Colombia v Greece
The group favourites come exploding out of the blocks, forcing the Greeks to change game-plan early. Rodriguez & co then finish off the Europeans
- Colombia (4-4-1-1): Ospina, Zuniga, Zapata, Yepes, Armero (Arias 73′), Sanchez Moreno, Aguilar (Mejia 68′), Rodriguez, Cuadrado, Gutierrez (Martinez 76′), Ibarbo.
Scorers: Armero 5′; Gutierrez 57′; Rodriguez 90+2
- Greece (4-3-3): Karnezis, Manolas, Torosidis, Papastathopoulos, Holebas, Maniatis, Katsouranis, Kone (Karagounis 78′), Salpingidis (Fetfatzidis 56′), Gekas (Mitroglou 63′), Samaras
Colombia went into this match as favourites for the group and they looked to go into it setting the ball rolling. Greece on the other the hand followed on from what they did in qualifying, frustrating teams and grinding out results, this is in sharp contrast to the style held by Colombia. Colombia fit nicely into the stereotype of the east South American team, high energy, direct, quick and high pressure. They do break one norm however, of having poor technical midfielders, with James Rodriguez. The brilliant 22 year old playmaker has been given a free-role in qualifying and it was no different against a dogged Greece.
Both teams started how expected too, with Greece sitting deep and keeping the play simple but slow and Colombia doing the exact opposite. Greece however couldn’t cope with the early pressure and pace by Colombia and Cuadrado, who was excellent through out, put in a delightful low pass in the box on 6 minutes, which was left by Rodriguez and a scuffed shot by Armero crept in at the near post.
This forced Greece to change their game plan and made the game a more exciting spectacle. The rest of the first half saw Greece slowing becoming more adventurous and having a lot of joy down the right hand side, with Samaras squandering some good positions and Kone unlucky with a neat shot outside the box into the top corner. As expected the most dangerous players again for Colombia remained a buzzing Rodriguez, Cuadrado, and surprisingly picked Ibarbo acting as an inside forward coming in from the left hand side, they kept Greece wary.
The second half again saw a similar pattern with Greece slowing growing but Colombia always remaining a threat on the counter, which Greece could not handle. Samaras who was quite in the first half, found his feet and began running at the ageing Colombian back line, acting selfishly at times. Samaras incidentally was at fault for the second goal, for allowing his marker (Aquilar) free from a corner. Abel Aguilar flicked on at the near post, and an unmarked Gutierrez tapped into an empty net from 2 yards. The rest of the game saw Greece squander numerous chances including a very notable one by Gekas, who, facing an empty net, hit the bar from 3 yards out. A goal by Greece would have changed the complexity of the whole match at this point but they, on a frustrating afternoon, could not find the break through. The game was finished off in the dying minutes by a lovely counter-attacking move by Colombia, led by Cuadrado. Running at the Greece defence with conviction and pace, he laid off a skilful back-heel to Rodriguez, who finished by slipping the ball in the far corner.
The result leaves Greece in an all too familiar predicament at the world cup finals, not scoring in all but one game and not placing even one point on the board. It will very a tough ask for them to leave the group stage, although they may be able to at least credit themselves some goals and pride perhaps in the other games if they can maintain their second half performance and carry it on against the Japanese. Colombia in contrast look set to win the group with flying colours. Their most talented players shone today and if they can maintain form, while limiting the mistakes at the other end, it could be a very exciting tournament for Colombia.
Man of the match: James Rodriguez
Uruguay v Costa Rica
- Uruguay (4-4-2): Muslera, Periera, Lugano, Godin, Caceres, Stuani, Arevalo, Gargano (Gonzalez 60′), Rodriguez (Hernandez 76′), Forlan (Lodeiro 60′), Cavani
- Scorers: Cavani 24′ (pen)
- Costa Rica (5-3-2): Navas, Gamboa, Duarte, Gonzalez, Umana, Diaz, Borges, Tejeda (Cubero 75′), Bolanos (Barrantes 89′), Ruiz (Ureña 83′), Campbell
- Scorers: Campbell 54′; Duarte 57′; Ureña 84′
We experienced the first real shock of the tournament as Group D favourites Uruguay were torn apart by an inspired Costa Rican side. The game started off as expected with Uruguay having the majority of the ball and Costa Rica sitting deep with a 5 man defence. The plan for Costa Rica looked to be to just settle for a draw, however as the game unfolded it was apparent that this was not the case.
Uruguay took the lead in the 23′ minute after Cavani dispatched his penalty into the right corner of the net, the penalty came about from Diaz rugby tackling Lugano in the box, a good decision from the officials, one of the few good calls they have made right in this competition so far.
After half-time Uruguay started to become complacent and showed a lack of ideas when attacking, with Cavani and Forlan often looking for a ball over the top of the 5 man defence, instead of coming short and trying to receive the ball between the lines. This lack of creativity accompanied with poor defensive organisation gave Costa Rica a great incentive to push on and attack the Uruguayans.
This is exactly what they did, Costa Rica managed to bag 2 goals in quick succession, with only 3 minutes between the first two. The first was a cross sent in by Gamboa and both centre-backs went for the same ball, with both missing it the ball fell to Arsenal loanee Joel Campbell who smashed home a half-volley from 7 yards out. The 2nd goal really eclipsed Uruguay’s poor defensive display as moments prior to the goal Costa Rica had a free-kick 25 yards from goal and Bolanos put in a cross to the back post where Duarte headed straight at the keeper from 5 yards out, the Uruguay line was too deep and they really should of learnt from this. A matter of minutes later Costa Rica had a free kick in an almost identical position, and the exact same ball was put in and guess what? Duarte got on the end of it and put his side 2-1 up, again the Uruguay line was far too deep and this was a goal purely of their own making.
After this Uruguay tried to push on to equalise but they created nothing, in the end substitute Ureña managed to get on the end of Campbell’s defence splitting pass and coolly slotted it past Muslera and into the empty net. The game turned sour in the dying minutes with fullback Maxi Pereira losing his patience and lashing out at Campbell, earning him a red card meaning he will suspended for the game against England.
This was a worrying display from Uruguay and it begs the question are they actually a good side? Excluding their strike force and as well as Godin they have a team full mediocre players that didn’t seem to gel together. This performance has heavily damaged their hopes of proceeding to the knock outs as they now require wins against England and Italy to stand a chance.
Man of the match: Joel Campbell