World Cup Day 3: Colombia-Greece Notes

Colombia vs. Greece

1st half:

Armero (7) started things off quickly with a 5th-minute strike. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

Armero (7) started things off quickly with a 5th-minute strike. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

-considering that Greece readily welcomes (and usually effectively wards off) opposing offensive attacks with a stout defense, it’s surprising how easily the Colombians tore through their offensive third, and following connections within the opposing penalty box, found an open Pablo Armero to slice in the score; this development in the early-going could either speak to the underestimation of Los Cafeteros playing without star Radamel Falcao (retaining their CONMEBOL qualifying form so far), or to the persisting consideration and potential importance of the factor for teams playing the World Cup within their home continent

-after Colombia’s fifth-minute goal, the Greeks seem to have woken up, and for the time thereafter maintain possession and hold the ball away from an explosive opposing attack for most of the half (notably grabbing back the better side of possession percentage, and leading in the category 56-44 by halftime)

-though not necessarily having great technical proficiency, Greece has generated some noteworthy offensive attacks (all of which slow-developing and devoid of any urgency) albeit abruptly ending in the Colombian penalty box, in addition to hunkering down on the defensive end of the pitch and only yielding a few counterattacking opportunities–typifying how Greece’s entire team always operates; so by smoothly executing their gameplan in the first half, the Greeks have shown the scoreboard to be deceptive, playing better through 45 minutes than their foes

2nd half:

-the Colombians have regained their offensive focus in the early parts of the half, pressuring upfield once more; after the Greece is booked for two yellow cards in the first 10 minutes (losing control of the game), Los Cafeteros capitalize on a corner kick (58′) as striker Teofilo Gutierrez situates himself in the opportune place to tap in a score

-the Greeks show signs of offensive life in a reaction to the 2-nil deficit, and combine for a fantastic opportunity that ends when a header smacks off the crossbar

-with about 15 minutes remaining in the contest, Colombian coach Jose Pekermen inserts Jackson Martinez up top, subbing out Gutierrez–another dangerous offensive weapon (and potential WC breakout star) without which his team still somehow managed to accomplish a 2-0 lead; perhaps Pekermen should alter his lineup to include both of his exceptional strikers in the near future

-icing on the cake comes when 22-year old James Rodriguez connects on the third minute of stoppage time against a dispirited Greek defense (3-0 Colombia)

End-game thoughts: entering its first game of the WC, Colombia could have easily hit a roadblock in a defensively dominant Greek team, especially after having to compensate for and adjust to the absence of goal-poacher Falcao (something they have not dealt with in major tournaments); although out-possessed and slightly out-played by Greece, the Colombians have discovered that their prolific offensive play and cohesiveness in the attack, along with a strong counter-attacking ability, will carry them in this tourney

-also of noteworthy recognition: South American teams have now posted an impressive 3-0 record in the World Cup, a mark they’ll likely push to four before the day ends after a Uruguay-Costa Rica match

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