Group C – Colombia vs. Ivory Coast (Brasilia,17:00)
Throughout qualification Colombia fielded a 4-2-2-2 with Radamel Falcao partnering Teo Guttierez up top. With Falcao out injured for the World Cup, the big question was, who would partner Guttierez?
Well instead Colombia manager Jose Pekerman surprised us with a change of shape with Guttierez playing as a lone striker in a 4-2-3-1. The new shape worked perfect in dismantling a very poor Greece side and I see no reason why we won’t see the same set up here against Ivory Coast.
The Ivory Coast also got off to a winning start by coming from behind to beat a Japan outfit who played into the hands of the African side after taking the lead. Japan scored early and dropped deep only for the inexperienced Elephant’s coach Sabri Lamouchi to play a masterstroke by bringing on Didier Drogba to partner Wilfried Bony up front, who took advantage of a deep Japanese line.
Minutes after Drogba’s arrival Ivory Coast were 2-1 up and that is how the game ended.
I can see this being quite the battle, but one which should see plenty of goals, as we have two attacking sides.
Colombia are a fantastic attacking force and if James Rodriguez continues as a number 10, he may be the difference between the sides after he ran the show against Greece.
On the right wing Cuadrado could be one of the players of the tournament and the battle against left back Boka should be one sided. Ivory Coast will be bombing forward as usual and will be looking to push their full backs of Boka and Aurier very high, both could be caught on the break. Expect a few cards in a fast paced tie.
Advised bet – Colombia -0.25 asian hcap – 11/13 BetVictor
Group D – England vs. Uruguay (Sao Paulo,20:00)
Massive game for both sides after defeats in their first games. Uruguay suffered more of a shock against massive outsiders Costa Rica, who annihilated them on the counter and the brilliant Joel Campbell.
England were marginally outclassed by Italy. England will be sour after a thrilling game on Saturday night, the patient experienced possession play of Prandelli’s side overcame the quick and youthful players that Hodgson fielded. The fantastic Darmian and Candreva were the difference down the right on the night.
England will be making sure the combination of Cavani and Suarez are kept quiet on Thursday and this is where Uruguay will feel they have the advantage.
Oscar Tabarez’ troops looked very dangerous from set pieces and the likes of Lugano and Godin could be the match winners for the South American outfit rather than the unfit Luis Suarez who has the pressure of a country to turn their tournament around.
Suarez’s inclusion is likely to see Diego Forlan drop to the bench who failed to link the midfield to Cavani. Uruguay will be furious at how poorly they held on to possession and this is something they will be improving on here. I just cannot see Uruguay playing as poorly as they did against Costa Rica and let’s expect a different sort of team.
England paid for listening to calls from the fans for an attacking side. When you play Sterling, Welbeck, Rooney and Sturridge you are going to play with four up front at times due to their gung ho nature.
This will make you vulnerable in certain areas and England suffered down Leighton Baines left side due to the lack of protection. As exciting as Hodgson’s side is, a James Milner may have actually been more effective against Italy.
In a game we must win though, it may be the perfect recipe and I can’t imagine too many changes from Saturday evenings outfit. Uruguay will have to come forward to win the match, which will leave the slow partnership of Godin and Lugano vulnerable which will be music to the ears of Sturridge, Sterling and Welbeck.
Advised bet – England win – 11/10 SkyBet
Group C – Japan vs. Greece (Natal, 23:00)
Another pair of sides who suffered losses in their first matches. Japan showed promise by taking the lead against Ivory Coast but dropped too deep and lost out to Wilfried Bony and Didier Drogba in the aerial battle. Greece on the other hand showed little fight as they were pummelled 3-0 against a rampant Colombia.
Japan are rightly favourites. Going forward they have players who can create problems, particularly Honda and Kagawa. The Asian side also keep possession better than their opposition.
The weakness for this side is defending. Zaccheroni’s side were never going to keep a clean sheet against the Ivory Coast and should have used their possession far more effectively higher up the pitch.
Versus Greece there will be far less threat but the likes of Kagawa and Honda have to equally contribute to defending and attacking if they are to overcome their European opponents and keep their World Cup dream alive.
There is little to be excited about Greece after the first game. For me, they have been the poorest side on show so far after a dreadful 90 minutes against Colombia.
As usual their defending was organised but as you can see by the scoreline something majorly went wrong. Colombia were good, but Greece allowed them too much of the ball as they were unable to keep hold of possession and when Zaccheroni’s men did have it, they did nothing with it and the Colombia defence were rarely troubled.
Unless Greece can find some creativity from somewhere to penetrate defences they risk going home without scoring a goal, let alone gaining a point.
Advised bet – Both teams to score NO – 10/11 Betfair sportsbook