Both secured good solid victories in their round of sixteen ties, where neither conceded. Algeria are currently second-favourites to win the tournament outright, which leaves the Elepehants as big underdogs for this game. However, Ivory Coast have been edging the head to head against the Algerians. Read our Ivory Coast v Algeria betting tips for more.
Ivory Coast 3/1
* (Betting Odds were taken from bet365 on July 9th, 2019 at 7:14 p.m.)
The Ivory Coast only finished in second place in the group stage of this year’s Cup of Nations. That was behind Morocco who the Elephants lost to. They took wins over South Africa and Namibia in the group. That sent the Ivory Coast through to the round of sixteen where they were up against Mali. That was a tight game with the Ivory Coast winning 1-0 thanks to a lone goal from Wilfried Zaha. That leaves him as their top scorer in the competition with the two goals.
The Elephants have won four of their last five games played now and during the 2019 calendar year, they are W7 L2 from nine games. The two defeats which they have taken in that sequence of games were both by a 1-0 scoreline. Interestingly in their last four wins, two have been by a 1-0 scoreline and the other two were 4-1 successes. They were the championship winners back in 2015 but fell at the group stage in their defence two years later.
All six previous meetings have gone over 2.5 goals
Ivory Coast are W3 D2 L1 in the head to head against Algeria
Both teams have scored in each of the last five meetings
Ivory Coast are unbeaten in their last four against Algeria (W2 D2)
The Desert Foxes sailed through their round of sixteen tie against Guinea. They romped to a 3-0 success and were pretty much unchallenged there. They had also won Group C of this year’s competition with three straight wins. They scored six unanswered goals in the group stage in their three games, so that is no goal conceded in this campaign from them at all. With Egypt having taken an early tumble, Algeria are right up there as second favourite to win outright.
Algeria have Adam Ounas on three goals for the tournament, making him the joint top scorer. Riyad Mahrez has weighed in with a couple as well. It is really back since the middle of November last year that Algeria have been in hot form. They have peaked just at the right time with having gone W8 D2 in their last ten games. They are currently on a five-match winning streak and they scored at least two goals in four of those five wins. The last time they made it past the quarters was in 1990 when they went on to win.
Algeria look very good value for money at the moment. They are on a fantastic run of form, aren’t conceding and are up against an Ivory Coast side who don’t look to be a major threat in front of goal. Algeria to win to nil.
11th July 2019 / lee - Category: International Football Betting
This could be a really good tie. Mali were group winners from the first round of action but they will be going into this game as underdogs. The Ivory Coast had to settle for a second place finish in their group stage campaign behind Morocco. The winner faces Algeria or Guinea in the next round. Read our Mali v Ivory Coast betting tips for more.
Ivory Coast 13/10
* (Betting Odds were taken from bet365 on July 4th, 2019 at 5:13 p.m.)
Mali were sound and secure in the group stage. They took good wins over Mauritania and Angola, while they held their own against Tunisia in a draw. Those seven points saw them win their group by a comfortable margin. Mali took back to back third place finishes at the Africa Cup of Nations in 2012 and 2013 but then were knocked out at the group stage in the previous two. So this is a good step forward for them.
Mali’s form is inconsistent, but they are a tough side to beat. They are W5 D4 L2 in their last eleven games and the two defeats in that sequence were one-goal margin losses against Senegal and Algeria, two of the stronger teams around. Mali’s win over Angola in their third group stage game is their only clean sheet in their last six, which will be a little bit of a concern for them.
Ivory Coast earned four points from World Cup 2018 qualifiers against Mali
The Elephants are W11 D4 L2 in the head to head against Mali
Just one of the last six meetings have gone over 2.5 goals
Things are even at one each and two draws in the last four meetings
While they managed to take wins over South Africa and Namibia in the group stage, the Ivory Coast missed out on top spot. That was because of their 1-0 loss against Morocco in the group’s heavyweight showdown. That only secured them second place in the group. Still, that is progress because they failed to get past the group stage in their title defence at the 2017 tournament. This is not the easiest of round of sixteen ties for them though.
