After commencing their respective 2010 World Cup campaigns on very different notes, Brazil and the Ivory Coast will meet in a crucial ‘Group of Death’ fixture on Sunday. June 20th at 2:30 EST.
Despite a 2-1 victory for the Brazilians over a weak North Korean side, they struggled for the majority of the match, and even went into the half deadlocked at an unthinkable 0-0 score line. Although their second half performance was much more dynamic and energetic, they displayed lapses on the defensive side of the game, and their allegedly impenetrable back-line was conquered late in the match.
Brazil vs Ivory Coast Odds:
Ivory Coast (+480)
Meanwhile, the Ivory Coast began their World Cup with an impressive performance against Portugal. Playing devoid of their star player Didier Drogba in the starting lineup, the Ivoirians still maintained the majority of possession against an explosive Portuguese attack. Their draw positions them well for the remaining Group G matches, and if they can manage to steal a point against a vulnerable looking Brazil squad, it would do wonders for their hopes of advancing and give life to the entire African continent.
Keys to the Game:
The superb talent of the Brazilian lineup provides problems for any of their opponents. This is a team that has scored in 23 consecutive World Cup matches, and is a good bet to continue that streak against the Ivory Coast. Coach Dunga felt that his side displayed their nerves for their first match against North Korea, but is expecting a much sharper performance in their second game. No changes are expected in the Brazilian lineup, with Dunga in all likelihood employing his 4-2-3-1 formation. Star midfielder Kaka struggled in the lead-up to South Africa, and his problems continued against the North Koreans. He is battling a groin injury and certainly looks far from his best, yet both Dunga and the players have faith in their central playmaker. Fellow teammate Robinho expressed his importance saying “When Kaka plays well, he can decide any game. He is very important to us, and on Sunday he will need to be at his best.”
The biggest news for the Ivory Coast for their clash against Brazil is the fitness of Didier Drogba. Their hero, and leading scorer will be set to start in this all-important clash and will be imperative in trying to solve a usually unbeatable line of defense. Expect Gervinho to be relgated to bench duty in wake of Drogba’s return. However the word emanating from the Ivory Coast camp is that defense, not offense, will be the way to defeating the powerful Brazilans. Defender Emmanuel Eboue stressed that “if we defend well, we will obtain a good result.” Many within the squad feel that new coach Sven-Goran Eriksson has instilled a sense of organization and discipline to the team, two components that were sorely missing before his arrival. If the Elephants want a shot at defeating Brazil, their focus on the defensive side of the ball is how an upset has to occur.
What to Expect:
Brazil grew frustrated by the ultra-defensive tactics of the North Koreans in their opening game. They struggled to get by them and only managed two goals, in a match where most thought they’d be pushing for four or five. The Ivory Coast however aren’t North Korea and have a plethora of offensive weapons. With Didier Drogba healthy, it will put a strong Brazilian back-line on alert at all times.
Although much of the hype heading into the match is surrounding Drogba, the Ivory Coast remains aware that playing solid in their own end of the pitch will likely be the key to defeating the Brazilians. They will look to attack when the opportunity presents itself, yet the majority of their focus will be placed on protecting their own net. The Brazilians believe the Ivory Coast will attack with them and trade chances, those tactics would be unwise from Eriksson. A draw here would be a great result for the Elephants, and set them up well for their final group fixture against North Korea. However, it’s much easier said than done, and the strength of this Brazil side is their ability to emerge victorious in any type of match. Expect the Ivory Coast to play conservative and defensively in the opening stages of the match, with Brazil snagging victory in the latter stages.
Brazil vs Ivory Coast Prediction: Brazil 1 – Ivory Coast 0
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