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Group C - Greece v Ivory Coast & Columbia v Japan.

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14 JUN 2014 Columbia v Greece 5pmsm_bbc1hd.gif


15 JUN 2014 Ivory Coast v Japan 2am  :| sm_itv1hd.gif


19 JUN 2014 Columbia v Ivory Coast 5pm sm_bbc1hd.gif


19 JUN 2014 Japan v Greece 11pm sm_bbc1hd.gif


24 JUN 2014 Japan v Columbia/Greece v Ivory Coast 9pm sm_bbc1hd.gif




col.pngColumbia: 4 Apps, 0 wins.




gre.pngGreece: 2 Apps, 0 wins.

Goalkeepers: Orestis Karnezis (Granada), Panagiotis Glykos (PAOK), Stefanos Kapino (Panathinaikos)


Defenders: Kostas Manolas, Jose Holebas (both Olympiakos), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Borussia Dortmund), Vangelis Moras (Verona), Giorgos Tzavellas (PAOK), Loukas Vyntra (Levante), Vasilis Torosidis (Roma)


Midfielders: Alexandros Tziolis (Kayserispor), Andreas Samaris, Giannis Maniatis (both Olympiakos), Kostas Katsouranis (PAOK), Giorgos Karagounis (Fulham), Panagiotis Tachtsidis (Torino), Giannis Fetfatzidis (Genoa), Lazaros Christodoulopoulos, Panagiotis Kone (both Bologna)


Forwards: Dimitris Salpingidis (PAOK), Giorgos Samaras (Celtic), Kostas Mitroglou (Fulham), Fanis Gekas (Konyaspor)


jpn.pngJapan: 4 Apps, 0 wins.

Goalkeepers: Eiji Kawashima (Standard Liege), Shusaku Nishikawa (Urawa Reds), Shuichi Gonda (FC Tokyo)


Defenders: Masahiko Inoha (Jubilo Iwata), Yasuyuki Konno (Gamba Osaka), Yuto Nagatomo (Inter Milan), Masato Morishige (FC Tokyo), Atsuto Uchida (Schalke), Maya Yoshida (Southampton), Hiroki Sakai (Hannover), Gotoku Sakai (Stuttgart)


Midfielders: Yasuhito Endo (Gamba Osaka), Makoto Hasebe (Nuremberg), Toshihiro Aoyama (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), Hotaru Yamaguchi (Cerezo Osaka)


Forwards: Keisuke Honda (AC Milan), Yoshito Okubo (Kawasaki Frontale), Shinji Okazaki (Mainz), Shinji Kagawa (Manchester United), Hiroshi Kiyotake (Nuremberg), Yoichiro Kakitani (Cerezo Osaka), Manabu Saito (Yokohama F Marinos), Yuya Osako (1860 Munich)


civ.pngIvory Coast: 2 Apps, 0 wins.

Goalkeepers: Boubacar Barry (Lokeren), Sylvain Gbohouo (Sewe Sport), Sayouba Mande (Stabaek)


Defenders: Jean-Daniel Akpa Akpro (Toulouse), Serge Aurier (Toulouse), Souleyman Bamba (Trabzonspor), Arthur Boka (VfB Stuttgart), Viera Diarrassouba (Caykur Rizespor), Constant Djakpa (Eintracht Frankfurt), Kolo Toure (Liverpool), Didier Zokora (Trabzonspor)


Midfielders: Geoffroy Serey Die (Basel), Ismael Diomande (St Etienne), Max Gradel (St Etienne), Cheick Tiote (Newcastle United), Yaya Toure (Manchester City), Didier Ya Konan (Hannover 96)


Forwards: Mathis Bolly (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Wilfried Bony (Swansea City), Didier Drogba (Galatasaray), Gervinho (AS Roma), Salomon Kalou (Lille), Giovanni Sio (Basel).

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After taking the tough decision José Pékerman called it “the saddest day I’ve had since becoming Colombia coach”.


Colombia, who are appearing in their first finals for 16 years and will face Greece, Ivory Coast and Japan in Group C, also announced that the injured defender Luis Amaranto Perea and another forward, Luis Muriel, have been cut from the squad.