The Ivory Coast have lost just two games since September last year. They are W8 D2 L2 in the twelve matches in that sequence of games. They have scoring power in them, having scored at least three goals in four of their last eight fixtures. It’s just that they don’t always look the most secure at the back. They have picked up the one clean sheet in their last six games now. Aston Villa’s Jonathan Kodjia and Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha have both gotten on the scoresheet in this tournament.
This could be a really close game. Mali are not going to be a pushover at all in this one, even though they are underdogs. This has a decent chance of going beyond the 90 minutes, so it is the draw in the match outright which appeals.
6th July 2019 / lee - Category: International Football Betting
There is going to be a great finish in Group D of the Africa Cup of Nations. All four teams have a mathematical chance of getting through. Ivory Coast are sat on three points and even though Namibia are searching for their first points, a big enough win here could see them move ahead of their opponents on goal difference. Read our Namibia v Ivory Coast betting tips for more.
Ivory Coast 3/10
* (Betting Odds were taken from bet365 on June 29th, 2019 at 5:25 a.m.)
Namibia have suffered back to back defeats in the group so far. The first was against Morocco when they put through their own net in the final minute, and then against South Africa. Three points could put them in contention for a place in the next round, even if it is as one of the best third-placed finishers. All four games in this group so far have ended in a 1-0 results, so there’s been a trend and it highlights how close things are between the teams.
The form of Namibia has seen them win just three of their last eight games played, losing half of the games in that sequence. They will probably be a little disappointed with their start to the tournament here though. But at least it leaves them in a position of having nothing to lose and everything to gain. Namibia came through qualification on a tight head to head record only over Mozambique.
This will be just the second meeting between the two nations
Ivory Coast took a 4-3 win in their previous meetings
That was an AFCON 1998 clash
Ivory Coast finished second in their qualification group to Guinea, taking a W3 D2 L1 record from the campaign. They were one of the higher-scoring teams to come through the qualification process though. They need to rediscover that scoring threat a bit. They took a 1-0 win over South Africa to open their group stage campaign with, but then lost to Morocco by the same scoreline in their second fixture.
They have to better whatever South Africa’s result against Morocco is in the final round of matches to get an automatic qualification spot. Any points out of this would likely go a long way to secure a place as one of the best third-placed teams at worst. Defeat and they are going home. The Ivory Coast have won five of their last seven games, losing the other two. Both defects incidentally are 1-0 score lines. Looking back a little further they are W4 D2 L1 in their last seven competitive matches.
The Ivory Coast should be able to push on and collect maximum points in this one. They won’t find the going as tough against Namibia as much as they did against Morocco. So there is a decent chance that the Elephants will pull through. Ivory Coast to win.
30th June 2019 / lee - Category: International Football Betting
This a crucial World Cup 2018 qualification match from the CAF going down this week. This will decide who wins Group C. Morocco are heading up the table going into the final round of matches and just need to pick up a draw in this one. The only way now that the Ivory Coast can guarantee themselves a spot at Russia 2018 is by winning this one. The Ivory Coast are even money at bet365 to win the game, with the draw at 11/4 and Morocco at 3/1
There is a great set up in this one where the home side have to win, while the visiting Morocco just have to cling on to a draw. The Ivory Coast are a point behind Morocco in the group standings, but trail them badly on goal difference so a point won’t be enough for them. When the two met earlier in the group stage they played out a 0-0 draw in Morocco and the likelihood is that this game will also go under 2.5 goals and at bet365 that is an option at a quote of 2/5 while you could probably comfortably push that further under 1.5 goals for a 5/4 quote. At home, so far in the group, they have gone W1 L1 at home and the telling result there was a loss against Gabon. That was a real turn up for the books because earlier in the group, the Ivory Coast had won 3-0 in Gabon.
