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World Cup Finals 2014
Match of the Day Live: Colombia v Greece
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Late last night, Chile delivered on their pre-tournament build-up with a thrilling attacking display, interspersed with periods where nobody knew what they were doing and minnows Australia almost sneaked a draw. Something similar might be on the cards here, as Colombia kick off a World Cup campaign that, for their fans, is seen as holding more promise of glory than any in recent memory.
The Colombians are without star striker Radamel Falcao, but he's one of those odd players: if you've got him you have to play him and you have to build the team around him, yet without him - he hasn't recovered from an injury sustained in January - the side becomes more cohesive. They'll play an attacking 4-4-2 or 4-2-2-2 (ie the wingers stay almost as high up as the forwards), with the full-backs bombing on and only the centre midfield staying at home. Jackson Martinez, Carlos Bacca and Teofilo Gutierrez are all capable of shouldering Falcao's goalscoring burden.
Apart from injuries making the first 11 slightly unfamiliar, ageing centre-backs are Colombia's obvious weakness although again, the absence of veteran Luis Perea means they're not as old as they might have been - and in any case, the one team in the competition who won't exploit that flaw are Greece.
Greece will always be associated with their amazing win at Euro 2004, perhaps the greatest coup in international football history. Since then, they've produced ever weaker photocopies of that side. They're still well organised at the back, they're still most likely to score from a set piece and, surprisingly, two of the 2004 midfield might play today: Kostas Katsouranis and Giorgios Karagounis. Neither of them will ever have to pay for a drink in an Athens bar, but it's worrying that they haven't been replaced.
Up front is Konstas Mitroglou, who was rather mysteriously signed by a desperate Fulham this January and then didn't play. Here's a ringing endorsement from Greece coach Fernando Santos: "He seemed OK and I took him. I would like to have seen more players." Don't bet on a Greek goalfest - but a lot of that Class of 2004 stubborness is still there.
Colombia v Greece (Kick-off 5.00pm). Coverage of the opening World Cup match for both teams, as Group C commences with this clash at the Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Greece are making just their third appearance at a World Cup finals, and they will be looking to progress beyond the group stage for the first time having failed to do so at both the 1994 and 2010 tournaments. Their record in qualifying was exceptional, winning eight and drawing one of their 10 fixtures, but they still had to settle for second place behind Bosnia-Herzegovina by virtue of an inferior goal difference, and so had to come through a two-legged play-off against Romania to book their place in Brazil. Colombia also qualified in good fashion, finishing second in the CONMEBOL region to Argentina, and ahead of Chile, Ecuador and Uruguay. While their home form was a major factor during that campaign, they did manage to claim four victories on the road, as well as a valuable draw away to the Argentinians, although they are without star striker Radamel Falcao due to injury. Presented by Gary Lineker, with commentary by Simon Brotherton and Kevin Kilbane.
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