Colombia v Greece: Greece coach Fernando Santos claims Kostas Mitroglou will have an impact at World Cup despite woeful season at Fulham

 

For all that the build-up to Colombia and Greece was dominated by a striker who won’t be playing, the irony is it could well be settled by a forward who has barely played all year.

It certainly feels one of football’s quirks that the injured Radamel Falcao will not be available for this World Cup, while Greek manager Fernando Santos has just declared that Kostas Mitroglou will be fit.

The latter barely played for Fulham last season after a £15m January move from Olympiakos, with his transfer - which was the most expensive in Greek history - ending up one of the curiosities of the season. Felix Magath never illustrated the faith in him that Santos has.

The reality for the international team is that there is no doubt about Mitroglou’s importance, no sense of farce about his input. He is one of Greece’s most important players, as illustrated by the three strikes in the 4-2 aggregate play-off win over Romania that secured their place in Brazil.

 

“Being a player who has an important role in the team due to his characteristics we understand that Kostas should be here,” Santos said. “Everything is ok.”

“I think he has been improving a lot physically so that is not a problem. He may be lacking rhythm a bit but after each day he is better and Mitroglou will be close to his top performances here.”

Greece will need that. He is the only player that provides penetration in a largely defensive side. In the absence of Falcao, meanwhile, Colombia will look to another forward who has attracted Premier League attention: Jackson Martinez.

One of them will have to make his presence felt - especially in such a seemingly open group.

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