In the bet365 correct score market for this big game, the 0-0 draw is a quote of 5/1 while the only shorter priced option is a 1-0 home win for the Ivory Cast at 4/1. The Ivory Coast are a quote of 7/4 to win to nil. Their current form only reads W2 D1 L3 though in their last six games and so are having their struggles without question and have lost two of their last three home fixtures (W1). In the head to head with Morocco, things are level of the last five meetings with one win each and three drawn matches. They have already met this year with Morocco taking a 1-0 win over the Ivory Coast at the African Cup of Nations in January. There have been just two goals in the last three meetings between these two and four of the last six have gone under 1.5 goals, each of the last four going under 2.5 goals.
So a tight game should be on the cards. Morocco just have to grind out a draw and they are capable of that. They have yet to concede in any of their five group games so far, scoring nine goals in those games. Out on the road, they have collected 0-0 draws against the Gabon and Mali and along with their home draw with the Ivory Coast, that’s three 0-0 draws in five qualifiers from them. It’s Well worth looking at both teams not to score at bet365 for a price of 1/2. There are clear indicators here that Morocco knows how to defend and there is something of an appealing price of 5/6 at bet365 on a Morocco-Draw Double Chance cropping up. Can they dig in there for that point?
Draw: What an intense game this should be and if recent head to head fixtures are anything to go by, there may not be anything to split the two of them again. Back Morocco to go and finish the job they have started by holding out for that precious point.
8th November 2017 / lee - Category: World Cup 2018 Betting
Qualification for the knockout stage of Brazil 2014 will be in the minds of both of these nations. The Ivory Coast will get there with a draw as long as Japan don’t beat Colombia, while Greece will have to record just their second ever World Cup victory if they want to get through. If Greece win, they will need Colombia to not lose against the Japanese. The odds on Greece to win against the Ivory Coast is at 14/5, with the Elephants trading as even money favourites.
It is going to be worth covering the game with 0-0 Bore Draw Insurance at Bet365. The bookmaker offers refunds on the Correct Score, Scorecast and Half Time/Full Time markets if the game ends without a goal. Also for the World Cup they are extending their great unlimited places on First Goalscorer bets, and any wagers placed on the World Cup outright winner placed in-play during the tournament, will be refunded if the selection gets knocked out on penalties.
Neither of these have been past the group stage of the World Cup before, but it looks as if the Ivory Coast are going to make it. They have recorded a win over Japan and a defeat against Colombia, and while they haven’t looked a world beating side, they have offered more than what Greece have done in the tournament so far. So this should be their easiest game of Group B, and they sit on three points, with Japan and Greece behind them on one. Only a win for the Elephants would absolutely guarantee progress for them. There’s usually goals where the Ivory Coast are in action, and look over 2.5 goals even though Greece are involved, because the Ivory Coast’s last five games played have gone over.
The Ivory Coast are also trending with 2-1 scorelines. Their last four matches played have been settled but that scoreline, the Elephants winning two and losing two of those. In five of their eight World Cup matches, the Ivory Coast have conceded two or more goals, so they aren’t the strongest defensive unit. Eight the twelve goals which they have scored at the World Cup, have been netted in the 60th minute or later in matches. Five of their last nine goals have been headers as well. The Elephants have only failed to score in one World Cup match ever, so again, it is what generally keeps scores up in their matches. Gervinho has become the first ever Ivory Coast player to score in consecutive World Cup matches and he is at 2/1 in the anytime goalscorer market, with Didier Drogba and Wilfried Bony both at 5/4.
Greece only wish they had the forward options that the Ivory Coast do. They opened their World Cup campaign with a 3-0 defeat against Colombia, and then they followed that up with a 0-0 draw against Japan. That was their first ever clean sheet in a World Cup match, having conceded in each of the previous seven. Their World Cup record is firmly against them, as they have lost six of their eight played and have only scored in one of them. So you know what you are going to get in a Greek match. Hard work, huff and puff with not a lot of end product. Greece have played two World Cup matches against African opposition, both against Nigeria, losing against them in 1994 and beating them in 2010.
