2014 WORLD CUP SOCCER
Kickoff: Saturday, 12:00 p.m. EDT
Estadio Mineirao – Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Colombia -140, Greece +325, Tie +260
Over/Under: 2.5 Goals (Over +170, Under -222)
Group C play of the 2014 World Cup opens on Saturday afternoon when heavily-favored Colombia looks to take care of Greece.
Colombia's status as a dangerous "darkhorse" to win the World Cup has been downgraded to less-likely underdogs since Radamel Falcao got injured, and coach Jose Pekerman really needs his star striker fit for their opener against defensive kings Greece.
Alongside Belgium, Pekerman's side was many fans' fancies to upset the established hierarchy in Brazil following an impressive qualification campaign in the devilishly-tricky CONMEBOL section. Notable results included a 4-0 win at home to Uruguay, a 3-1 defeat of Chile in Santiago and a 0-0 draw away to Argentina, helping Colombia into second place behind Pekerman's native Argentina
Hopes remained high after a 2-0 friendly win in Belgium, but Falcao's serious knee setback in January and the subsequent uncertainty over whether he will be available has clearly let air out of the South Americans' tires. The Monaco forward bagged a third of his country's 27 goals in qualifying and while colleague Teofilo Gutierrez's strike rate of 11 goals in 27 international appearances is laudable, the 29-year-old's less emphatic record at club level suggests that he cannot be relied upon to carry their challenge.
First up for Colombia will be Greece, which boasts one of the meanest backlines in international soccer. They conceded just four goals and claimed eight clean sheets during their 10 Group G qualifying games. Fernando Santos' team also notched the joint-fewest group goals – 12 in 10 matches, alongside Croatia – of any of the European countries that qualified, so expect a low-scoring affair in Belo Horizonte. Put your wager on the UNDER for this match.