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Greece is going to f*ck Colombia up! We're gonna rape you...


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Japan: good between the boxes

June 9, 2014


If this World Cup becomes a disappointingly defensive tournament with few sides playing proactively, Japan will be one of the sides praised for bucking the trend.

While Japan don’t always collect good results, they boast great technical quality in the midfield zone. The two most famous stars are Shinji Kagawa and Keisuke Honda, but arguably more important to Japan’s style of play are the two holding midfielders. While their partnership has sometimes been broken up in recent matches, the combination of Yashuito Endo and Makoto Hasebe has proved highly effective over the last few years, and this Japan side are capable of controlling matches against top-class opposition.

The problem is at either end, where Japan are guilty of needless defensive errors and wasteful shooting upfront, and there’s also the lack of physicality that has caused them problems at previous World Cups. However, they have a wily tactician in Alberto Zaccheroni, a man who famously insisted upon 3-4-3 wherever he went in Italy, but generally favours a standard 4-2-3-1 formation with Japan. His side plays at high intensity, even in friendly matches, although there’s a question mark about whether this will be possible in Brazil – they have a difficult schedule in hot conditions.

Midfield quality

Hasebe and Endo are a joy to watch. Both are excellent in possession although they play different roles – Hasebe is a holding midfielder who uses the ball extremely intelligently, spreading play to the flanks but also capable of penetrative through-balls for attackers. Endo, now 34, isn’t as mobile as he once was, but is quicker and more sudden with his movements and passing. There’s a chance Hotaru Yamaguchi could come into the side, however, primarily because he offers great energy.

Honda and Kagawa are both inconsistent performers, but are good at taking the ball on the run and driving towards goal before playing clever passes. Honda has played as a false nine, although he’ll probably start in the number ten role. Kagawa generally comes into play higher up the pitch, and he’s best when receiving possession between the lines with only the last line of defence to beat, producing either a pass or a quick burst of speed.


Japan's possible starting XI

Japan are at their most creative when Zaccheroni includes Hiroshi Kiyotake, too. He’s broadly considered similar to Honda and, in particular Kagawa. A lively, mobile player who gets on the ball whenever possible and attempts ambitious passes, his main shortcoming is the lack of a goal threat, especially when compared to Honda and Kagawa, who boast fine scoring records for Japan.


That’s why Kiyotake probably won’t be used, because Zaccheroni knows the side lacks a clinical finisher, and therefore needs goalscoring potential from his attacking midfielders.

Therefore, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Shinji Okazaki fielded from the right flank, despite the fact he seems Japan’s best striker. His goalscoring rate at club level exploded this season, scoring 15 in 32 Bundesliga games for Mainz, having managed just ten goals in his previous two and a half campaigns combined. He’s a simple player, but works extremely hard and makes runs in behind the defence – maybe comparable to the way Pedro Rodriguez offers penetration when his teammates are keeping the ball relentlessly.

Yuya Osako seems likely to play upfront – his movement is good, although he looks lightweight and might not act as a reliable penalty box presence. It’s not clear what Zaccheroni is seeking from his frontman – a proper goalscorer, or someone capable of holding up the ball and bringing others into play. In truth, that’s probably because he doesn’t have a perfect player for either option – Yoichiro Kakitani seems a decent cross between the two roles, however.

It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Zaccheroni turn away from Osako if he doesn’t perform. He can use Okazaki upfront, or Honda as a false nine, and might even consider turning back to his favoured 3-4-3, which he’s tried in friendlies and in the 2011 Asian Cup. Again, that would basically involve Honda going upfront and another centre-back coming into the side.


The centre-backs aren’t entirely convincing either. Maya Yoshida hasn’t played much for Southampton this season, but he’s improved massively since his first few Premier League games, where he looked extraordinarily out of his depth. His positioning is good and he reads the game well, although he isn’t the best in the air. His partner should be Yasuyuki Konno, who is tidy enough in possession but not remotely commanding defensively, and is probably the side’s weak link.