Punters just aren’t going to see enough in the Greece to throw money at the odds on Greece to win against Ivory Coast. You get the feeling that a draw would be the best that they could get out of this, and they probably have it in them. The Ivory Coast will be desperate to consolidate their stronger position in the group, and would back the African nation to take all three points.
23rd June 2014 / lee - Category: World Cup 2018 Betting
The battle for top spot in Group C will kick off in this one, after both sides recorded opening victories. Who will take the next big stride forward by bagging another three points and take control at the top of the pile? A good game is in prospect here and one that has the promise of goals. Who will reign Group C? The odds Ivory Coast to win against Colombia are at 11/4, leaving Colombia as 5/4 favourites.
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This will be the first time that these have faced off against each other and neither have much experience of playing teams from the other one’s continent. Colombia have only played African nations twice at the World Cup, where they are on an even standing having beaten Tunisia in 1998 and having lost against Cameroon in 1990. Colombia, who are without Radamel Falcao’s, showed that they didn’t miss their star man as they recorded their best ever World Cup result in drubbing Greece 3-0 in their opening match. It was a comfortable win for them, looking in control all the way through. The odds on Ivory Coast to win against Colombia are long on the African nation, because they may have trouble breaking down a strong Colombian defence.
Even without Falcao, Colombia have options leading the anytime goalscorer market, with Teofilo Gutierrez and Jackson Martinez at 6/4 favourites. Colombia are currently unbeaten in their last six matches played, and their last two have both finished 3-0 in their favour. There isn’t a big likelihood of the south Americans coming out and thumping the Ivory Coast by that scoreline, but there is the promise of goals in this one and Both Teams To Score as well as Over 2.5 goals look good options for this one. This is a clash between the top two, the winner in this one will be in firm control to top the group.
England fans should be watching this, because if the Three Lions get through, they’ll likely be playing one of these two sides in the round of sixteen. The Ivory Coast have lost their only two World Cup matches against South American opposition, losing against Brazil and Argentina. Their goals in both matches came from one man, Didier Drogba, who is 9/4 in the anytime goalscorer market. Seven of the eleven World Cup goals that the Ivory Coast have scored have been after the 60 minute mark of games. The African nation have scored in all but one of their seven previous World Cup matches.
Would snap up the odds on Colombia to win against Ivory Coast in this one, because there looks to be a decent amount of value in the at 5/4. Defensively they are stronger than the Ivory Coast, but the African nation will likely really get stuck into this. Neither would be unhappy at a draw at the end of the day.
18th June 2014 / lee - Category: World Cup 2018 Betting
This actually has the look of being a pretty good game. It has the look of goals in it, that is for sure, despite it being in Group C which is the favourite of all the groups to be the lowest scoring. Both of these are in decent scoring form and neither look convincing enough to post a clean sheet. Big three points on offer and it could be entertaining with the Ivory Coast running at 6/4, and Japan at 2/1 for the win.
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Interesting looking match here, and it is the African nation, who went unbeaten through World Cup qualification, who are trading as favourites. But they aren’t odds on and that means that the odds on Japan to win against the Ivory Coast are tempting enough to have a shot at Japan at 2/1 in the outright market. The Blue Samurai have won their last five matches on the bounce, unbeaten in six, and there was a draw against Holland and a victory over Belgium in that sequence of matches. During their more immediate World Cup warm up matches, the goals were flying for Japan and that means they will be full of confidence in this one and could trouble Les Elephants.
Japan have won their previous two World Cup matches against African nations two, indeed, two of their four victories at the World Cup have come against African nations, including their 1-0 win over Cameroon four years ago. They have a couple of reliable forwards in their ranks in Keisuke Honda and Shinji Okazaki. The latter was top scorer during the Asian World Cup qualifiers and so could be worth a look at 2/1 in the anytime goalscorer market. Japan have netted twelve goals in their last four matches, granted the level of opposition wasn’t that high, however its a good habit to be in.
