2014 WORLD CUP SOCCER
Kickoff: Saturday, 9:00 p.m. EDT
Arena Pernambuco – Recife, Brazil
Ivory Coast +145, Japan +175, Tie +207
Over/Under: 2.5 Goals (Over +145, Under -175)
Group C play of the 2014 World Cup continues on Saturday night when the Ivory Coast and Japan meet in a very even match.
A conveyor belt of attacking talent has rolled off Ivory Coast's production line over the past decade, and after finally landing in a conquerable World Cup group, Didier Drogba and company should start their journey to the last 16 with a victory over Japan.
Having failed to overcome Argentina, the Netherlands, Brazil and Portugal at the group stages of the last two World Cups, the Elephants have such a great chance of progressing in just their third appearance at the tournament. However, they must disrupt their first opponent's solid record in opening fixtures.
Japan limited Argentina to one goal on their World Cup debut in 1998, held Belgium 2-2 in 2002 and beat Cameroon 1-0 in 2010 as they made it beyond the group stage for the second time, having first managed the feat as hosts eight years earlier. After becoming the first team to confirm passage through qualifying for Brazil, Alberto Zaccheroni's side will be full of confidence against Ivory Coast, but could be in for a very rude awakening when they face a roster packed with proven quality.
Though they lost at home to Uzbekistan and away to Jordan, none of the nations that Japan met in qualifying contained any players to rival the likes of Manchester City's Yaya Toure, scorer of 20 Premier League goals this term for the English champions. Former Chelsea forwards Salomon Kalou and Drogba combined to down Senegal in their play-off, providing further evidence of the firepower at coach Sabri Lamouchi’s disposal. Put your wager on IVORY COAST for the straight-up win here.