The two victors in the first round of fixtures in Group C face each other in what is likely to decide who finishes top of the group. Colombia opened their tournament with, ultimately, a comfortable 3-0 victory against Greece, but the South American side now face a different prospect and threat in their next match. Ivory Coast, on the other hand, came from behind to beat Japan 2-1 in a match they dominated.
James Rodriguez was at the centre of everything good going forward for Colombia in their first match, with intelligent play both out wide and in the centre, opening up the Greek defence including his dummy that led to the first goal.
With the preferred attacking attitude so far at this World Cup defences have been exposed on regular occasions and Rodriguez’s dribbling can be used to full effect – the Monaco player completed 3 out of his 5 dribbles against Greece, one of which led to his goal in the final minute. This is especially true with their match against Ivory Coast, whose ventures high up the pitch makes them open to fast and direct counter attacks, and Rodriguez could provide the match-winning moment.
While Ivory Coast ran out in winners in the end, the amount of chances missed will be a concern for coach Sabri Lamouchi, with his side having only 5 out of their 21 shots hit the target and many being wasteful shots from outside the 18-yard box.
A change in fortunes for Ivory Coast occurred after the introduction of Dider Drogba and only two minutes after he came on Ivory Coast equalised. The former Chelsea player didn’t play a role in the goal, but the presence and lift that Drogba provided his team – including an extra body in the box for Japan to worry about – proved pivotal for Ivory Coast. Whether Drogba’s performance sees him obtain a starting position against Colombia or a similar role off the bench, the talismanic striker will continue to be key to his country’s chances.
Premier League Watch
Colombia’s solitary Premier League representative, Pablo Armero, got Colombia off to the perfect start against Greece with the opening goal after only 5 minutes. The full-back didn’t face many problems from the Greek team, but made 2 tackles and 1 clearance before being substituted in the second half.
Both goal scorers for Ivory Coast have their ties with the Premier League – one present (Bony) and one former (Gervinho). Bony, the current Swansea striker, influenced the game in both areas with 3 clearances in his own and 4 shots in the opposition’s – although only one, the goal, found the target. Gervinho, the former Arsenal winger, scored the winning goal for Ivory Coast, but like Bony didn’t have the best performance in the opposition’s 18-yard box. The now Roma player had one shot on target, 3 shots blocked and probably the worst shot of the tournament so far (below).
James Rodriguez’s 6 shots against Greece is only bettered by Ronaldo and Benzema (both with 7) in this World Cup so far.
Ivory Coast completed 151 more passes than Japan on Saturday night, but they made 22 fewer passes in the attacking third than their Asian opponents. This, as well as their highest passing combination between Bamba to Tiote and vice versa (15 for both), tells the story of Ivory Coast’s struggle in the final third in their previous match.
After both teams got off to good starts, confidence is high in the respective camps. The teams are fairly equal on paper and a draw on the pitch is the most likely outcome.
Colombia 2 Ivory Coast 2
(Images are from FourFourTwo’s Statzone)