Can the Ivory Coast make it out of their first group stage at the World Cup? They have averaged 1.5 goals per game in their World Cup history, more so than any other African nation in the finals. Didier Drogba is trading at 2/1 in the anytime goalscorer market for them, but there are other decent options in Wilfried Bony and Gervinho. They have options, perhaps more obvious ones than Japan do. But their defence isn’t strong, with no clean sheets in their last six matches, so even money on both teams to score in this one looks a pretty good shot. The Ivory Coast have scored in each of their last six matches, so know where the goal is. You could take it over 2.5 goals too.
Who is more likely to bank the win here? The Ivory Coast probably, but because this one is so close to call and there are good stats to back up the Japanese here, so perhaps value in shooting for the Blue Samurai to come up with something. They are industrious and hard working enough and quick enough to cause the Ivory Coast problems. The odds on Japan to win against the Ivory Coast are looking value at 2/1 in the outright winner market, they are worth a shot.
14th June 2014 / lee - Category: World Cup 2018 Betting
Kick-off: Friday, 25th June – 13:00 GMT
Stadium: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Referee: Alberto Undiano (Spain)
All eyes will be on the other Group G match on Friday, the one between Brazil and Portugal, as they slug it out at the top of the table. Sven Goran-Eriksson’s Ivory Coast have only the slimmest chance of progressing to the second round, and will count for another failure by the African teams at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The only way for the Ivory Coast to get through, is by demolishing North Korea heavily, and hoping that Brazil defeat Portugal heavily too. If Portugal lose and the Ivory Coast win, then they will finish on the same points in the group, but Portugal have a better goal difference. Portugal ran up seven goals against North Korea, while the Ivory Coast were losing 3-1 to an impressive looking Brazilian side. Now the Ivory Coast need those two results reversed in the final matches to have any hope of reaching the promised land of the last sixteen. While Didier Drogba returned to the side, it was not enough to compete against Brazil, and the Ivory Coast must be regretting not pushing harder in their opening match against Portugal. While the Portuguese had a field day against the North Koreans, the Ivory Coast may find it harder to run up the goals, with Sven Goran-Eriksson’s team not looking particularly potent in front of goals.
That will not stop them going for it though, and they know that they will need to make a quick break through against the North Koreans. This should break the resistance of the Asian side quite quickly, and allow the Ivory Coast to go on their goal hunt. But whatever they do in this match, they will know that ultimately their progress it out of their hands if Portugal pick up a point against Brazil. The Ivory Coast drafted in Sven Goran-Eriksson to lead them at the World Cup, after the nation failed at the African Cup of Nations. This will count as another failure, as they really have not stood up and competed as well as hoped, and their cautious approach to their opening fixture will come back to haunt them. In Didier Drogba, they have a talisman and you wouldn’t back against him finding the net against North Korea. But this golden generation of Ivory Coast players look as if they will limp out of the competition, instead of fulfilling the promise of one of the strongest African nations.
The North Koreans won a lot of supporters in their first match against Brazil. They put out an amazingly diligent and hard working defensive line up, which the South American giants only breeched twice. Not only that, they came away from the game with a consolation goal as well, and while the scoreline suggests a close game, truth is the North Koreans were outplayed for the large part of it, and never really threatened a win. They played a tough game though, closing out space, closing down players and hanging on well. But it all came badly undone in the second half against Portugal, as their opponents ran up six goals. With their defensive walls well and truly crumbling, it may be hard to pick themselves up. They looked to completely run out of steam in the second half against Portugal, and this could work in the favour of the Ivory Coast, who will be looking for a similar scoreline. They were not sharp enough, and lost their composure and shape, and while they were always expected to lose, they will have been deflated after conceding so many. Now the priority is not to let that happen again to such a large degree. The lowest ranked team in the nation briefly played their part, but now they should bow out with picking up a single point.
