Here's hoping the first two groups' first set of games are an indication of what's in store for the rest of the World Cup. We've had intrigue, refereeing drama, blowouts, close calls and lots of goals. Group C has at least one team that will try to stop the last trend - Greece, everybody knows it's Greece - and some others that haven't exactly made their names as defensive stalwarts or goalless wonders. Here's how the B&RU staff think this group will play out.
This will be the most competitive group. I think in the end, Colombia shows why they were seeded and grabs 1st place. Ivory Coast just misses out on 1st but settles for 2nd and a ticket to the knockout stage.
Colombia looked good even as Falcao was out due to injury, and would have to be an easy favorite to come out of the group. Second looks a little tougher, and frankly Japan does not seem to have the horses, even if this bunch. Based on nothing more than an irrational urge to see Drogba do well in his late romp in International play, I'll go with the Ivory Coast for the other team.
In what is surely the softest group in the tournament, I look for a mild upset. The Colombians won't make it out of the group stage, and Greece will give up very few goals, but score even fewer meaning they won't make it out either. Japan will take the group through smarts and discipline, and a dangerous Ivory Coast (nee Côte d'Ivoire) will be a close second.
A group with no obvious favorites or weaklings? This should be fun. Much has been made of the status of Radamel Falcao for Colombia, but few have noted that they had the best defense in CONMEBOL during qualifying. Los Cafeteros will edge a very tight group. Japan will entertain, but at some point they'll throw points away. Ivory Coast will take advantage and go through when the dust settles. An aging Greek team simply won't have the athleticism to make their defense-first style work; three 1-0 losses are possible for them.
Adam M Taylor
I'm going with my heart and my head for this one: Greece will not make it out of the group, and everybody - everybody - will be happier for it. Look for Colombia to ride their defense and deep forward corps (even sans-Falcao) to first place in the group, while Cote d'Ivoire's Golden Generation performs its traditional letdown routine, allowing Japan to sneak past them into second place and the knockout stages.
This group is as much of a tossup as any in the tournament. How do you see it playing out?