The FourFourTwo Preview: Colombia vs Ivory Coast
A battle of the Group C big guns. Boom!
Colombia have got off to a flyer. Despite losing their effective striker Radamel Falcao to injury, they dismantled a Greek side in their opening Group C fixture with consummate ease. They might have been out of the World Cup limelight for 16 years, but the weekend's 3-0 win was their biggest finals victory in history.
Such is Colombia's embarrassment of riches in attack that highly regarded forward Jackson Martinez was made to watch from the bench. Instead, Teófilo Gutiérrez and James Rodriguez made merry hell in attack. If they find similar space against Ivory Coast, the duo will cause problems again.
For Ivory Coast, the MO is simple: throw Didier Drogba into the mix. With Yaya Toure looking sluggish after the hamstring twang that threatened to derail his tournament, it's up to Drogba to carry his team's ambitions. Ivory Coast were a goal down before his arrival at the weekend. Six minutes later, they were a goal ahead.
At times, Colombia's defence looked nervy against an offensively soft Greek front-line. Drogba's power and sheer bloody-mindedness – if the mood takes him – should be enough to breach them.
What the local media say
"Colombia can almost smell the victory, winning its opening game after a 16-year absence from World Cup play. The Cafeteros opened with a quick a goal in the first minutes of the game, leading 1-0 against Greece at the end of first half play. A second goal in the middle of the second half gave the insurance, but the icing on the cake [came] with the third goal with only one minute left on the clock." - Todaycolombia.com
"Drogba does not hide his satisfaction with this first victory, but keeps in mind that the next game is decisive: 'This is a great victory, we are happy with the result. We got prepared for this for several weeks and it was important to enter the competition in the best way possible. Now, this will be even more important if we make an exact rehearsal against Colombia'." - Allafrica.com
Key battle: Teófilo Gutiérrez vs Didier Zokora
"Teó" was a menace throughout Colombia's opening fixture, leading the line in Falcao's absence and linking well with Rodriguez as a Greek defence previously regarded as being somewhat miserly were picked apart.
If the duo can work in tandem once more, they will give the Ivory Coast a migraine. Meanwhile, Zokora will have to arrive in bolder spirits if he's to shackle either of them. The midfielder-turned-centre-half twisted away from the shot which resulted in Keisuke Honda's first-half goal, when sticking out a leg could have sent it wide. He did, however, complete a game-high 8 clearances during the game.
Facts and figures
- 2 of the Ivory Coast’s 3 wins at the World Cup have come after conceding the opening goal (3-2 vs Serbia in 2006 and 2-1 vs Japan in 2014).
- Didier Drogba has scored both Ivory Coast goals against South American sides at the World Cup (vs Argentina in 2006 and vs Brazil in 2010).
- Colombia’s record against African sides at the World Cup is balanced with 1 defeat (against Cameroon in 1990) and 1 win (against Tunisia in 1998).
More FFT Stats Zone facts
A tight win for Colombia. 2-1.