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    Posted June 15, 2014 by
    Editor2112

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    Executive Sports Co. and FIFA World Cup 2014: What we learned, Day 3

     
    At the end of each day of action at the 2014 World Cup, Kyle Gaspari, founder and owner of Executive Sports Co., weighs in on what we learned from each match.

    COLOMBIA 3, GREECE 0

    No Falcao, no problem. Although he was in attendance for Saturday's match for moral support, Colombian star striker Radamel Falcao isn't going to see the pitch due to injury. There were questions as to how that might affect Colombia's attack, but against defensive-minded Greece, those doubts were abated. Midfielder James Rodriguez picked apart Greece's typically hellish defense and even added a late goal for a bit more class. Wingers Victor Ibarbo and Teo Gutierrez each were active on the offensive front, penetrating deep into Greece's zone on multiple occasions. Gutierrez's 58th-minute goal was a wonderful example of a striker capitalizing on a golden opportunity. In short, the Colombians answered any lingering questions about how potent an offense they possess. They should battle the Ivory Coast for the class of the group.

    Greece isn't so boring after all. Yes, they were outclassed by a talented Colombian squad and eventually looked fatigued by the stoppage time goal, but they put up a fight. After a nervous few opening minutes that saw Colombia take a quick lead, Greece turned into the more aggressive team, which caught their opponent by surprise. The score doesn't show it, but there were two headers in this game – one from Vasilis Torosidis and another from Theofanis Gekas – that should've been tallies. A third chance, this time from midfielder Panagiotis Kone late in the first half, only stayed out of the goal by way of a miraculous save from Colombia's keeper. Yes, they pack it in on defense. Yes, they're deliberate and build (painstakingly) slow from the back, but a bit better finishing and there's a much different storyline to Saturday's match.

    Colombia will go as far as its defense takes it. The offense, as mentioned, looked stellar. The midfield play looked fluid and swift. Even the keeper, David Ospina, came up huge when he was tested a few times. But the defense was sloppy with a few awful clearances and three questionable tackles in the box. No, none demanded a card, but Greece's strikers aren't nearly as imposing as those of the Ivory Coast. They'll need to tighten up the back, show quality tackling and remain composed against better offenses, not necessarily in the group stages, but once (as expected), the Colombians advance. Also, the Colombian supporters, save for the home town fans, were by far the best of any country in the World Cup thus far.

    COSTA RICA 3, URUGUAY 1

    Luis Suarez: Okay, at risk of harping too much on his absence, we'd be remiss if we weren't to mention his absence. Clearly Uruguay's plan was to steal three points without him against Costa Rica, which totally blew up in their collective faces. Now they're really behind the 8-ball, and we'll see Thursday just how injured Suarez is. But his absence Saturday may have already told the story. He may not be fit enough to play at all.

    Costa Rica is no doormat: Widely considered the worst team in Group D, Costa Rica proved, at least, they aren't going to be walked over. In fact, they looked rather potent at times.

    Joel Campbell can make plays, and there's no reason to think they can't be just as problematic for Italy and England as they were for Uruguay.

    Keylor Navas can do things: Another thing Costa Rica has going for them is the play of its keeper, Keylor Navas. He has been known to make amazing saves throughout his career, and he did so Saturday on a deflected Diego Forlan shot.


    COLOMBIA 3, GREECE 0

    No Falcao, no problem. Although he was in attendance for Saturday's match for moral support, Colombian star striker Radamel Falcao isn't going to see the pitch due to injury. There were questions as to how that might affect Colombia's attack, but against defensive-minded Greece, those doubts were abated. Midfielder James Rodriguez picked apart Greece's typically hellish defense and even added a late goal for a bit more class. Wingers Victor Ibarbo and Teo Gutierrez each were active on the offensive front, penetrating deep into Greece's zone on multiple occasions. Gutierrez's 58th-minute goal was a wonderful example of a striker capitalizing on a golden opportunity. In short, the Colombians answered any lingering questions about how potent an offense they possess. They should battle the Ivory Coast for the class of the group.

    Greece isn't so boring after all. Yes, they were outclassed by a talented Colombian squad and eventually looked fatigued by the stoppage time goal, but they put up a fight. After a nervous few opening minutes that saw Colombia take a quick lead, Greece turned into the more aggressive team, which caught their opponent by surprise. The score doesn't show it, but there were two headers in this game – one from Vasilis Torosidis and another from Theofanis Gekas – that should've been tallies. A third chance, this time from midfielder Panagiotis Kone late in the first half, only stayed out of the goal by way of a miraculous save from Colombia's keeper. Yes, they pack it in on defense. Yes, they're deliberate and build (painstakingly) slow from the back, but a bit better finishing and there's a much different storyline to Saturday's match.

    Colombia will go as far as its defense takes it. The offense, as mentioned, looked stellar. The midfield play looked fluid and swift. Even the keeper, David Ospina, came up huge when he was tested a few times. But the defense was sloppy with a few awful clearances and three questionable tackles in the box. No, none demanded a card, but Greece's strikers aren't nearly as imposing as those of the Ivory Coast. They'll need to tighten up the back, show quality tackling and remain composed against better offenses, not necessarily in the group stages, but once (as expected), the Colombians advance. Also, the Colombian supporters, save for the home town fans, were by far the best of any country in the World Cup thus far.

    COSTA RICA 3, URUGUAY 1

    Luis Suarez: Okay, at risk of harping too much on his absence, we'd be remiss if we weren't to mention his absence. Clearly Uruguay's plan was to steal three points without him against Costa Rica, which totally blew up in their collective faces. Now they're really behind the 8-ball, and we'll see Thursday just how injured Suarez is. But his absence Saturday may have already told the story. He may not be fit enough to play at all.

    Costa Rica is no doormat: Widely considered the worst team in Group D, Costa Rica proved, at least, they aren't going to be walked over. In fact, they looked rather potent at times. Joel Campbell can make plays, and there's no reason to think they can't be just as problematic for Italy and England as they were for Uruguay.

    Keylor Navas can do things: Another thing Costa Rica has going for them is the play of its keeper, Keylor Navas. He has been known to make amazing saves throughout his career, and he did so Saturday on a deflected Diego Forlan shot. Look:

    It's nice to know that's behind you as a defense, and he can keep Costa Rica in games, as he proved Saturday.

    ITALY 2, ENGLAND 1

    Italy may have won Group D. This was a huge match following Uruguay's loss to Costa Rica, and the Italians coming away with three points puts them in the driver's seat in the group. Now, that being said, this wasn't exactly a dominant match for the Italians. England's pace gave its defense some problems, but Salvatore Sirigu was excellent filling in for the injured Gigi Buffon.

    England is very dangerous. I know they lost, but this isn't your grandfather's England squad. Speed! Speed just about everywhere you looked! Considering how Uruguay looked on Saturday, I'd consider England a favorite against both them and Costa Rica in its final two matches at this point. So the English may get to the Round of 16 yet.

    It's very hot in Manaus. Not exactly shocking news to find out that it's hot and

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