Ivory Coast V Portugal Preview: Tuesday, 15th June (Group G)

14th June 2010 | World Cup Betting category: World Cup Previews & Predictions
World Cup Previews & Predictions

 

Ivory Coast V Portugal

Kick-off: Tuesday, 15th June – 15:00 GMT
Stadium: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Referee: Jorge Larrionda (Uruguay)
Group G

 

Ivory Coast

Sven Goran Eriksson has only been Ivory Coast manager for a matter of weeks and he’s already facing up to life without his powerhouse forward and inspirational leader, Didier Drogba. The Chelsea striker injured his arm during a pre-World Cup friendly win over Japan and despite successful surgery, Drogba won’t play any part against Portugal in their opener and probably won’t feature against North Korea or Brazil, either.

Before Drogba’s unfortunate injury, many were tipping the Ivory Coast to be Africa’s leading contender this summer, the team that would lay down the gauntlet despite being dropped slap bang in the middle of the toughest group in the tournament alongside North Korea, Portugal and five-time winners Brazil. With Portugal, who they take on in their opening group encounter, currently not at their best, some would say out-of-sorts, Ivory Coast were looking good to make the knock-outs at the second attempt, with their first being a failure four years ago in Germany when once again they were drawn in the ‘Group of Death’. However, back then they lacked any big time experience, certainly not at World Cup level, and they will have learnt a lot from their time at Germany 2006 and were fancied to go one better this time around.

The big question now is, can Les Elephants take the strides forward needed to keep the hopes of the continent alive without their superstar forward? It will be difficult, there’s no doubt about that, but it’s not as if Eriksson doesn’t have some worthy replacements in his 23-man squad. Of course, it goes without saying that someone of Drogba calibre, a player with immense talent and an idol in Africa, will be sorely missed and their chances of becoming the first African country to win a World Cup will have decreased significantly, but Eriksson can at least replace the strength and superb hold up play of Drogba with out-an-out pace. Both Aruna Dindane and Gervinho are usually deployed as wingers but could be asked to play more central, as could Drogba’s Chelsea team-mate Kalou, so all is not lost.

In no which way are we saying the Ivory Coast not going to miss Drogba because they will, sorely, but this Portugal defence isn’t the quickest and isn’t the most agile and with the pace of Gervinho, Kalou and Dindane in the final third, Ivory Coast will find some level of success in the Portugal defensive third. Our actual concerns arise with their midfield in that there are too many reserved individuals in that crucial area, with Didier Zokora expected to partner Yaya Toure, both of whom are defensive-midfielders by trade, in the centre of the park. One reason for having two backwards midfielders is to allow their full-backs of Eboue and Toure to bomb forward and double up in attack. It will be a case of getting the balance right and if Ivory Coast get it spot on then a perfect start could be in order.

 

Portugal

Portugal have generally been prominent in the betting rings before previous major tournaments and have justified their popular stance with punters with some prosperous runs in recent competitions. The Portuguese finished as runners up in EURO 2004 and then made the quarter’s four years later, while they conjured a fourth place finish at Germany 2006, so no-one can dare say the Portuguese have shown some level of consistency in recent years. That wasn’t until their shaky qualifying campaign really did put the cat amongst the pigeons and there are now serious doubts over Portugal’s credentials to qualify from their group let alone win the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

Carlos Queiroz left his assistant post at Manchester United to become the manager of his country, the dream job for any aspiring coach, but the former Alex Ferguson sidekick hasn’t had the dreamy start to his reign made back home were hoping. Portugal needed two narrow victories over Bosnia & Herzegovina to be certain of a ticket to South Africa, that coming after a late rally from the Portuguese ensured they snapped up second spot in Group A even though automatic qualification was the goal beforehand. One point proved the difference come the end as Portugal sneaked into second at Sweden’s expense while two goals were just enough to see them edge past Bosnia in the play-off, Carlos Queiroz will be praying 3 will be Portugal’s magic number when they take on the Ivory Coast in Port Elizabeth.

Their route to the finals has been shaky, player performances have dropped significantly while the country just doesn’t seem to have that air or arrogance and self-confidence they had four years ago when they beat Holland and England on the way to reaching the semi’s. However, just one brief glance through their list of 23 players chosen by the coach, who will be feeling the strain after that infamous torrid qualifying campaign, and you’ll see a host of talented players, some of which are well renowned world-beaters. The most formidable of them is the 2009 FIFA World Player of the Year himself, the one and only Cristiano Ronaldo, who only boast the small matter of being the most valuable footballer ever after Real Madrid shelled out £80 million for the former Man Utd superstar. Need we say any more?

Portugal aren’t a one man team, although by the same token they aren’t quite the same with a one Mr. Ronaldo in it. Their defence boast an abundance of valuable European knowledge, the sort of knowledge that should serve them well against the bigger nations, and the level of creativity in the Portugal squad isn’t all bad, with Simao, Raul Meireles and Deco all pivotal in the Portugal midfield cog. Of course, considering Portugal’s biggest problems during qualifying was sticking the ball in the net, there will be huge amounts of pressure piled onto Ronaldo, not that he will be bothered in the slightest, coolness personified is a characteristics which accompanies this man. With Brazilian born Liedson yet to bare any fruit and Huge Almedia a last resort type of striker, Ronaldo’s attacking flair and ambitious forward attitude are crucial to Portugal’s chances of escaping South Africa’s ‘Group of Death’.

 

Match Odds:

Ivory Coast – 3.60 totesport
Draw – 3.30 BetFred
Portugal – 2.30 Bet365

 

Our Prediction: Portugal to WIN – 2.30 Bet365

Ronaldo has never really come to the fort for Portugal and shown the sort of brilliance which has seen him collect hundreds of personal accolades. While he may be talented, the former World Player of the Year and the player with the largest price tag upon his shoulders, he won’t be remember as a true great unless he does something major on the international scene. He has a chance to shine in South Africa, he could actually be the player which carries the entire nation to success if he brings his game to the finals. If he does, Ivory Coast, who are without a player just as key to them as Ronaldo is to Portugal, will be in deep trouble. An on song Ronaldo, one at the peak of his game, is unstoppable and unless he fails to turn up, which has been a regular occurrence in recent times, we don’t see Portugal failing to beat a less potent Les Elephants.

Our Recommended Bet: Cristiano Ronaldo to Score a Hat-Trick – 51.00 Bet365




Read the latest world cup news:
Football World Cup News
Prince Ali Al-Hussein even money favourite to win FIFA election
World Cup Betting & Odds
England 25/1 to bank 100% World Cup 2018 qualification campaign
World Cup Betting & Odds
CONMEBOL World Cup 2018 Qualification Begins
Football World Cup News
Platinti to face challenge from Prince Ali for FIFA Presidency
Football World Cup News
Will there still be venue changes for 2018 and 2022 World Cups?
Football World Cup News
Three England Lionesses make World Cup All Stars Squad
Football World Cup News
Platini stands as favourite for FIFA Presidency
World Cup Betting & Odds
England faces Scotland in World Cup 2018 qualifiers


World Cup Betting's Top 5 Online Bookmakers
Bet365 Logo Bet365 £200 Bonus www.bet365.com
William Hill William Hill £25 Bonus www.williamhill.com
Paddy Power Logo Paddy Power £50 Bonus www.paddypower.com
Sportingbet Logo Sportingbet £25 Bonus www.sportingbet.com
Coral Logo Coral £20 Bonus www.coral.com