Coast to victory

Ben Coley and Matt Brocklebank preview the final two matches in World Cup Group C.

Last Updated: 24/06/14 at 17:08 Post Comment

Ivory Coast: Should be backed to beat Greece

Ivory Coast: Should be backed to beat Greece

Greece v Ivory Coast (Group C, Fortaleza, 2100)

Greece haven't yet scored in the World Cup but could yet reach the next stage of the competition if managing to find the net against the Ivory Coast.

A 0-0 draw with Japan was more like the Greece we've come to know following their 3-0 defeat to Colombia, and it's the more recent of those formlines which looks the most representative.

Ivory Coast meanwhile have played well enough to reach the last-16 in patches, but some shaky defending and periods of slackness across the pitch have cost them. For large parts of their 2-1 defeat to Colombia they offered plenty, but there's just a feeling that they're not quote the some of their parts.

Ivory Coast have been rocked by the death of Ibrahim Toure, younger brother of Kolo and Yaya, in the run-up to this game. The pair have elected to remain in Brazil and Yaya is certainly expected to feature with only victory guaranteed to see the Elephants through.Whether it's good news or not given their troubles in front of goal, striker Kostas Mitroglou looks set to be passed fit for Greece and he probably remains the chief threat ahead of Dimitrios Salpingidis, the pair having led the way in qualifying.

What we have here is a good attack (Ivory Coast) against a good defence and it's a case of what gives. Greece certainly don't look threatening enough to get away with defending poorly here, and the reverse applies to the Ivory Coast.

Ultimately this is a World Cup in which we've seen attack win the day and that looks to be the more likely outcome once again here. In Yaya Toure, Didier Drogba, Gervinho and Wilfried Bony, Ivory Coast have by far the more attacking creativity and with it comes experience of top-flight football across Europe.

If you do fancy Greece a 1-0 win at 10/1 looks the best policy given both their qualification form and scoring troubles, but I'm keen on the Ivory Coast at odds-against.

Verdict: Greece 0 Ivory Coast 2 (BC)

Opta facts:

This will be the first ever meeting between Greece and Ivory Coast.

Greece's previous World Cup games against African opposition were both against Nigeria, losing in 1994 (0-2) and winning in 2010 (2-1).

Greece have failed to score in seven of their eight World Cup games while their clean sheet last time out against Japan was their first ever at a World Cup.

The Ivorians have scored in seven of their eight World Cup games.

Japan v Colombia (Group C, Cuiaba, 2100)

Colombia have already booked their place in the last-16 following Group C wins over Greece and Ivory Coast but there is a chance they could be pipped for top spot if beaten by Japan and that's enough of an incentive to maintain their focus against Alberto Zaccheroni's side.

Despite two highly entertaining victories, Colombia's manager Jose Pekerman is keeping a lid on expectations and will not take anything for granted against Japan, who in his words, "are going to grow in their game and are capable of fighting for qualification."

The final point is an important one when looking at this match for betting angles as Japan can of course still reach the first knockout stage with a win, provided Ivory Coast draw against Greece, or if the Greeks get the three points but do not overhaul Japan's goal difference.

Unless Ivory Coast steamroll Greece in the first half-hour in Fortaleza and effectively shatter any belief the Japan side may have had, then we should be in for another open and exciting encounter.

Japan have thus far based their strategy on trying to keep things tight at the back and hit sides on the break but they've only managed to find the net once and something has to change in what could be their final appearance at Brazil 2014.

If they do opt for a more attacking stance, Colombia are the ideal team to open up a stretched Japan side on the counter and they look a very fair price around the 7/5 mark to maintain a perfect group-stage record.

In James Rodriguez they have a skilful young striker who is visibly growing in confidence by the game and he will be hard to contain in his current mood.

Colombia are solid if unspectacular at the back and although they may not be able to completely shut out Japan, they simply have more quality in the final third.

Both teams to score makes a degree of appeal at 4/5 but I'd rather seek a greater profit by having a couple of correct score bets, with Colombia 3-1 and 3-2 both worth backing at 20/1 and 33/1 respectively.

Verdict: Japan 1 Colombia 3 (MB)

Opta facts:

Juan Cuadrado (3) has now provided more assists at a single World Cup than any other Colombian player since 1966.

James Rodriguez has scored in each of his last four appearances for Colombia.

Japan have scored only one goal in their last three World Cup games.

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