France, Colombia and Costa Rica shine without star players
The focus of much of the World Cup so far has been on individuals, on how the likes of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez can affect their team’s fortunes, but some of the best displays so far have come from sides without a clear superstar.
In particular France, Colombia and Costa Rica, who all arrived in Brazil without their key player, have barely felt the loss as they strolled to two wins in their opening two matches.
France’s odds to win the World Cup have tumbled to 10/1 after their 5-2 demolition of Switzerland, with Colombia 22/1 and Costa Rica still an understandably lengthy 80/1.
Les Bleus’ rampant start to the competition has been achieved without the injured Franck Ribery, who finished in third place in the FIFA Ballon d’Or early this year.
Colombia have plenty of attacking options, but none as potent as Radamel Falcao, who netted nine times in qualification.
However, they have scored five in their first two games without the Monaco man, with midfielders James Rodriguez and Juan Cuadrado stepping up with two goals and three assists between them.
Costa Rica’s Alvaro Saborio is not a household name like Ribery and Falcao, but he netted eight goals for Los Ticos in qualifying and sits third on their all-time top scorer list.
Even without Saborio Costa Rica have been able to record wins over Uruguay and Italy, making a mockery of the ‘Group of Death’ that has put paid to England’s campaign.
In contrast, the Three Lion’s obsession with Wayne Rooney was a hallmark of their disastrous World Cup, while Uruguay’s reliance on Luis Suarez was demonstrated by their 3-1 loss to Los Ticos without him.
Germany are another side who have excelled without one particular superstar, smashing Portugal 4-0 in their first match, with A Seleccao faring none the better for rushing Cristiano Ronaldo back from an injury.
For all their stars, Argentina and Brazil have so far looked dangerously dependent on Lionel Messi and Neymar.
If they fail to fire in one match, the two South American favourites might find themselves bested by a more coherent team like France, who have developed into true contenders without one of the very best players in the world.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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