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Game on: Colombia and Greece kick off Saturday’s World Cup games

Jun 14, 2014, 11:27 AM EDT

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After a fantastic slate of games on Friday, it’ll be tough for Day 3 of the World Cup to measure up. Will anyone be able to score five goals? Perform as acrobatic of a header as Robin van Persie? Dance through defenses like Alexis Sánchez?

It’s time to find out. First up is Colombia vs. Greece. Cross your fingers that Greece have expanded their repertoire, electing not to pack ten men behind the ball. Because really, we’re all here to see that flowing Colombian attack.

The match kicks off at 12 noon ET. Here’s what you need to know:

[ MORE, Previews: Colombia | Greece | Group C]
[ MORE, Soccerly: Preview | Follow live ]

Starting lineups

Colombia:   Ospina; Armero, Zapata, Yepes, Zúñiga; Sánchez, Abel, Cuadrado, James, Ibarbo; Teo.

Greece: Karnezis, Maniatis, Manolas, Samaras, Kone, Salpingidis, Torosidis, Gekas, Sokratis, Cholevas, Katsouranis

Talking points

1. How Colombia will fare without Falcao. Relax, people. Radamel Falcao has been injured since the start of 2014. José Pékerman has had plenty of time to think of alternate strategies. And with James Rodríguez, Victor Ibarbo and Teófilo Gutiérrez all set to start, no one’s going to tell Colombia they don’t have the firepower to get past Greece.

From FIFA:

“We’re not talking about injuries anymore, we’re talking about players. I really believe in this team and from here on in we’re working on every situation we could come across on the pitch.”

2. Whether Greece can shed the defensive stereotype. Georgios Samaras let slip that he believes his manager, Fernando Santos, emphasizes a strategy of getting a single goal and defending at all costs. Santos insisted that’s not the case, but it still seems unlikely Greece can shed their overly-defensive image built on their win in Euro 2004.

From FIFA:

“The history of Greek football over the last few years derives a great deal from what was achieved in 2004, with that huge victory. Since then, the players have felt somehow comfortable playing in a particular pattern. Lately, we’ve been trying to progress from that pattern, but it’s very hard especially at national team level, since there aren’t many training sessions. We haven’t had much time to work as a group, so it’s not easy to change these patterns and the team’s habits.”

Expectation: Despite their protestations, Greece will do their best to make this match as dull as yesterday’s were exciting.

One blogger’s prediction: Greece crumbles to dust under the onslaught of the free-flowing Colombia attack. Ok, maybe it won’t be that simple, but Colombia should emerge with the win.

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