Colombia v Ivory Coast - Expert v Expert Preview


Both sides took maximum point from their first game, so this game could be a play-off for first place in the group. Ivory Coast  expert James Bennett takes on his Colombia  counterpart Juan Arango. Who will prevail?

TEAM NEWS

Juan Arango on Colombia: Colombia arrived on Wednesday afternoon in Brasilia after undergoing a morning session in their complex in Cotía-SP. The entire squad travelled to the Brazilian capital, even injured forward Carlos Bacca. He will continue his rehab on the muscle injury he suffered in last Sunday’s practice that will have him out of action for 7-10 days. José Pekerman will also have Inter Milan midfielder Fredy Guarín for this match, after having served a one-match ban. 

James Bennett on Ivory Coast: With left-back Arthur Boka almost certain to be fit despite his knock against Japan, and no new injury worries for Les Elephants, Sabri Lamouchi's main concern will again be the attacking positions. Wilfried Bony missed some big opportunities against Japan, but did eventually find the net for the equalising goal. This has probably earned him a reprieve, with Lamouchi indicating that he sees Didier Drogba as more effective as an impact substitute, a role he excelled at in the last match.

FORM

Juan Arango: Colombia look confident after the 3-0 win over Greece last Saturday in Belo Horizonte. A win against Ivory Coast would see them reach the round of 16 for the second time in their history. What left José Pekerman a bit worried was the amount of possession they gave Greece despite the Europeans doing very little with the ball offensively.

James Bennett: Ivory Coast rallied impressively in the second half against Japan, but that does not hide the frustrating display leading up to that. But they did at least secure a win, which puts them in a strong position in the group. While another win here would almost certainly put them into the second round, a defeat to a talented Colombian side would not necessarily be a disaster. In competitive matches, they are still unbeaten in over a year, the last defeat coming against Nigeria in the Africa Cup of Nations, and haven't drawn a blank since the 2012 final against Zambia.

WHAT THE MANAGER SAYS

José Pekerman on Colombia: "We have our ideas and what the team wants to do. But we also know what a World Cup is all about. We have to know how to both; to attack and possess as well as resist attacks. It's part of growing."

Sabri Lamouchi on Ivory Coast: "People love Didier Drogba and I know there are a lot of lovers of Drogba's style. But you have to understand the last time he played 90 minutes was a few months ago in Turkey. He's just recovered from injury."

KEY MAN

Juan Arango: Teófilo Gutiérrez. The River Plate forward will be key up top should he be the lone striker and Jackson Martínez would come off the bench. Gutiérrez showd he could hold the ball and run off it in order to make James Rodríguez have less marks on him.

James Bennett: Cheick Tiote. Yaya Toure looked a little fatigued against Japan and his contributions seemed laboured. With Serey Die first moved to centre-back and then substituted, it was left to Newcastle's Tiote to hold the midfield together, and he did it superbly, demonstrating he is more than just a stereotypical midfield destroyer. He will probably now be tasked with stopping the dangerous Colombian playmaker James Rodriguez and disrupting their attacks, which will probably define whether or not the Ivorians can top the group.

BEST BET

Juan Arango: Based on his play, Teo Gutiérrez could score in this match, at pretty good odds of 3.00. The native of Barranquilla cold be the beneficiary of wide play as well as having James Rodríguez to associate with. Great chance for the former Cruz Azul and Junior man to make a difference up top. 

James Bennett: Gervinho to score at 5.10. With Colombia persisting with their 38-year-old captain Mario Yepes at centre-back, they could be susceptible to the pace of Gervinho, their most influential attacker when Drogba is off the field. The former Arsenal winger is in great form, after a strong season for Roma and scoring the winner against Japan. Given time and space, he could double his tally here.

SCORE PREDICTION

Juan Arango: Ivory Coast 1-2 Colombia at odds of 9.50

James Bennett: Ivory Coast 2-1 Colombia at 13.00

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