 European Champions playing Colombia. Well maybe it is if you look at the roster, but it is now six years later.
Although maybe not as intense as Group B, Group D is no joke either. Uruguay is the reigning Copa America winner and was a semifinalist in the last World Cup. Italy generally has success in major tournaments with their defensive structure. And while England loves going home by losing on penalties, the youth in this year’s squad gives their fan hope in a, dare I say, underdog role in the group. While all three nations have a chance to win the group, Italy’s style and talent leaves them the best chance to advance from the group. While rumors circulate that Mario Balotelli might not start, Italy still boasts one of the best goalies in the tournament in Gianluigi Buffon, a strong defense featuring Giorgio Chiellini, a midfield orchestrated by Andrea Pirlo, and an attack from Ciro Immobile.
Uruguay has been very successful in recent major tournaments, but they come into this tournament with a few question marks. Luis Suarez had a procedure on his knee recently and must prove his health on the field regardless of any declarations made through the press. Diego Forlan, one of the darlings of the country’s 2010 run, is now 3 and his best days are behind him. Defense wasn’t necessarily one of the Club’s strong suits to begin with so any issues on offense would hurt them badly. England features youth for once in the name of Daniel Sturridge, Adam Lallana, Ross Barkley, and Raheem Sterling, but the question remains as to how much manager Roy Hodgson plays them. The older generation has failed for England, so they’d be best served giving the young guns a shot with Rooney, Gerrard, and company. Lastly, Costa Rica has no shot to advance given the company in the group, so the question is more centered around how many points they can nick off their opponents. It’s nice that Costa Rica was able to make it this time around, but we can ignore them as the clear fourth wheel here.
England & Italy to advance from Group D (+200) – Putting my money where my mouth is. Pays better than Uruguay elimination in group stage because of the small Costa Rica factor.
England eliminated in the quarterfinal (+350) – It was nice while it lasted, but either Brazil or Spain will crush them.