World Cup Group C preview: Greece v Cote d’Ivoire

Cote d’Ivoire will look to break down the dour defence of Greece in their final Group C game at the Estadio Castelao in Fortaleza on Wednesday, June 25, from 6am (AEST).

The equation is simple for Cote d’Ivoire - win and make the final 16 for the first time in their history.  A draw will see them dependent on the goings on from the Colombia v Japan game, in which case they will be willing anything but a Japan win. 

Cote d’Ivoire have been impressive this tournament, and finally showed the potential they have teased us with for the past decade.  If the African nation can reach the knockout stage, the likes of Didier Drogba and Gervinho are capable of match-winning performances.

Greece managed to fight off numerous Japanese attacks and even create a few counter attacking chances despite being a man down for over 50 minutes.  For most neutrals the match was quickly forgettable but for the hordes of Greek fans the match presents an opportunity for the team to progress despite not scoring in the tournament as yet.  If Greece win they could progress, depending on the result of the other match.

The big issue

Can Greece find the back of the net?  If Cote d’Ivoire finds an early goal a real doubt lingers over the quality of the Greece attack.  They are heavily reliant on a stoic defence - the team only conceded four goals in 10 qualifying matches - but this stage at the World cup is very different.  Greece has the ability to pinch the game at the death, but finding numerous goals will be a tough mountain to climb.

Cote d’Ivoire have enjoyed the bulk of possession in previous matches (56% and 57%) and will want to maintain this against Greece.  Yaya Toure’s presence in the midfield should steady any nerves held by his Cote d’Ivoire teammates. 

The game breaker

Attacking trio Gervinho, Wilfried Bony and Drogba haven’t shared the pitch as yet, but it’s a very powerful tool in the armoury if needed.  Coach Sabri Lamouchi will be hoping the situation won’t come to this, but has the ‘break in case of emergency’ option.  Gervinho has already scored twice in the tournament and could prove the key element for reaching the final 16. 

Prediction: Cote d’Ivoire 2 - 0 Greece

Cote d’Ivoire has a wealth of talent on the park and should prove too much for Greece.  Despite being ranked 11 places lower that their opponents, The Elephants will be the first African nation through to the second phase. 

In the other match Colombia should finish first in their pool with a win over a disappointing Japan.