The Ivory Coast’s 2-1 victory against Japan has the team edging closer to the second round for the first time in their World Cup history but Les Elephants should look towards Colombia with caution. Attacking with too much emphasis could cause goals from Columbia’s James Rodriguez, Juan Guillermo Cuadrado and Victor Ibarbo. Teofilo Gutierrez will hold the ball well and bring other players in for attack.
Ivory Coast should look to bring back Kolo Toure, who suffered from a malaria infection replacing Dider Zokora as he offers leadership qualities and has played regularly this season for Liverpool. The rest of the defense played well against Japan and both full backs have pace to offer which should shut down the Colombians main attacking strength.
Against Japan, they deployed a 4-3-3 system, focusing on the pace of Gervinho and Salomon Kalou pushing down the wings and delivering crosses towards Wilfred Bony to use his height to his advantage, however it wasn’t until Didier Drogba came on that Ivory Coast really had any effect against them.
I believe they will start with the same formation against Japan but should look towards a 4-2-3-1 formation with Yaya Toure and Cheik Tiote sitting back and holding off the Colombians powerful attack with the option of Kalou in the center attacking midfield role and Max Gradel starting on the right wing. The pace they set will cause Colombia to be more cautious when pushing forward. They should start with Wilfred Bony and have Drogba as an impact substitute as it’s a fantastic option to have.
It will be a tight affair with neither team wanting to lose so we may not see many chances, the match will likely be won by whomever sets the best defense and Ivory Coast can take confidence from their deep and impactful bench who will give them more options to finish the game.
Colombia will feature a similar setup to the opening 3-0 victory over Greece.