Globe and Mail sports columnist Cathal Kelly will be covering the World Cup in Brazil. Here is his look at who to watch and what to expect in Group C.
This should have been an early trot for the dark horses of this tournament. Then their best player, Monaco striker Radamel Falcao, was ruled out with injury. Group C is weak, however, and Colombia is still deep enough in attack and strong-minded enough at the back to top it.
There is nothing attractive about the way this team plays. All the allure is in their hard-minded mentality. This side will grind you with tireless defence and long-ball counter-attacks until flakes begin to chip off your hide. A team to admire, if not to love.
There are better players in the world, but none so influential box-to-box as Ivorian Yaya Toure. He’ll need to be. The Africans have declined since 2010, but they’ve also shaken their affinity for being drawn in Groups of Death. Unheralded here, they will finally have a chance to prove their quality in the knockout rounds.
One of those ‘Who the hell knows?’ sides. In recent months, they’ve beaten Belgium, drawn Netherlands and lost to Belarus. A skilled team without much in the way of tough mindedness. They could surprise. More likely, they will go the route they followed in last year’s Confederations Cup – collapse.
Player to Watch: James Rodriguez, Colombia
Often likened to Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo (more, one guesses, by virtue of looks than style of play), Rodriguez is already one of the game’s great distributors, though quietly. If this tournament is to produce a breakout star, it’s probably the nimble Colombian number 10.
Game to Watch: Colombia vs. Ivory Coast, June 19
Tactically, Colombia prefers games played at midday in withering heat. That won’t bother the Ivorians. If it’s hot enough in Brasilia at the 1 p.m. kickoff, this could produce an epic battle of attrition.
Predicted Order of Finish: Colombia, Ivory Coast, Greece, Japan
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