It’s better news at full-back, though – Yuto Nagatomo and Atsuto Uchida are both brilliant. Nagatomo has tremendous energy and is brilliant in possession too, always collecting the ball on the run, taking on opponents with twists and turns and then sending crosses into the box – he can play the ball with either foot. Right-sided Uchida is less cultured but a similarly dangerous attacking threat, and more straightforward – he whips it into the box quickly. These two are really good footballers, and will ask questions of opposition wingers.


Aesthetically, Japan are a good side. They boast exciting playmakers, intelligent central midfielders and two really likeable, positive full-backs who scamper up and down the touchlines. If the aim of football was to dominate possession and get the ball into the final third, Japan would be perfect.

But the aim, of course, is to score more goals than you concede, and this is where Japan fall down. They’re not clinical enough, and they’re not resilient enough. Zaccheroni is a good manager and Japan will be well organised, but they probably won’t collect the results their dominance would suggest.

Quick guide

Coach: Alberto Zaccheroni. Former Serie A winner who took Japan to the Asian Cup in 2011. Very intelligent tactician capable of making game-changing substitutions.

Formation: 4-2-3-1, although Zaccheroni has a long-standing obsession with 3-4-3

Key player: Japan need someone who can score goals, and Okazaki can score goals.

Strength: In a purely technical sense, Japan are arguably in the top ten sides at this competition

Weakness: Basically, they’re poor in both penalty boxes

Key tactical question: Does Japan’s possession play hide their weaknesses?


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Ivory Coast: need individual magic

June 9, 2014


The Ivory Coast’s appointment of Sabri Lamouchi as coach in 2012 still feels extremely strange. The former France international had no link to the country – which isn’t particularly unusual, especially for big African nations – but he didn’t have any previous managerial experience either.

It’s difficult to think of another big nation that has appointed a completely inexperienced foreigner as coach, and it remains difficult to deduce Lamouchi’s managerial style. The Ivory Coast were hugely unimpressive at last year’s Africa Cup of Nations, struggling through the group stage thanks to same late goals, before being defeated at the quarter-final stage by Nigeria. Lamouchi’s plan is clear: 4-3-3, with Yaya Toure given plenty of license to break forward, but the side doesn’t seem particularly cohesive.

This is probably the last chance for this ‘golden generation’ to achieve something tangible. The Ivory Coast’s inability to win an Africa Cup of Nations with this squad, or to progress from the World Cup group stage, should be considered a huge failure. At least they’ve finally been drawn in a decent World Cup group, and while Drogba isn’t player of three years ago, others have enjoyed fine club seasons, and the Ivory Coast should be dangerous on the break.

Strength in depth upfront

The Ivorians’ gameplan in recent years has been straightforward, based around flying wingers and Drogba as the central striker. In that respect, little has changed, and while Drogba seems on his last legs and Wilfried Bony is maybe a better option because of his ability to run the channels more energetically, Drogba is the captain and the leader of the side, and his place is assured. At 36 he lacks the pace of his younger years and has become more of a target man – but it’s difficult to see who will be providing the crosses. However, it’s arguable that Drogba’s link-up play has improved, and he’s happier coming towards play before trying to slip the ball through the defence.


The Ivory Coast's probable XI

On the flanks, two other ex-Premier League players will start. While both were often mocked in the Premier League, both are significant goal threats and are given license to get forward and beyond Drogba. The main danger is Gervinho, who has been absolutely magnificent at Roma under his old Lille coach Rudi Garcia, providing intelligent running, tricky dribbling and now an end product too. He’s still highly unpredictable in front of goal, but will be lively. On the other side, Kalou always seems to offer little threat, but pops up in the box with important goals.


At the 2010 World Cup, one of Sven-Goran Eriksson’s errors was fielding Yaya Toure in a deep midfield role, rather than at the top of the triangle. Although that was the position he’d become accustomed to for Barcelona, the Ivory Coast had plenty of players capable of scrapping in midfield, and needed Toure higher up in the role he’d played in his early days in European football.

The Ivory Coast looked increasingly more dangerous at the subsequent Africa Cup of Nations tournaments, when Toure was higher up the pitch, and following his superb goalscoring form for Manchester City this season, there’s no doubt about his position. He’s the most advanced of the midfield three, although it still feels more like a 4-3-3 than a 4-2-3-1, because the wide players aren’t dropping back to form a second bank of four.

