Ivory Coast come into their final Group game against Greece knowing that a victory will be enough to see them through to the Round of 16 for the very first time. Even a defeat or draw would be enough to send them through, as long as Colombia don’t lose to Japan. For the Greeks however, the situation is a lot more complicated. Not only do they have beat Ivory Coast, but must also hope that Colombia don’t lose to Japan. All of which means that it is all set up for a thrilling finish to Group C as two relative under-dogs clash for a spot in the Round of 16 at the Estadio Castelao in Fortaleza on Tuesday.
The crucial Group C clash is set to take place at the Estadio Castelao in Fortaleza, which will see its final Group stage clash, before it hosts Sunday’s Round of 16 clash between Netherlands and Mexico. The current stadium was refurbished for the World Cup and is one of the biggest in the tournament with a seating capacity of over 60,000. All three previous clashes in the stadium saw upsets, with Costa Rica coming out winners in the opening game and Mexico and Ghana snatching a point against favourites Brazil and Germany. So, will this be another goal-filled upset victory for Greece?
June 25 – 1.30 am – Indian Standard Time (IST)
June 24 – 5.00 pm – Local Time
Possible Starting Line ups
With captain Konstantinos Katsouranis suspended after being sent off in Natal, 37-year-old Giorgos Karagounis is set to take his place in midfield in what could be his final game before international retirement. Kostas Manolas and Kostas Mitroglou, who were both withdrawn in the game against Japan clash have trained are expected to their place in the side, which is unlikely to see any further changes.
Greece (Possible, 4-4-2): Karnezis; Torosidis, Papasthathopoulos, Manolas, Holebas; Fetfatzidis, Karagounis, Maniatis, Kone; Samaras, Mitroglou.
Although they lost in the previous game against Colombia, coach Sabri Lamouchi is unlikely to make many wholesale changes to the side who are a win away from a famous Round of 16 clashes. One player who will definitely miss the game is the suspended Didier Zokora, who will be replaced by Kolo Toure.
Ivory Coast (4-3-3): Barry; Aurier, K Touré, Bamba, Boka; Tioté, Serey Die; Kalou, Y Touré, Gervinho; Bony.
How they will Line Up
Key Facts and Stats
- This will be the first ever meeting between Greece and Ivory Coast.
- In the World Cup, Greece have won one and lost the other game against African opposition. Both were against Nigeria and they lost 0-2 in 1994 and won 2-1 in 2010.
- Greece have only won one of their 8 games at World Cup (L6) and failed to score in seven of those, whilst keeping a clean sheet just once.
- Eight of Ivory Coast’s 12 goals at the World Cup have been scored after the 60th minute of games.
- Although Ivory Coast have scored in seven of their last eight World Cup games, they have conceded two or more goals in five of those clashes.
- With his goal against Colombia, Gervinho became the first Ivory Coast player to score in consecutive World Cup games.
- Five of Ivory Coast’s last nine World Cup goals have been headers.
Kostas Mitroglou vs Kolo Toure
Thanks to Zokora’s suspension, Kolo Toure will be playing in his first game of this World Cup just days after the death of his brother. He will come up against Greek striker Kostas Mitroglou, who has thus far failed to live up to his early season standards. If Greece are to get anything out of this game, Mitroglou has to get the better of Toure, whose concentration may not be entirely on the pitch. If Mirtoglou can get the better of him and score, it will give his side a fighting chance as Greece have time and again shown how effective they can be in shutting down games.
Yaya Toure vs Giorgos Karagounis
The clash pits together two very different creative midfielders. While Yaya Toure’s game is built on pace and power, Karagounis’ game is built on precision and technique. Whoever comes out on top in his clash of creative players, will likely decide the game for their side. If Yaya Toure is on song, this one isn’t even a contest. Unfortunately for Ivory Coast, he hasn’t turned in performances akin to the one he manages week in and week out for Manchester City. Still grieving about the death of his brother, one could be forgiven if he is off the pace against the Greeks. If he is, then Karagounis might just be the one take advantage. The veteran midfielder will be playing in his 138th game for his country and will be looking to sign out in style.
With so much at stake, neither side will go out all guns blazing in the first half. But as the game wears on, the importance of a victory might just make it an entertaining second half in which both sides will be looking to score and secure that all important victory that might just guarantee them a place in the Round of 16. Expect a game of few chances and one that is likely to be decided by the side that is more clinical. With the likes of Drogba, Bony and Gervinho Ivory Coast might just nick this one and go through.
Predicted Score line: Greece 0-1 Ivory Coast
Referee: Carlos Vera (ECU)
Assistant referee 1: Christian Lescano (ECU)
Assistant referee 2: Byron Romero (ECU)
Fourth official: Sandro Ricci (BRA)Published 24 Jun 2014, 17:55 IST