Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America Classifieds
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
Colombia is cruising and Greeks make history
by Mike Woitalla, June 24th, 2014 9:26PM

MOST READ
TAGS:  colombia, greece, ivory coast, japan, world cup 2014

MOST COMMENTED

By Mike Woitalla
(@MikeWoitalla)

Colombia continued its brilliant run with a 4-1 win over Japan to finish first in Group C while Greece became the tournament's biggest underdog -- along with Costa Rica – to reach the second round, thanks to a 2-1 win over Ivory Coast. Here's what we think about the latest knockout round qualifiers.

James-led Cafeteros are delight to watch. Colombia, last seen at a World Cup 16 years ago, had never won more than a single game at its four previous appearances. The Cafeteros’ 4-1 win over Japan marked their third straight win in Brazil, with a combined score of 9-2.

Leading the Colombians is the 22-year-old playmaker James Rodriguez, one this tournament’s most exciting and productive players and early contender for the Golden Ball.

In Colombia’s opener, a 3-0 win over Greece, James dummied the ball to Pablo Armero for the first goal, set up Teo Gutierrez for the second and scored the third himself. In the 2-0 victory over the Ivory Coast, he scored and set up 21-year-old Juan Quintero’s goal. Colombia entered Tuesday’s game already having clinched a second-round spot, so Coach Jose Pekerman rested most of his starters, including James. But the 1-1 halftime scoreline pulled James off the bench and he took over again, with dazzling dribbling moves and defense-splitting passes.

While in prime shooting position in the 55th minute, James instead served up Jackson Martinez. In the 82nd minute, James’ through ball set up Martinez’s second goal and James finished off the scoring my juking a defender and chipping the keeper at close range with his left foot as we so often see Lionel Messi doing it. (Martinez, after playing only 17 minutes in the first two games, demonstrated how deep the Cafeteros’ attacking talent is.)

Colombia’s teams of the 1990s, lead by Carlos Valderrama, often entertained in such fashion but came up short at World Cups. Pekerman’s team looks able capable of reaching the quarterfinals for the first time in history. In the round of 16, it faces Uruguay, which should be without Luis Suarez after FIFA reviews the biting incident.



Greece can score just enough. Its most glorious achievement came when Greece won the 2004 European Championship by scoring only seven goals in six games -- three 1-0 wins taking it from the quarterfinals to the final.

Its World Cup history consisted of first-round exits in 1994 and 2010 before starting this tournament off -- as Europe’s least fancied team -- by playing two games without hitting the net: the 3-0 loss to Colombia and scoreless tie with Japan.

Greece faced the Ivory Coast needing a win to advance. That meant finally scoring a goal -- a feat it accomplished in the 42nd minute when Andreas Samaris capitalized on a defensive mistake. The Elephants energized in the second half and seemed to doom the Greeks with Wilfried Bony's 74th-minute equalizer.

Greece’s hopes looked dim until two minutes into stoppage time when Giovanni Sio clumsily tripped up Georgios Samaras, who converted the penalty kick himself to send Greece to the second round for the first time in history. Awaiting is Costa Rica, the surprise winner of a group that included former World Cup champions Uruguay, Italy and England.

At least one of the biggest pre-tournament underdogs will reach the quarterfinals.


No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Confidential
Yallop encouraged despite frustrating season    
The Fire has set a league record for tied games while slipping from its 2013 record, ...
MLS Awards: Rimando is deserving of top keeper award    
Veteran Real Salt Lake goalie Nick Rimando had another strong season despite being called away by ...
Klinsmann kicks Bradley when he's down    
There's an old saying that I think makes some sense: "Praise in public, criticize in private."
USA concedes late again to wind up tied    
The USA controlled play in the first half but couldn't sustain the momentum against Honduras, and ...
USA-Honduras Player Ratings     
In a performance that ranks among the USA's most miserable in recent history, Jozy Altidore provided ...
Donovan signs off with near-miss and fond goodbyes    
The Landon Donovan Era ended with a 1-1 tie against Ecuador as the next phase of ...
USA-Ecuador Player Ratings     
Landon Donovan used the final 41 minutes of his national team career to remind us how ...
Donovan and the USA, then and now    
Nearly 14 years after it started, the national team stint of Landon Donovan will end Friday ...
The courage of Landon Donovan    
I have been thinking a lot about Landon Donovan this week.
'Backs to the wall' mentality suits Timbers    
With its colorful fan base and incredible string of sellouts at Providence Park, Portland is a ...
>> Soccer America Confidential Archives