Group C continues with Colombia taking on Ivory Coast in a match where the winner will almost surely secure progression into the next round. Both sides won their opening fixture, with Colombia easing past Greece 3-0 and Ivory Coast coming from behind to defeat Japan 2-1. Should Colombia hope to be victorious in the Brazilian capital on Thursday, there are three things they must do.
Limit the Service from Serge Aurier
The Ivorian right back was responsible for providing crosses that led to both of his team’s goals against Japan. Throughout that match, Aurier looked threatening in attack, meaning that Los Cafeteros will look to limit his touches in attacking positions. This responsibility will likely fall to Victor Ibarbo, who plays on Colombia’s left side of midfield. He may have to curtail his attacking instincts in order to provide cover for left back Pablo Armero, who will hope to avoid being caught in 2 vs. 1 situations should Aurier overlap with Salomon Kalou ahead of him.
Stop Didier Drogba from Making an Impact
The veteran striker came off the bench and greatly influenced the match against Japan. Drogba’s presence alone causes a distraction to defenders, and though he may not start against Colombia, coach José Pékerman will have undoubtedly spent time in training on how to defend the 36-year-old. Central defenders Cristián Zapata and captain Mario Yepes, two years Drogba’s senior, will be responsible for mitigating his influence. When Drogba was brought on against Japan, he was paired up top with Wilfried Bony. Having to deal with two powerful strikers caused problems in Japan’s defense, and should the two combine against Colombia, similar problems may occur. However, if Yepes and Zapata are able to stifle the former Chelsea striker, the Ivory Coast attack will be considerably less dangerous.
Continue to Utilize James Rodríguez
Against Greece, the Monaco midfielder proved a menace throughout the match, and his fine performance was rounded off with a 90th minute goal. Deployed just behind the striker, Rodríguez will be up against Ivorian hard man Cheick Tioté. The Newcastle defensive midfielder had a dominant performance against Japan and will hope to be able to break up Colombia’s attack in a similar fashion. This may be the key battle in this match, and should Rodríguez come out on top, it is difficult to see any result other than a Colombian victory in front of the rapturous support from their travelling fans.