Brazil v Ivory Coast preview
Brazil head into their game against the Ivory Coast knowing victory will assure them of a place in the last 16
By Mike Barton
Last Updated: 20/06/10 6:57pm
Brazil head into their game against the Ivory Coast on Sunday knowing that victory will assure them of a place in the last 16 of the tournament.
The five-time champions did little to justify their tag as favourites in a 2-1 victory over North Korea, often struggling to create significant chances and star man Kaka failing to shine.
The Ivory Coast on the other hand will be looking to kick-start their tournament after playing out a turgid goalless draw with Portugal on Tuesday, but face a tough task to nullify the threat of a team with players such as Robinho and Maicon, who performed well against the Koreans in Johannesburg.
Sven Goran Eriksson's African side are arguably the finest of the continent's teams, and they will be relying on the fitness of star striker Didier Drogba to give them the cutting edge in attack.
Drogba has not recovered fully from the fractured arm he suffered before the tournament commenced and was only introduced as a second half substitute against the Portuguese.
Without the prolific Chelsea striker, Eriksson's team lacked the incision to penetrate the subdued Portuguese team, and Drogba will be vital to the cause if they are to claim a shock victory over their experienced opponents.
Eriksson of course has faced the South American side before, losing 2-1 at the quarter final stage with England to Ronaldinho's fortuitous free kick to put the Three Lions out of the tournament.
Point not enough
A point may not possibly be enough for his side however, with Portugal due to face the Koreans and favourites to come out victorious in their encounter the following day in Cape Town.
That result would leave qualification out of the Ivorians' hands should they not win, something their Swedish coach will be eager to avoid in a tournament that has seen the majority of favourites struggle to make their mark.
The Ivory Coast look likely to start Drogba despite his injury, but have no further worries ahead of the game.
Drogba will keep a protective cast on his arm after suffering the break in a challenge with Japan's Tulio Tanaka in a pre tournament friendly, but is able to play for the Elephants.
Brazil coach Dunga looks likely to stick with the same team that defeated North Korea, meaning misfiring players such as Kaka and Luis Fabiano will keep their place in the team despite underwhelming performances in the opening game.
Rumours among the Brazilian camp were that midfielder Gilberto Silva was struggling with an ankle injury, however the former Panathinaikos man took part in full training of Saturday, despite being replaced by Josue in the main team session the previous day.