Didier Drogba will play, having his cast approved by FIFA and the match officials. As nice as that story is, unless Cote d'Ivoire can develop a tactic that can get goals from somebody beside Drogba, Portugal will likely provides another disappointing start to an African nation.
Drogba looks set to play, but he will go up against a defense the features Pepe, Ricardo Carvalho and Bruno Alves at its heart. Even for Didier Drogba, this is a tough match-up, and it will up to Salomon Kalou and Aruna Dindane to find goals elsewhere, something that will not be easy against a Portugal defense that allowed only five goals in ten qualifying matches before stymying a powerful Bosnia and Herzegovina in the UEFA playoffs.
Cote d'Ivoire has as much talent as Bosnia, but they lack the tactical accumen needed to break down Portugal. Or, better phrased, they have lacked the accumen, prior to Sven-Goran Eriksson's hiring. Eriksson is a proven club and international coach, but given only three weeks to turn around the fortunes of a flawed site, it may be asking too much for him to have a plan in place that will break down Portugal.
The lack of organization in attack is equally present at the back, where the Ivorians do not have a Drogba-like player to save them. There, they rely on Kolo Touré, who has had a subpar year for club and country. Against the likes of Deco, Raul Miereles, Simão and Liedson, Cote d'Ivoire will have to give one of their best defensive performances of the last two years in order to contain Portugal. And again, does Sven-Goran Eriksson's lack of time in the team hurt Cote d'Ivoire here.
All of this, and w have not discussed Cristiano Ronaldo. Against an Ivorian team that lacks exceptional wingers or fullbacks, Ronaldo should be able to pick the spots he wants to attack. When he gets fouled, he will get his chance with the Jabulani, with one of the tournament's worst keepers - Boubacar Barry - set to defend.
Portugal was not convincing in qualifying, but with their team mostly healthy have having solved their striker problem with the integration of Liedson, they are much stronger than their UEFA form hints. Carlos Queiroz still lacks the guile you want from a manager of such a talented team, but against a flawed Cote d'Ivoire side, Portugal matches-up well.