The final round of group games are upon us and the knockout stages are just around the corner, but before that Ivory Coast face Greece in a match that will decide the second qualification place in Group C.
After winning their first match of the tournament, Ivory Coast’s defeat against Colombia on Thursday means a win over Greece (or a point depending on the outcome of the Japan-Colombia match) will see the African side through to the knockout stages. A problem for Ivory Coast though has been their clinical edge in the final third and it cost them in their previous match. A resolution to this problem will need to be found quickly by Sabri Lamouchi, as they face a Greece team that can frustrate their opponents in the final third. The key for Lamouchi will be to stretch the Greek defence and he may have the fortune of facing Greece when they need to commit more men forward to get the desired win. If this happens, it will play into the hands of the African side and Gervinho can hurt them with his pace and quick feet.
The former Arsenal forward started to lose his way near the end of his Arsenal career, but since moving to Roma last summer his form has been rejuvenated and the Gervinho that dribbled past Colombian defenders before finding the back of the net has been a common sight in Serie A this season. While his delivery will need to be spot on to beat the Greek centre-backs who easily kept Japan at arm’s length, his ability to beat a man and produce a fast burst of pace can open spaces to break through. A special mention must go to right-back Serge Aurier who poses a threat on the counter attack with 2 assists in the opening match, his delivery will need to improve from the Colombia game. Despite creating a good chance and beating his opposing full-back 5 out of 6 times.
Due to Ivory Coast’s defeat, Greece have a chance of progressing through to the next round, which would be remarkable after scoring no goals in their first two matches. Against Japan, the Greeks were down to 10 men for a long period of the game and focused on the defensive side of the game, which can clearly been seen in the possession and passing statistics (Japan – yellow, Greece – white).
Without many flair players in their side, scoring a goal has been a struggle for Greece at this, and previous, World Cup’s, but as the above statistics suggest Greece have had more corners than their Asian counterparts – and this was where they’ve been most dangerous. Three chances were created from their 7 corners against Japan and Greece will need to take advantage of set plays when they face Ivory Coast, who despite being more physical can have concentration lapses and allow opposition players to get free of their marker. One attacking player that was brought into the Greece starting XI for the Japan match was Giannis Fetfatzidis and unfortunately saw his chances to impress cut short due to the red card to team-mate Konstantinos Katsouranis. Fetfatzidis does have the ability to beat an opponent with his close ball control and being comfortable in possession allows the move to continue to flow. With play in the final third currently difficult , finding and knowing the right ball to play is vital to Greece’s chances.
- After failing score during the qualifying stages, Gervinho has now scored in each of his last 3 internationals for Ivory Coast.
- In their third ever World Cup, Ivory Coast have the chance to qualify for the knockout stages for the first time in their history.
- Like their opponents, Greece are at their third ever World Cup and have only scored 2 goals in 8 appearances – both in 2010 against Nigeria.
- Despite their defensive image, Greece’s clean sheet against Japan was their first at a World Cup finals.
Greece’s struggles on the world stage are set to continue due to their inability to combine attack and defence in a fluent balance to allow Ivory Coast to seize their chance of qualification to the knockout stages of the World Cup.
Ivory Coast 2 Greece 0