Arguably the most open and difficult to predict of the eight sections, Group C involves four teams with no shared FIFA World Cup™ history whatsoever. What can be guaranteed is an intriguing inter-continental clash of styles, with Colombia’s South American flair going up against teams - Japan, Côte d’Ivoire and Greece - which typify their own regions’ traditional strengths.
*The teams *Colombia are the group’s seeds and will be favourites to advance, while Japan come into the tournament as Asian champions. But such is the nature of this group, it would hardly be a sensation if Côte d’Ivoire, Greece - or both - ended up making it through.
Players to watch
Radamel Falcao (COL), James Rodriguez (COL), Georgios Samaras (GRE), Konstantinos Mitroglou (GRE), Yaya Toure (CIV), Didier Drogba (CIV), Keisuke Honda (JPN), Shinji Kagawa (JPN)
* The crunch match*
Japan-Côte d’Ivoire: The battle between Asia and Africa, the intricacy of the Samurai Blue pitted against the pace and power of Les Elephants, looks sure to provide a real footballing feast when these teams meet in Recife in their opening fixture. A win for either side would also represent a massive step towards the Round of 16.
A look back Japan 0-1 Colombia, 22 June 2003, Saint-Etienne
*With hosts France already safely through from their 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup section, Colombia and Japan knew that only the winners of their final group match would advance to the tournament’s knockout stage. The Asian champions had their chances, most notably when Naohiro Takahara’s header came back off the post, but *Los Cafeteros ultimately sealed a deserved win thanks to Giovanni Hernandez’s decisive 68th-minute header. "Japan were top-notch opponents and that makes this win even sweeter," said then Colombia coach Francisco Maturana, whose side then crashed out to Cameroon in the infamous semi-final in which Marc-Vivien Foe tragically lost his life.
*Did you know? *None of these four teams have ever been beyond the Round of 16 at a World Cup, and only Colombia and Japan have successfully negotiated the group phase. Records, though, are made to be broken and all four will be out to prove they have what it takes to go the distance in Brazil.
The stat 0 - The number of previous World Cup encounters between the teams involved in Group C. With no prior history in the game’s biggest tournament, the highest-profile meeting within the quartet came in the aforementioned Confederations Cup duel between Colombia and Japan.
*The tweet *
Buen grupo, rivales exigentes. Con trabajo, respeto y humildad lucharemos por un sueño!
— James Rodríguez (@jamesdrodriguez) December 6, 2013
*A good group, tough rivals. With hard work, respect and humility, we’ll fight for our dream! *
James Rodriguez, Colombia
Have your say
In this wide-open group, who do you see taking the top two spots - and in what order will they finish?