Match Verdict – Ivory Coast to win 1.4 at BetFred
Not a lot to play for in this match, but could be entertaining from an African point of view if the Ivory Coast get in to their groove. It will all be spearheaded by Didier Drogba of course, who will be vital in getting the goals. They need goals and they should get them, they will just want a quick break through. While a Sven Goran-Eriksson side will never be a particularly attack minded one, one would hope that he throws some caution to the wind in this one. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain, as they keep one eye on the other match, hoping that Portugal take a beating.
Football-Bookmakers.com Value Bet – Anytime Scorer Salomon Kalou 2.75 at William Hill
Current North Korea V Ivory Coast Odds:
24th June 2010 / lee - Category: International Football Betting
Kick-off: Sunday, 20th June – 7:30 GMT
Stadium: Soccer City Stadium, Johannesburg
Referee: Stephane Lannoy (France)
Coach Dunga’s Brazil put in a very new Brazilian type of performance against the North Koreans in their opening match. The scoreline finished 2-1 in favour of the South Americans, a scoreline which would put doubts in the minds of punters about their ability to go on and win the World Cup. Why did Brazil not put four, five or six goals past the lowest ranked team in the tournament? Well, for two main reasons. Firstly, the Brazil you will see at the World Cup, is a more patient, more balanced side than you will have seen for a while. There is a calm patience about them, which still means that they will control games easily, but they will not sacrifice victory in the pursuit of going gung-ho and racking up the goals like Brazilian teams of old. Secondly, a lot of credit must go to the North Koreans, who sat ten men behind the ball for the majority of the match, and were so incredibly disciplined and organised in their formation and defence, that any team would have struggled to break them down.
But, break them down Brazil did, after full back Maicon scored a fantastic goal. Whether he meant it or not from the tight angle, only he will truthfully know, but it was just rewards for the accomplished Brazilians. While it was more of a workmanlike effort, that alone should send shockwaves to the rest of the competing nations, that Brazil are prepared to grind out results, and showed enough respect to their opposition to still put their holding midfielders in. That is the ethics of Dunga’s Brazil, winning is the most important thing on the books. They want their World Cup title back, and they look in a formidable mood. Being formidable is not all about scoring a hatful of goals, it is not putting yourself under any pressure. They were never in any danger of losing their opening match, it was simply a matter of patience and composure, which they showed in spades.
Brazil look calm and composed, and as the starting eleven shows, with the numbers on the back of their shirts reflecting that, Dunga and the players know who is the preferred starting line up. It has been this way since well before even the FIFA deadline of naming their 23 man squad. Dunga is confident in his players, and the players are confident in themselves. Their faces at the end of the match showed that they were delighted with their 2-1 result as the job was done. There was no self recrimination for not scoring more, there was a healthy respect for the challenge their opponents had put up, and that the Brazilians came through a tough workout with their heads held as high of those from North Korea. Brazil should challenge for the World Cup, as there is an eerie confidence about them. In many ways the game against the Ivory Coast should be an easier match for them in terms of style, but the key battle could be between their world class defender Lucio and the returning Didier Drogba.
Coach Sven Goran Eriksson is expected to put Drogba in from the start, after the Ivorian talisman showed no problems when he came on for the last 25 minutes of their opening fixture against Paraguay. His recovery from his broken arm will be a huge boost to their chances of getting out of the group, and things do not get much tougher than their next opponents. Eriksson will be in a bit of a quandary as to how to approach this match. If Les Elephants play expansive, then Eriksson will know that will be playing into the hands of the Brazilians, as it will give them more time and space to pick off his side. However, if they get stuck into a gritty midfield, physical battle, then it will be hard to change momentum if they go behind, and it won’t offer enough of a threat up front.
The Ivory Coast looked like a different side to the one which had turned up and failed at the African Cup of Nations earlier in the year. Eriksson’s calming and conservative influence could be seen throughout the side. There was not much urgency to get forward or take any risks against Portugal, and that has not been the way of the Ivory Coast. Their strengths have been in attack, while they have been lacking a cohesiveness at the back. Eriksson, while not much time has been spent in the job with the African Nation, has clearly changed that. If it means taking away some of their attacking threat to remain tighter in the midfield and at the back, then so be it. Eriksson will be relying on his trump card Didier Drogba to lead from the front and take any valuable points off the Brazilian side. They will need to be more adventurous than they were against Portugal though, and find the right balance to push forward and worry about the phenomenal counter attacking powers of the Brazilians.