Deep in midfield is Cheick Tiote, a pure scrapper who offers energy and over-zealous challenges, but little on the ball. The question for Lamouchi is who he should deploy as the third central midfielder. Didier Zokora, Ismael Diomande and Serey Die are all standard defensive midfielders, and will leave the attacking to Toure. Max Gradel, a pacey dribbler, has been tried in the midfield trio but is surely a replacement, rather than a partner, for Toure.


The full-backs bomb forward enthusiastically, with right-sided Serge Aurier a much better crosser than Arthur Boka. They push on simultaneously, with the two holding midfielders covering for them. There’s a real concern about the two full-backs defensively, however, because both are small, especially Boka, and the Ivorians could be vulnerable to deep crosses.

The centre-backs are also a worry. Kolo Toure and Sol Bamba have always appeared nervous together, even in Africa Cup of Nations matches against weak opposition. Both are prone to silly errors and this combination now lacks pace, something Toure used to guarantee. Veteran Boubacar Barry is a decent goalkeeper, although more notable for being comfortable on the ball than a great shotstopper.


The Ivory Coast are doing pretty much what they’ve always done, but this time around Lamouchi doesn’t appear a great organiser or a great tactician, and it’s hard to imagine them keeping many clean sheets with this centre-back pairing.

However, the Ivory Coast do possess individual quality, and for once they’re not relying on Drogba. Instead, Gervinho and Toure will lead the fight. Both specialise at powering forward from deep positions, and if the Ivory Coast can get their transitions right and feed these players quickly, they might do some damage.

Quick guide

Coach: Sabri Lamouchi. Highly inexperienced, and difficult to understand his specialism

Formation: 4-3-3, with Toure given freedom to break forward

Key player: Gervinho will have a few promising moments on the edge of the opposition box, but will he take the right option?

Strength: Gervinho and Toure’s dribbling quality on the break

Weakness: A poor defence – the centre-backs lack pace, the full-backs lack height

Key tactical question: Can they get the ball to Gervinho and Toure quickly?

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Greece: ten years on, a similar approach

June 9, 2014


It’s now ten years since Greece shocked Europe by triumphing at Euro 2004, with three consecutive 1-0 knockout victories against the holders, the best team, and then the hosts.

It was a genuinely remarkable victory, perhaps the greatest upset in the history of international football, and it feels like Greece are attempting to replicate that formula. From their ten qualification group games, they recorded five 1-0 victories – although they opened up more in the play-off win against Romania.

Coach Fernando Santos has become more adventurous but this remains a defensive side, based around two combative, all-action centre-backs and disciplined central midfielders. Greece will attempt to keep clean sheets, and hope to get lucky, or score from a set-piece, at the other end. It’s worked before…

This XI is largely unchanged from two years ago, where they surprisingly reached the knockout stage of Euro 2012. On the basis of that tournament, their greatest strength is their adaptability and their willingness to vary their approach against different opponents. That will be crucial considering the hugely diverse composition of their group – Colombia, Japan and the Ivory Coast all boast completely different styles. Santos also has a reputation for making excellent substitutions, particularly at half-time – again, this was obvious at Euro 2012.

Solid down the spine

Eight clean sheets from ten qualifying group games underlines what Greece are about, and while they defend well as an overall unit, they also boast two fine centre-backs. Kostas Manolas is an aggressive defender who gets tight to opponents, and after a good season with Olympiakos, has emerged as the obvious partner for Dortmund’s Sokratis Papastathopoulos, another solid, no-nonsense player. They’re happy playing reasonably high up the pitch, and this Greek side certainly won’t defend as deep as during Euro 2004, although they might vary this depending upon the identity of the opposition.

The centre-backs receive extra protection from Alexandros Tzilois, who won’t attack, won’t create and won’t score. He’s amongst the most defensive-minded midfielders in this competition, and feels more like a third centre-back at times. He usually knocks the ball out to the full-backs.


Greece's probable XI

Ahead of him will be Konstantinos Katsouranis, a player comfortable at centre-back, and Giannis Maniatis, a former right-back. That underlines how cautious Greece will be in the centre of the pitch, although these players are slightly more ambitious than these positional characteristics would suggest.

