By Rhys Griffiths
With just days to go until the start of the World Cup on June 12th we're taking a daily look at what lies in wait in each of the eight groups. Today we look at Group C, which is set to be a truly global affair with sides from four continents.
Colombia received the news they had feared the most earlier this week when it was announced that star striker Radamel Falcao would not make the World Cup squad after he failed to recover from a knee injury. The Monaco forward was likely to be the main man as Los Cafeteros make their first appearance at the finals since France in 1998, with many picking them as an outside bet to go deep in the tournament. Now boss Jose Pekerman will have to look towards the likes of River Plate's Teofilo Gutierrez and Falcao's Monaco team-mate James Rodriguez to fire them out of the group and match their best-ever World Cup performance when they reached the last 16 in 1990.
Never the most thrilling team to watch, Greece are renowned for their ability to keep it tight at the back and use that stinginess in defence as a platform for grabbing unexpected results up the other end. To see this approach in action you only have to look back to Euro 2004 in Portugal, where they conceded just four goals in six games en route to the title. A decade on and the side assembled by coach Fernando Santos has proved equally adept at keeping them out, letting in just four goals in qualifying for Brazil. Now he will look to players such as Georgios Samaras and Konstantinos Mitroglou to provide the goals to lead them out of the group.
Despite a plethora of top talent - including a number of faces well known to fans of the Premier League - Ivory Coast have struggled to turn star quality into World Cup success during their two previous visits to the tournament. This summer in Brazil young French manager Sabri Lamouchi will seek to conjure something special from a generation of greats of the African game who may see this as their last chance on impress on the biggest stage. And with the likes of Yaya Toure, Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou and Wilfried Bony at his disposal, fans of Les Elephants have every reason to hope it will be third time lucky for Ivory Coast.
While Japan may be reigning Asian champions - having defeated Australia in the final back in 2011 - doubts persist about their ability to transfer this regional success to the World Cup. In last year's Confederations Cup in Brazil the Samurai Blue lost all three of their matches, shipping nine goals in the process. Manager Alberto Zaccheroni - who has been at the helm since 2010 - will hope star man Keisuke Honda, supported by a squad including Manchester United's Shinji Kagawa, can lead the side to at least emulate their previous best of making the last 16.
Group C Fixtures (all times UK)
June 14th, 17:00: Colombia v Greece - Estadio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte
June 15th, 02:00: Ivory Coast v Japan - Arena Pernambuco, Recife
June 19th, 17:00: Colombia v Ivory Coast - Estadio Nacional, Brasilia
June 19th, 23:00: Japan v Greece - Arena das Dunas, Natal
June 24th, 21:00: Japan v Colombia - Arena Pantanal, Cuiaba
June 24th, 21:00: Greece v Ivory Coast - Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza