Columbia- The obvious point is the absence of goal-scoring machine Radamel Falcao, he will be a BIG miss for Jose Peckerman and his side this summer. However all is not lost on the attacking side of things for the South Americans. Jackson Martinez has been in fine form for Porto this year and will have plenty of support in their attack minded 4-4-2 that they have used during the qualifying. Their defence could be somewhere for other teams to exploit as key player Luis Perea is out in an already shaky defence.
Key Player- James Rodriguez, the dynamic playmaker has primarily played in the number 10 role this year for big spenders Monaco who had to part with £37.5m to prise him away from Porto. Rodriguez can also chip in with a few goals as well as set up, he will be key if Columbia are to go through to the knockouts.
Prediction- 2nd – Quarter Final
Ivory Coast- It could be a successful one this year for the Ivorians, after disappointing performances in South Africa and being unable to win a single African Cup Of Nations, they will be hoping to get out of the group for the first time ever. Their attacking line is one to be admired but their defence still seems to cause the Ivorians problem after problem. The draw has seemingly been kind to the African side and they have a great chance of progressing however Sabri Lamouchi will know it won’t be easy.
Key Player- Yaya Toure, the Man City Powerhouse has had a blinder for the Premier League Champions this season and will certainly want to do it on the big stage this year in Rio. Toure has got everything to his game as many sides have been shown, furthermore his work effort is something to be admired.
Prediction- 1st-Last 16
Greece-After their shock Euro 2004 win, the Greek’s are at 300/1 to win the World Cup this summer. Even at 12th in the FIFA rankings, Greece are seen as the worst side from Europe to travel to Rio this summer and to many haven’t got a chance of progressing through. The worrying lack of midfield presence and goal scoring prowess is a major problem for coach Fernando Santos but his ability to make the best out of a bad situation is something that could spring a surprise.
Key Player- Kostas Mitroglou, the Fulham man has made a feeble 3 appearances since joining from Olympiacos in January from where he’ll hope to repeat the same sort of form that brought him 23 goals in 23 games for the Greek giants and his country prior to his £12m move to West London. If he is to find form, it could see Greece sneak through to the last 16.
Japan- the Asia Champions can pose a major threat to all opposition but simply put, they have no striker. Their strength in midfield produces many of their goals but have a tendency to fade away in games and make clumsy mistakes. Surprise results in Holland and Belgium will provide some hope for Italian coach Alberto Zaccaheroni and the Japanese public that it could be a successful World Cup campaign in Rio.
Key Player- Keisuke Honda, the midfield magician could provide some moments of magic for his country in Brazil. His January move to AC Milan has seen him move to an unfamiliar role on the right hand side of midfield but him and the more familiar Shinji Kagawa will hope to leave their poor form for their respective clubs behind and shine for Japan this summer.