Colombia and Ivory Coast will be looking to secure qualification to the last 16 this afternoon, with a win for either side (coupled with a stalemate in the later match between Japan and Greece) guaranteeing progression to the World Cup knockout round.
Both sides won their opening matches in Group C, with Colombia arguably the most impressive, comfortably dispatching Greece by 3-0. The absence of star striker Radamel Falcao did not hinder the South Americans, with Monaco’s James Rodriguez and Fiorentina’s Juan Cuadrado excellent against the hapless Europeans.
The Ivory Coast had to come from behind to beat a tough Japan side last week, with Didier Drogba’s appearance from the bench inspiring the Africans to a 2-1 first day win. Gervinho and Wilfried Bony got the goals, both headers in the second half, and while they secured the three points, they will have to up their game for the match against Colombia, with José Pékerman’s side looking strong going into the fixture.
Colombia Team News:
Possible XI (4-5-1) – Ospina, Zapata, Yepes, Sanchez, Armero, Zuniga, Aguilar, Rodriguez, Cuadrado, Ibarbo, Gutierrez
Striker Carlos Bacca has been ruled out of the rest of the group stage with a leg injury, but he is the only concern for Colombia, with the team emerging largely unscathed from their first group match.
Pékerman has the option of Fredy Guarin in the midfield, with the Inter Milan man back from suspension, but the indications are that the former Argentina boss will keep faith with the group of players that beat Greece so convincingly.
Ivory Coast Team News:
Possible XI (4-3-3) – Barry, Boka, Aurier, Serey, Bamba, Zokora, Tiote, Y Toure, Gervinho, Kalou, Drogba
Veteran striker Didier Drogba is in line for a recall to the starting XI, having made a noticeable impact with his power and presence when coming on in the win last week.
Yaya Toure should be back to full fitness, with the Manchester City man playing against Japan have just recovered from injury. Reported Arsenal target will look to continue his impressive form, with former Gunner Gervinho deployed on the opposite flank to ex-Chelsea attacker Salomon Kalou.
Soccerlens prediction: Colombia 2-2 Ivory Coast
With dodgy defences on both sides, I reckon we could be in for an exciting, high-scoring affair, with neither side able to beat the other down.
Colombia v Ivory Coast – 17:00 GMT – Group C – Estádio Nacional de Brasilia, Brasília
Key World Cup links:
Colombia World Cup 2014 Team Page.
Ivory Coast World Cup 2014 Team Page.
World Cup 2014 Matches – Fixtures & Results
World Cup 2014 Player & Team Stats
World Cup 2014 Group Tables
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Our main World Cup 2014 news page.
The Official Soccerlens World Cup Predictor Game.