Colombia and Greece will be hoping to draw first blood when they open Group C’s World Cup account at the Estadio Maneirao in Belo Horizante on Saturday evening.
Drawn in arguably the most open and difficult to predict of the eight sections, Group C involves four teams with no shared FIFA World Cup history whatsoever.
What can be guaranteed from this group is an intriguing inter-continental clash of styles. Colombia’s South American flair will come out against a Greece side that typifies their own regions’ traditional strengths.
Falcao’s side is the group’s seeds and will be favourites to advance even in the Monaco man’s absence, while Japan come into the tournament as Asian champions.
A win will be crucial for both of these two teams as they will still have to come up against Africa’s giants, Côte d’Ivoire, who are desperate to bury their demons of failing to exit the group phases in two consecutive editions of the tournament.
Starting XI Colombia: Ospina, Zapata, Yepes, Sanchez, Armero, Aguilar, Gutierrez, Rodriguez, Cuadrado, Ibarbo, Zuniga
Starting XI Greece: Karnezis, Maniatis, Manolas, Samaras, Kone, Salpingidis, Torosidis, Gekas, Sokratis, Cholevas, Katsouranis