Colombia v Ivory Coast – Goals Galore
Colombia v Ivory Coast
Colombia and Ivory Coast meet on Thursday for a game which already looks likely to decide the top spot in Group C after both claimed wins in their opening fixtures.
The Colombians are now heavy favourites (2/5) to top their group following a comprehensive 3-0 win over Greece in their opening World Cup tie. Pablo Armero gave his side an early 1-0 lead with the help of a slight deflection which Colombia took into the break. Teofilo Gutierrez showed good instincts to convert from close range just before the hour mark while James Rodriguez’s composed finish sealed the win in injury time. The Greeks weren’t without their chances though the side that finished second in South American qualification showed they will still be a force to be reckoned with in the absence of star striker Radamel Falcao. Colombia have now lost just one of their past 13 games and kept eight clean sheets in the process.
Playmaker Rodriguez has scored three in his past four international games and poses a real threat.
Despite a less convincing scoreline, Ivory Coast will be just as satisfied as their upcoming opponents with their 2-1 victory in the first group game in the early hours of Sunday morning against a highly capable Japan side. They found themselves a goal down inside a quarter of an hour when the Japanese took the lead through a crisp strike from Keisuke Honda and still trailed at the break before showing good character to turn the game around in two pivotal minutes in the second half. Swansea striker Wilfried Bony glanced home a neat header to level the scores before Gervinho repeated the trick less than 100 seconds later, with both goals created by terrific crosses from the right by full back Serge Aurier as his country earned only a third win in eight.
It was a surprise to many that Didier Drogba was only on the bench in the first group game, as he had scored six in his last seven internationals and in each of the last three games for his country prior to their World Cup opener. Drogba came close to making it seven in eight against Japan when his powerful late free-kick was well saved while former Arsenal forward Gervinho has also found the net in each of his last two appearances.
Inter Milan midfielder Fredy Guarin is expected to return to the starting XI for Colombia after he served a one-game suspension against Greece. Coach Jose Pekerman has no new injury concerns though and Guarin looks likely to be the only change to his team.
Drogba could feature from the beginning here after making a big impact through his physical presence when he came on as a substitute against Japan with Serey Die likely to make way and a change in formation to a more orthodox 4-4-2 likely. French manager Sabri Lamouchi will also have to work out a way to get more from African Player of the year Yaya Toure.
These teams have never met previously in a senior international fixture.
I’m not pushed on either side in the match betting market as the Ivorians look good value at 11/4 and have scored in each of their last 26 games but kept a clean sheet just once in their past 13 fixtures so their strengths and weaknesses are quite evident. Bearing that in mind the 4/6 on both teams to score has to be the pick of the bets here although over 2.5 goals at 10/11 could also prove well worth backing in a World Cup already overflowing with goals.