(SportingAlert.com) — The 2014 World Cup really got rolling on Friday with a full schedule and the action will continue on Saturday with four more games.
Following the Group A and Group B fixtures, including The Netherlands stunning defending champions Spain 5-1 in a rematch of the 2010 final, teams in Group C and Group D will get their campaigns underway Saturday.
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Colombia vs. Greece
Colombia has been in good form coming into the World Cup and the South Americans are delighted to make a return tournament for the first time since 1998. They will start as the favourites to win the group, despite the absence of leading striker Radamel Falcao, who did not recovery in time from surgery to make the squad.
Colombia is preparing for a Greece side looking to stifle their opponents with their strong defensive style at the Estadio Mineraio in Belo Horizonte.
“We are a competitive team that respects every rival,” Colombia coach Jose Pekerman said. “We know we need to be at our best.
“My team heads into this World Cup aware of the challenge but wanting to have a starring role and to go as far possible.
“We are delighted to be here, proud that Colombia returns to play at a World Cup after so long.”
Greece, the 2004 European Championships has made several trips to the World Cup, but never advanced from the group stage.
“Our main goal is to make it to the knockout round, something we have never done before,” said Greece captain Giorgos Karagounis. “In order to do this, we have to take each game as it comes.
“The most important game for us is against Colombia. This is our first game and they are a dangerous team.”
Ivory Coast vs. Japan
The last game Saturday night could be the most entertaining, as both sides play free-wheeling, up-tempo styles that leads to a lot of chances and goals.
Ivory Coast is the top-ranked team in Africa, and The Elephants, lead by Didier Drogba and company, can score in bunches. It is still to be seen though if Manchester City box-to-box midfielder Yaya Toure will be fit to feature.
Japan, which lost 2-0 to Ivory Coast in a friendly in 2010, will be looking to Shinji Kagawa, Keisuke Honda and Shinji Okazaki to lead the team.
Uruguay vs. Costa Rica
Uruguay is one of the most powerful sides in the sport and have one of the world’s top players in Luis Suarez, though he’s expected to start this one on the bench.
Uruguay is the overwhelming favourite to beat Costa Rica, which also lost to Uruguay in World Cup 2010.
Costa Rica is one of the biggest longshots in the tournament, but performed well in CONCACAF qualifying and could be a tricky out. Arsenal forward Joel Campbell has been picked by many to be one of the bright sparks at the tournament and Costa Rica is hoping the youngster will live up to the billing.
England vs. Italy
Two of the sport’s premier blue bloods will face off in a match with major implications, as neither side wants to come out of this match without a point, especially with Uruguay looming in the group.
Weather could be a factor, as a tropical storm has dumped heavy rain on Manaus, the Amazon city where the match will be played.
How that impacts players such as Wayne Rooney and Andrea Pirlo remains to be seen, but fans are bracing for a very tactical game. The pundits believe England’s youngster, including Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling and Adam Lallana, will link up well with Wayne Rooney in the attack and keep Italy’s defense on the back foot constantly.
At the same time, Juventus playmaker Andrea Pirlo is the leader in the middle for Italy and if he gets going, then the veteran midfield could bring the best out of the entire team.