The first signs of just how Colombia cope without their talisman Radamel Falcao will be seen when the South Americans take on Greece in their FIFA World Cup 2014 Group C opener in Belo Horizonte on Saturday.
Where to Watch Live:
Gert the report HERE
The first match of Group C is scheduled for a 2 pm local time (9.30 pm IST, 5 pm BST, 12 pm ET) start with live coverage on Sony Six and Sony Six HD in India. The match can also be watched via live streaming online in India HERE. Catch the action in the UK on ITV and BBC with the live streaming option HERE or HERE. US viewers can watch the game on ESPN while you can also live stream the action HERE. Viewers in Australia can go HERE to watch the game online, while South Africa viewers can catch the match HERE.
Colombia were handed a cruel blow with Falcao unable to overcome a knee injury in time for the World Cup finals in Brazil. While Colombia are a lot more than just Falcao, there is little doubt that this side have been weakened considerably following the loss of their best goalscorer.
"I can't hide it. I would like to have Falcao here. We suffered a lot, we got it out of our system, we handled it like a family," Colombia coach Jose Pekkerman said.
Moving forward from the loss of Falcao means picking up an opening victory against Greece, known for their stubborn resistance at the back. Falcao would have been the perfect player to try and unlock that tight Greece ship, and Pekerman will be aware of the challenge that awaits Colombia at the Estadio Mineirao.
"Greece are a very strong team -- aggressive and a team which plays to their strengths," Pekerman added. "They also have coach who is giving them confidence in this final stage, improving them constantly, while maintaining their old identity. There's no doubt we're going to come up against a tough rival. Traditionally this is the toughest type of rival for Colombia.
"They are not afraid of being reproached for their style, they accept it. In South America we think there is only one way to watch football, aesthetically, the most beautiful, but the most beautiful has to be joined to other strengths to be able to compete."
Greece might not be easy on the eye, but they are expected to be pretty effective. Coach Fernando Santos has moulded this latest Greece team on the lines of that famous Euro 20014 winning team, but also with a dash here or there of attacking intent.
"The history of Greek football over the last few years derives a great deal from what was achieved in 2004, with that huge victory," Santos told FIFA's official website. "Since then, the players have felt somehow comfortable playing in a particular pattern," he added, emphasising that passion, will, determination and courage are the core elements that fuel their footballing ideology.
"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."
Colombia, who are making their first appearance at the World Cup since 1998, and Greece, who failed to get out of their group in the 2010 World Cup, are in one of the easier groups of this World Cup, with the Ivory Coast and Japan being the other two teams. All four sides are capable of making the knockout stages, making a strong start to the group paramount.
Expected lineups: Colombia: Ospina; Zuniga, Yepes, Zapata, Armero; Cuadrado, Aguilar, Rodriguez, Sanchez; Gutierez, Martinez.
Greece: Karnezis; Torosidis, Papasthathopoulos, Manolas, Holebas; Salpingidis, Katsouranis, Maniatis, Kone; Samaras, Mitroglou.
Prediction: 1-0 to Colombia