Ivory Coast: Barry; Aurier, Zokora, K Toure, Boka; Tiote, Serey Die, Y Toure; Gervinho, Drogba (c), Kalou,
Man City’s Yaya Toure is still recovering from a hamstring injury and is a slight doubt for Saturday night’s game.
Japan: Kawashima; Uchida, Yoshida, Konno, Nagatomo; Endo (c), Yamaguchi; Okazaki, Honda, Kagawa; Katikani.
101GG Betting Tip:
Ivory Coast and Japan meet at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife for the second match of Group C, the most balanced one in the competition.
It’s the third tournament in a row in which the Ivory Coast will partake, but they have yet to progress to the knockout stages. Sabri Lamouchi’s side is filled with talent and experience, with the likes of Galatasaray’s Didier Drogba, Liverpool’s Kolo Toure, Lille’s Salomon Kalou, Roma’s Gervinho, and Man City’s Yaya Toure, although the latter is still a doubt for Saturday’s game with a hamstring injury.
While the Elephant’s squad’s vast talent and experience is indisputable, many of their key players are ageing, and not at their peak anymore, and it remains to be seen if they can keep up with Japan’s incredible pace.
Nueremberg’s Hiroshi Kiyotake, Man United’s Shinji Kagawa, Milan’s Keisuke Honda and Shinji Okazaki, are all eager to continue their nation’s good fortune against African teams: Two of Japan’s previous four World Cup wins have come in their only two previous meetings with African sides (2-0 v Tunisia in 2002 and 1-0 v Cameroon in 2010).
Both teams lack stability on defence, and despite their opposite style of football, are very balanced on paper. With that in mind expect a high scoring draw after 90 minutes.
101GG Prediction: Ivory Coast 2 – Japan 2
Some essential facts and stats to help with online betting:
Japan have won seven, drawn once, and lost twice in their last 10 fixtures.
Alberto Zaccheroni’s men are unbeaten in 6 matches, with their last defeat dating back to October of 2013 against Belarus (0:1).
Ivory Coast have won four times, drawn three times, and lost three times during their last 10 matches.
Didier Drogba has only had two shots on target in 384 minutes at the World Cup, with both ending up in the back of the net.
Keisuke Honda has been directly involved in three of Japan’s last four World Cup strikes (two goals, one assist).
Shinji Okazaki was the top scorer in the 2014 Asian World Cup qualifiers (8 goals). He is also the last Japanese player to net in the finals (against Denmark on 24 June 2010).
The Elephants were unbeaten in 2014 World Cup qualification, winning five and drawing three.
These sides have met three times before, all in friendlies; Japan won the first two 1-0, before Ivory Coast won 2-0 in the most recent meeting in 2010.
Ivory Coast are appearing in their third successive World Cup; Ghana are the only other current African side who can match this.