Colombia are Group C’s grand fromage who, having being placed in a pool that appears friendlier than most, are expected to glide into the knockout rounds without even dirtying their kits.
Ivory Coast, Greece and Japan are those the pre-tournament punting masses have earmarked for making up the numbers in this four-continent encompassing division, but qualifying will prove far from a formality for Los Cafeteros, the non-thinking man’s World Cup dark horses.
The South American outfit are in fact as illuminated as the steed St George used to get from A to B during a high-speed police chase, a realisation that will become apparent in their opening fixture, which features in our trio of best Group C bets.
Greece to beat Colombia to nil @ 11/2
As cautious as a tortoise in a game of dodgeball, few can effectively absorb attacking pressure as proficiently as the Greeks.
Ten years prior to the tournament they defied universal expectation and won Euro 2004 thanks to some exemplary rearguard action.
An identical approach will adopted a decade on and a Colombian attack shorn of their leading marksman, Radamel Falcao, could conceivably be confounded by their reinforced backline.
Greece kept eight clean sheets from ten in qualifying and no European outfit conceded fewer goals.
Ivory Coast to finish bottom @ 11/5
Group C ignominy has been set aside for the Greeks, but if bet numero uno does the bizzo, they’ll shift the dishonour into the Ivorians’ lap.
The Elephants’ ‘golden generation’ have been handed a third opportunity to advance beyond the group stage for the first time in the nation’s existence, but if they couldn’t do it in their prime, how can their ageing stars be expected to prosper with their careers in decline?
Didier Zokora, the Toure brothers and Didier Drogba ensure that the core of the team that travelled to Germany in 2006 remains intact eight years on; expect them to achieve similar results.
Japan to score over 2.5 goals @ 1/2
A front four comprised of guile-loaded playmakers and a sharpshooting striker should be able to score at a rate of one goal per game in Brazil.
Locksmiths of Shinji Kagawa and Hiroshi Kiyotake’s class will ensure that AC Milan’s Keisuke Honda and 15-goal Mainz forward Shinji Okazaki are afforded ample chances to find the net.
They bagged 30 goals en route to the competition and have averaged three goals in every World Cup they’ve participated in.