Brazil got off to a good start earning all three points from their opening fixture against Korea DPR a.k.a. North Korea. But what was worrying about the match was the close margin by which Brazil won. After brilliant goals by Maicon and Elano, Korea managed to score in the 89th minuted through Ji Yun Nam. Was Brazil caught off-guard after they thought they were soaring to a 2-0 victory or is there actually something that their opponents can target?
Ivory Coast, on the other hand, kept level with Portugal. Cristiano Ronaldo did not have a single shot on target followed by the free-scoring seasons he has had at Real Madrid and Manchester United. Probably the most lethal African striker, Didier Drogba fractured his arm in a warm-up match right before the World Cup. It was as much of a shock for the rest of the world as it was for Ivory Coast.
Watch Brazil vs Ivory Coast live online.
Historically, the best footballing nation. Appearing in all 19 world cups and being the five times world champion is not just an achievement; it is a legacy. They might not have the services of some of the fan favorite players but they are still as big of a threat as anyone can be.
They are currently sitting pretty at the top of Group G, being the only team out of the four to have won their opener. Another win should confirm a place for Dunga’s men in the Round of 16.
Korea DPR is ranked 105th in the FIFA World Rankings and it will be an exaggeration to call it “coming close to shocking Brazil” but they did pull one back in the 89th minute to end the match 2-1. Alarming, for a team of Brazil’s history and stature. Going into the game, not many would have doubted a Julio Cesar clean sheet but it was not to be.
Brazil will have to take a few steps up to overpower the Ivorians. Nilmar puts it plainly:
“In the match against Ivory Coast, we have to make our lives easier by playing in a more relaxed way. It is going to be a tough match because the Ivory Coast game is power. Instead of Portugal’s, which is like us based on technique. the match between Ivory Coast and Portugal was good, even better for us because they drew.”
Maicon’s goal against Korea was purely a wonder goal. Something of the kind that Roberto Carlos scored from the left of goal. He could never get any close to pulling something like that off again and lets see if Maicon’s career has more jaw-dropping goals for us.
Elano’s goal was a work of art. It is something that we have known Brazil for. Inch-perfect running, passing and shooting. The way Robinho delicately sliced open the Korean defense and the way Elano beat the offside trap made it all look scripted. Just another example of ‘God is Brazilian‘.
Robinho said at a press conference:
“I’m in very good moments and I want to keep improving. It was just the first match and I hope I can get better until we can reach the final. As for my future, I hope I can be a world champion and come back home to Brazil with the title.”
Dare not underestimate the capabilities of the Ivory Coast World Cup squad! Didier Drogba, Kolo and Yaya Toure, Emmanuel Eboue, Salomon Kalou and of course their coach, Sven Goran Eriksson – sounds like a big European club, right? None of the clubs will be too happy to let go of these names.
Ivory Coast almost suffered a heart-attack when Drogba fractured his arm in a warm-up game right before the start of the first-ever World Cup on his home soil. That too, after a successful domestic double with Chelsea. Salomon Kalou was his striking partner at Chelsea. Kolo Toure saw Manchester City challenge the fourth Champions League spot. Emmanuel Eboue was solid in defense for Arsenal and of course Yaya Toure was an inspirational figure in the Barcelona midfield playing right behind the likes of Xavi and Iniesta.
This is Ivory Coast’s time to shine. They might not be able to outshine Brazil but if they want to leave an impact on world football, 2014 might not see as many stars in their team. Drogba’s injury could be the reason why Ivory Coast goes back home earlier than expected and if that is to happen, Drogba will probably never be Drogba again.
Eriksson addressed all of these issues in a press conference and he looked very confident of his team although recognizing the ruthless predators his opponents can be. He said:
“I don’t suppose we are favorites. Brazil is always favorite when they play a match. That’s very easy but I’m optimistic and there were so many good things against Portugal so I’m very confident.”
Very positive comments. Maybe just what his men need to cause problems for Brazil. He also mentioned the Drogba situation and his appearance against the best footballing nation so far:
“He [Drogba] played against portugal and I think he played very well. It was 25 minutes. For sure, if, touchwood, everything goes as plans, he will play much more and don’t be surprised if he starts from the begining.
Is featuring Drogba against Brazil (possibly starting him) the right way to go or maybe a 100% fit player is better than a 70-75% fit star? This has been proven either way by different players in different circumstances. What will be the right answer for this particular dilemma… time will tell.
Brazil and Ivory Coast have faced each once before which ended in Brazil completely dominating the Ivorians and winning the match 2-0.
Same result. 2-0 to Brazil. Also I really hope to see Ivory Coast in the Round of 16 at the cost of Portugal’s early exit.