Greece vs. Ivory Coast, 2014 World Cup preview: Everyone's still very alive

Warren Little

Colombia has advanced from Group C, but nothing else is certain.

SB Nation's 2014 World Cup Bracket'

Greece 2, Ivory Coast 1: Greece advances on a stoppage time penalty

Thanks to Greece's successful attempts to stop a soccer match in their encounter against Japan, they're still in with a chance to get out of Group C, which is a bit of a mess. Colombia have qualified, but the Ivory Coast still have work to do, and could be in trouble if Japan manage to pull a bit upset on Los Cafeteros.

For once, Greece have some incentive to attack, since they're last in the group on goal differential and will go out with a draw. But that hasn't stopped them from playing an ultra-defensive game in the past, so don't expect them to open and up and try to do soccer things just because it would be advantageous for them to do so.

Team news

Greece captain and Euro 2004 survivor Konstantinos Katsouranis was sent off in his team's last match, and is likely to be replaced by fellow veteran of that tournament Giorgios Karagounis. Kostas Mitroglou has been fighting for fitness all tournament, but will probably be given another chance to start up top.

The Ivory Coast have no injury concerns, but there are rumors floating around that Yaya Toure could be moved into a central midfield role so they can get more attackers onto the pitch. Yaya and his brother Kolo Toure are currently grieving after their brother died of cancer earlier in the week, but they are expected to start.

Projected lineups (left to right)

Greece (4-3-3): Orestis Karnezis; Jose Holebas, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Kostas Manolas, Vassilis Torosidis; Giorgios Karagounis, Giannis Maniatis, Panagoitis Kone; Giorgios Samaras, Kostas Mitroglou, Ionnas Fetfatzidis

Ivory Coast (4-2-3-1): Boubacar Barry; Arthur Boka, Sol Bamba, Didier Zokora, Serge Aurier; Cheik Tiote, Serey Die; Max Gradel, Yaya Toure, Gervinho; Wilfried Bony

Key matchups

I was going to pick something involving a Greece attacker, but that would have been disingenuous.

Panagoitis Kone vs. Yaya Toure - If the rumors are true and Toure really does move into a central midfield role -- and hey, why not, Greece won't be attacking -- he'll end up seeing a lot of Kone going in both directions. Kone actually does try to pass and/or run forward occasionally, so Toure won't be able to be an all-out attacking central midfielder. It'll be up to Kone to both slow him down going forward and produce some sort of an attacking threat.

Wilfried Bony vs. the lingering ghost of Didier Drogba - Didier Drogba won't play at another World Cup after this one, but he's still useful for the time being. Wilfried Bony is expected to continue the ushering in of a new era and start up top again, but he'll need to produce. Otherwise, the Ivory Coast will have to go back to the same well again. Eventually, Drogba's not going to be there. It's time for Bony to do something without him.

Prediction

Greece will do a Greece and it won't quite work. 1-0 Ivory Coast.

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