Match Verdict – Brazil to win 1.67 at Bet365
Even though this looks to be a tougher test for Brazilian than what they faced against the North Koreans, Brazil will probably have more time and space to play their way around the Ivory Coast. Sven Goran-Eriksson will naturally instil some caution in his side, even though there are thoughts that his style will take away from what this golden generation of Ivory Coast players can really offer. They looked tense and nervous, and frightened of losing in their first match, with not much creativity or craft coming through. Brazil on the other hand, especially through Robinho, who has been one of the most outstanding performers in the tournament so far. They are the confident side, and you would expect them to push on forward.
Football-Bookmakers.com Value Bet: Over 2.5 Goals 2.2 at Totesport
Current Brazil V Ivory Coast Odds:
19th June 2010 / lee - Category: International Football Betting
Ivory Coast V Portugal
Kick-off: Tuesday, 15th June – 15:00 GMT
Stadium: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Referee: Jorge Larrionda (Uruguay)
Les Elephants marched into their second World Cup as they trampled on their opponents in qualifying, with the African side dropping just two points as they won five of their six qualifiers. Germany 2006 was when the entire footballing world was introduced to the orange of Ivory Coast when they were drawn in the ’Group of Death’ alongside Argentina, Holland and Serbia & Montenegro. Their lasting memory of Germany was their comeback against the Serbians, overhauling a 2-0 deficit to win 3-2, although they still missed out on the knock-outs by quite some distance after losing to both Argentina and Holland.
Four years on and they’ll face a similarly stiff task of escaping yet another ’Group of Death’. In their group – Group G – contain the tricky Portuguese, the largely unknown North Korea and the team with the most formidable World Cup CV known to man, Brazil. The Brazilians can wait their turn though, as Portugal lye in waiting first of for Sven’s charges. The Swede, who guided England into two successive quarter-finals, certainly has the valuable World Cup know-how and tactical nous to see Ivory Coast at least go close to achieving their priority goal of reaching the Round of 16 for the first time, but he will have to do so without his primary goalscorer, captain and Ivory Coast icon in Didier Drogba, who is still recovering from an operation on his arm.
The injury to Drogba couldn’t have come at a worse time, just weeks before the finals, but there is optimism around the camp that should Ivory Coast meet their goal of qualifying from the group, Drogba may be able to play some part in their knock-out encounters, as the Chelsea forward, who ended last season with the premiership Golden Boot, remains part of the 23-man squad out in South Africa. Whether or not he is merely playing the role of motivational speaker, as he was the captain, we aren’t sure but it does at least give Les Elephant followers, as well as the rest of Africa a glimmer of hope to cling onto, as without Drogba you would struggle to find a case for the Ivory Coast in the latter stages of the tournament when up against quality opposition.
This game couldn’t be any bigger for Sven Goran Erikkson and the Ivory Coast, although the similarities between now and four years ago are there for everyone to see. In Germany, Ivory Coast began their campaign against the two hardest opponents in the group in Holland and Argentina. They’ll do the exact same in South Africa before finishing off against minnows North Korea, meaning a dreadful start against Portugal would leave them having to win their second against Brazil and that’s not the sort of dilemma you won’t to find yourself in. A Drogba-less Ivory Coast does, quite obviously, decreases their chances of beating Portugal, but we cannot disregard that this Portugal side are nowhere near the standard or level they were at Germany when they went as far as the semi-finals and there are some half-decent replacements for Sven to pick from, with perhaps Kalou playing more central with Dindane and Gervinho bursting down the flanks. That’s a whole lot of pace right there, and if the central pairing of Zokora and Toure can remain disciplined throughout, providing cover over the back four, and the wingers make the most of their pace down the flanks then you’d be a brave man to rule them out of this contest.
