Greece vs. Ivory Coast – Match Preview

FIFA World Cup 2014
FIFA World Cup 2014

2014 Fifa World Cup Group C Match Preview

By Alexander Rellos for Lusaka Voice


On June 24 the two final matches of Group C will take place and we go into these two

matches with all four teams having a chance to qualify from their group and enter the round of

16. The two matches will be Japan vs. Columbia and Greece vs. Ivory Coast. Both promise to be

interesting matches for different reasons. Of the four teams, Columbia have already qualified to

the next round having won their openers against Greece (3-0) and Ivory Coast (2-1). All other

three teams have an opportunity to join the South Americans. Ivory Coast have it the easiest

with fate being in their own hands. If they win, they qualify. Japan are facing the strongest side

in the group and only a win will be enough. Columbia will not be playing with the same intensity

as they have already qualified, however they will still be looking to at least tie the match because

this will ensure they top the group. Greece have an uphill battle because even if they beat Ivory

Coast but Japan beat Columbia, they still don’t go through. A win for the Greeks however would

give them a good chance.


The match in question: Ivory Coast vs. Greece promises a lot of Drama and it will be

interesting to see how the teams will line-up and play each other, with crucial absences and off-

field problems plaguing both sides. Despite both Greece and the Ivory Coast being considered

decent sides, both have only featured in three World Cups (including this one) and neither of

them have ever gone past the group stages! This is an incredibly big shock for Ivory Coast who

have so many star talents such as Yaya and Kolo Toure, Gervinho, and Didier Drogba playing

for top European sides. All of these players are ageing and this is seen as the last chance for

the Ivorian’s “Golden Generation” of players to play together at a major tournament. Greece’s

greatest achievement in the sport by far has been winning Euro 2004 and in recent years they

have still been relying on two very old players from the same squad 10 years ago. Greece’s

captains, Georgios Karagounis and Kostas Katsouranis are 37 and 35 respectively yet are still

both important players in the Greek team. Greece have seen some new youth come in with much

promise, but the veterans are still heavily relied upon. Usually, one of them plays at a time. It is

more often the younger one, Katsouranis, but he got a red card in the game against Japan and he

will be missing. Karagounis should come in to replace him. Another doubt is Kostas Mitroglou,

Greece’s striker who has not been in form and is yet to score a goal since his injury at the end of

last year. Before then, he was one of the best strikers in Europe.


For Ivory Coast, the big question is how much the sad death of the Toure brother’s

younger brother Ibrahim will impact them. It should definitely impact them mentally, and this

could cost the team as these are two of their best players. Also defender Didier Zakoura will miss

the match because of suspension from a yellow card in each of his last two matches. A player

who does look set to start for the Elephants is Didier Drogba. Drogba may be the best player

the nation has ever produced, and has had an illustrious career playing for top European sides,

most notably Chelsea where he scored the winning penalty for them in the Champions league

final against Bayern Munich in 2012. However he is 36 years old now and has come on as sub in

the opening two games, with Swansea’s Wilfried Bony the favorite to partner in-form forward

Gervinho. However Bony has not impressed and Drogba has improved the play of Ivory Coast

when coming on—he was crucial in the comeback win against Japan where after trailing by a

goal, Drogba’s introduction helped propel the team to a 2-1 victory.

the next round for the first time in their history. Greece were in a similar position at Euro 2012

when only a win against Russia would ensure qualification. They entered the match as

underdogs as they will be against Ivory Coast but managed to win with a 1-0 score with the goal

coming from none other than captain Karagounis. Expect each team to know each other’s

strengths and weaknesses and play off that. Greece are one of the best teams in the world at

defending with their best player Sokratis Papastathopoulos being a key stone in both Greece’s

defense and his club side Borussia Dortmund, one of Europe’s top sides. Greece’s other Centre

back will be the very promising and in-form Kostas Manolas who excelled against Japan. The 23

year old Olympiakos man is wanted by many top clubs including Juventus and Manchester

United. AS Roma’s Vasilis Torosidis is another outstanding player who plays as a right-back and

also offers and attacking threat. Greece’s forward/winger Georgios Samaras will be another one

to watch for the Greeks, his height at 6’4’’means he is a big threat from set pieces in addition to

being a good dribbler. Greece should play defensive, looking to hit on the counter attack and

with set piece situations which they excel. Ivory Coast can be susceptible to the counter, and

Greece will see this as a good opportunity. Greece’s weakness is of course their lack of goals and

also the left back position. Jose Holebas is an excellent crosser and good when coming forward

but a poor defender and Samaras is often found tracking back to help him. Columbia and Japan

attacked down the right to expose Holebas on the left, and expect Ivory Coast to do the same

thing. The Ivory Coast will also be using set pieces as an opportunity. Despite Greece being

good at scoring from set pieces, they are also bad at defending them—Greece only conceded

four goals in qualifying yet all four were from set pieces. Greece must be able to contain the

Ivorian’s powerful attack, with Yaya Toure right behind Gervinho and Bony/Drogba sure to

cause the Greeks problems.


The key battle will be Manolas vs. Gervinho. Greece’s defense vs. Ivory Coast’s offense.

I believe that whichever team scores first will have a huge advantage. If Greece score first they

will simply sit back and do what they do best—frustrate their opponents until the final whistle

blows. This is the way they won Euro 2012, and if Greece score first, they will be in a good

position for the classic 1-0 victory. However if Ivory Coast score first it will be the other way

around with the Greeks then forced to come out of their comfort zone to search for two goals.

This will be hard for the Greeks to do, and as they open up that will be when the Ivory Coast can

strike. This promises to be a close encounter with many tactics involved. The winner will likely

advance from the group stages of a World Cup for the first time, while the loser will pack their

bags and head home.

By Alexander Rellos for Lusaka Voice


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