Group H is the only one without an odd’s-on favourite to win it, but we have the favourites playing the team the bookmakers expect to finish bottom here, so this looks the most likely to see a positive result. It’s been far from an ideal preparation for Japan, with a new manager coming in as recently as April and he’s made big changes to the squad and to the style of play.
However, they’ve lost two of his three games in charge – 2-0 to both Switzerland and Ghana – to carry on their poor form from the end of last year as they are a work in progress. Colombia, on the other hand, are unbeaten in four, including a victory over France and so they look a fair price to kick off their campaign with a win.
The Colombians are in excellent defensive form as seven of their last eight wins were without conceding, while they’ve kept a clean sheet in three of their last four games. Pekerman’s men are up in 9th in our rankings and Japan have failed to score in four of their last six against top-20 ranked opponents, so we’re backing both teams not to score.
Radamel Falcao had an impressive season for Monaco – scoring 24 times in 36 appearances – and after missing the last World Cup through injury, we expect him to make up for lost time here. He’s netted against the likes of Spain, Brazil and France since last summer and on the biggest of stages we’re backing him to open the scoring.