The Portuguese will be competing in their fourth World Cup, with three of those surprisingly coming in succession which just highlights how only recently Portugal have come to the table. They will, however, consider themselves rather fortunate to even be in South Africa after a turbulent qualifying campaign which resulted in them needing to beat Bosnia & Herzegovina over two-legs after their lacklustre efforts in qualifiers left them scraping the barrel and needing two huge displays. Carlos Queiroz, who left his post as assistant manager at Manchester United, never got those two huge performances he wanted but two narrow 1-0 victories in either leg was enough to seal qualification via a more unconvincing path.
Portugal’s shortcomings in recent years have been well publicised and a large portion of the blame has fallen on the manager’s doorstep, and rightly so. While this may not be the richest crop of Portuguese talent we’ve ever seen, there are a number of supremely talented individuals in amongst the set up, none more so than the 2008/2009 FIFA World Player of the Year, Cristiano Ronaldo. Queiroz’s failure to get the best of his squad, Ronaldo in particular, who didn’t score a single goal in qualifying, has rightly seen the former United assistant take the brunt of the blame, although the players will need to stick their hands up as well as some of their displays during qualifying were abysmal. The irony of it all is Ronaldo, who is by far and away their most influential player, wasn’t available for either leg against Bosnia in the play-off and yet the Portuguese rallied behind one another and produce two gritty displays. It wasn’t pretty but it was pleasing to see that Portugal, a team with a renowned reputation for having big ego’s, can spring together a succession of hard-working displays thus proving that when their back are against the wall they can produce the goods.
Fortunately, for both us the spectators and Carlos Queiroz, Cristiano Ronaldo did avoid picking up an injury in the latter stages of a season which produced another jaw dropping goal return of 33 goals in 35 games. Although Real Madrid did end the season trophieless, Ronaldo was once again in inspire form as he almost single handily kept Madrid in the title race right up until the final game of the season. Now if he can somehow transfer his club form over to Portugal, something he has found difficult and he isn’t the only one, then Portugal are more than capable of defying the odds and having a prosperous 2010 World Cup.
It’s fairly obvious that without some consistently high level performances from Ronaldo, who is with amazement their captain, Portugal won’t go far. That’s almost a given as the standard of football likely to be played by the other big nations will put them in the corner. Even so, Portugal aren’t a one man team and there are a number of players who will be key to their hopes of bypassing South Africa’s version of the ’Group of Death’. In defence they have a couple of dogged individuals in Ricardo Carvalho, Bruno Alves and Pepe; the inguinity and guile of Raul Meireles, Miguel Veloso and the evergreen Deco, while up front they’ll be relying on Ronaldo and Simao beating their markers and either cutting inside to have a shot on goal or supplying forward Liedson.
Match Verdict: Portugal to WIN – 2.25 SkyBet
The pace of the Ivory Coast attack is quite scary when you think about it, but Portugal have some able full-backs in Miguel and Paulo Ferreira, who should be smart enough to spot the surging runs. If Portugal can destroy the confidence of Les Elephants wingers than they are halfway to winning the battle, as that looks their only route to goal.
Cristiano Ronaldo really does need to come to the fort for his country in South African and banish the memories of a drab qualifying campaign. He’s so key to their chances and if he can somehow replicate half the form he showed for Real Madrid, Portugal would be fine. Others will need to step up and be counted also; Simao, Meireles, Deco and Liedson to name a few.
We should be in for an attacking game of football providing neither lost their bottle in the build up to kick-off. The full-back areas on both sides will be key, as that is where both teams will look to make the breakthrough. If other theory is to be correct, Portugal should run out victors. The combination of Ronaldo and Simao just has far more appeal than that of the Ivory Coast paring of Gervinho and Dindane. We shall, we’re banking on the Portuguese clinching the perfect start.
Football-Bookmakers.com Value Bet: Cristiano Ronaldo FGS – 5.50 Bet365
13th June 2010 / Matt - Category: International Football Betting