They play very different roles: Katsouranis, a survivor of the Euro 2004 side, wants to get on the ball and increase the tempo of the passing, while Maniatis concentrates on getting up and down, and bringing some much-needed mobility to the central midfield zone.

Highly aggressive full-backs

Perhaps the most distinctive feature of the Greek side is the adventurousness of the two full-backs, something which was also obvious back in Euro 2004. Incidentally, the excellent attacking left-back from that success, Takis Fyssas, is now the technical director of the side.

His old left-back role is now taken by Jose Holebas, a full-back who is frankly far too attack-minded for his own good. His sudden sprints down the touchline can catch out opponents, but when Greece’s passing moves break down, he’s almost always out of position. Maniatis has been playing to the left of the midfield trio in warm-up matches (despite being a natural right-back), probably to cover for him.

On the opposite side, Vasilis Torosidis is more cautious – but only just. After all, this was a player recruited by Zdenak Zeman, the most attacking coach around, for his Roma side, which underlines his determination to overlap. Still, while the full-backs certainly take risks, the caution of the midfield trio means this is vital in moving Greece up the pitch.

Varied front trio

The front three play different roles. The hero of the play-off win was Kostas Mitroglou, who hit three goals, but it’s difficult to judge whether he’ll repeat these heroics, having spent a peculiar half-season barely getting into the Fulham 18-man squad. He’s presumably lacking match sharpness, and while a fine finisher, needs chances put on a plate. This is problematic, as it’s not immediately clear where the creativity in this side comes from.

On the left is Georgios Samaras, one of the most confusing players in the competition. Considered a striker at the start of his career, Samaras’ international goalscoring record is truly terrible – 8 in 74, including 0 in 10 during qualification. He plays an odd role on the left, playing surprisingly deep, but bringing his centre-forward qualities to that position by relentlessly coming short and holding up the ball, which is usually followed by him either being dispossessed, or playing an unambitious backwards pass. Santos seems to love him, and his role vaguely makes sense when you consider Maniatis and Holebas’ tendency to sprint forward.

It also works considering right-sided Dimitris Salpingidis is the precise opposite player – a wide forward who buzzes around and makes runs in behind the defence. He scored two at Euro 2012, four in qualification, and if Greece are at their most boring and defensive, he’ll be the one trying to make things happen.

Alternatives are plentiful. One is veteran centre-forward Theo Gekas, who is past his best, but more interestingly there are players like diminutive dribbler Giannis Fetfatzidis, versatile runner Lazaros Christodoulopoulos, combative attacking midfielder Panagiotis Kone and jack-of-all-trades Panagiotis Tachtsidis. They all offer energy, energy and more energy, and Santos will introduce them to provide an extra burst in the second half. This will be crucial, as Greece have a difficult schedule and some matches likely to be played at high temperatures.


Greece will be better than the majority of neutrals hope. They keep clean sheets, they’re highly physical, and they’re compact and organised.

It’s tough to see where the excitement will come from, but Greece could be the type of side who make the second round despite scoring only a couple of goals in the group stage.

Coach: Fernando Santos. In his last tournament as Greece coach – he’s a good tactician, and his players work hard for him.

Formation: 4-3-3, with the full-backs pushing on past the midfield

Key player: Salpingidis – without him, the attack is extremely immobile.

Strength: The organisation of the entire side

Weakness: Not one player in the starting XI is even vaguely creative

Key tactical question: Can Greece maximise set-piece opportunities?


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Colombia: absences to prompt tactical re-think?

June 9, 2014


Colombia are the South American equivalent of Belgium – after being absent for a few World Cups, they’ve suddenly turned up with some brilliant footballers, especially in attacking positions.

Much like Belgium, however, they’re forced to cope without their star centre-forward. Radamel Falcao’s absence had been suspected since January but was only confirmed a fortnight before the start of the tournament. With key central midfielder Edwin Valencia suffering an injury in a warm-up match and veteran centre-back Luis Perea deemed unfit, the spine of Colombia’s side is entirely up for question.

The main issue is upfront. While Falcao was unquestionably Colombia’s best striker, they still have great options upfront – Porto’s Jackson Martinez, Sevilla’s Carlos Bacca, River Plate’s Teo Gutierrez and Dortmund-bound Adrian Ramos are all genuinely exciting strikers, and differ in style too. These options mean Pekerman generally played a 4-4-2 throughout qualification, with one of these players (usually Gutierrez) alongside Falcao. With four options to choose from, Colombia can certainly continue playing 4-4-2 / 4-2-2-2.


Falcao’s absence might change things, however. His role for the national side was strange – sometimes, like at the Copa America in 2011, he was overly keen to become involved in link-up play, but didn’t do it very well. Other times, he stayed upfront and seemed distant from the rest of the side. While a brilliant goalscorer, Falcao wasn’t particularly good at linking play and providing the attacking midfielders with service, and it’s not too much of an exaggeration to suggest Colombia might play better without him. The example of Atletico Madrid this season, after his departure backs up this feeling. Bacca, for example, isn’t anywhere near as good at finishing, but holds the ball up excellently for attacking midfielders.


Possible Colombia XI

This is another area where Colombia have great strength in depth, and Pekerman might decide he’s better off bringing James Rodriguez inside to play in the number ten position in a 4-2-3-1, with a runner like Victor Ibarbo on the left. Or he could field James on the left, and field the tiny but wonderfully talented Juan Quintero, a proper number ten with a great left foot.

This would bring more structure to Colombia’s side, but it would mean omitting one of their talented forwards. It’s a tricky decision for Pekerman, and there’s a good chance Colombia will switch between 4-2-3-1 and 4-4-2 throughout this competition, according to the circumstances of the game.


In the 4-4-2, Colombia’s main strength is down the flanks, although it’s the attacking instincts of these players that makes Pekerman so worried about the structure. On paper, Rodriguez from the left and Cuadrado from the right brings perfect balance: James drifts inside and becomes a playmaker, capable of dominating a game and providing outrageous creative moments from between the lines.

Cuadrado is a direct winger who was once guilty of overdoing his tricks, but has become a cool, efficient and ruthless goalscorer at Fiorentina. From a neutral’s perspective, it would be fantastic to see Rodriguez and Cuadrado two on the wings, alongside two proper strikers, but Pekerman is always more cautious than you wish.

Colombia also have fine attacking full-backs. Pablo Armero is better as a wing-back than a pure full-back, and there are questions about his defensive ability, but he charges forward dangerously with possession. Juan Zuniga, his Napoli teammate and therefore also accustomed to a wing-back role, offers something similar from the right. The problem, however, is that they leave the defence exposed when they bomb forward.

Inevitably this means Pekerman is defensive in the centre of midfield, which is why Inter’s rampaging Fredy Guarin doesn’t see much action. Valencia’s absence means Pekerman can’t field two pure scrappers, however, so Colombia will use Carlos Sanchez as the primary holder. He doesn’t contribute much aside from good positioning and aggressive tackling, in a role similar to that played by Javier Mascherano for Argentina. The other midfielder, Abel Aguilar, will be given more freedom to move forward.


Again, without being harsh, Perea’s injury might be a good thing for Colombia. He’s solid in the air, but is now 35 and alongside the extremely slow Mario Yepes, 38, Colombia were asking for trouble in the channels, especially with two attacking full-backs. Cristian Zapata seems the obvious option but his club career has stalled and Pekerman isn’t a big fan, so Carles Valdes will play instead.

In goal, David Ospina had a good season for a poor Nice side. Back-up Faryd Mondragon is, amazingly, a survivor of World Cup 1994 and would become the World Cup’s oldest ever player, although he’s unlikely to be used.

Colombia will attempt to keep possession and will probably press more intensely than the majority of sides, although this could put the centre-backs – particularly Yepes – in danger if forced to defend too high up. Indeed, a related concern is the fact Colombia leave too much space between the lines, which might be more of a problem with a less secure midfield than Pekerman intended.


Colombia are highly unpredictable, partly because it’s difficult to predict how they’ll play in the final third, but also because there are question marks about the defence, especially against teams that excel at attacking transitions. Colombia could be exposed in the channels.

Colombia will probably produce at least one excellent performance, and individuals could shine – Cuadrado is the best bet – but there are too many question marks about the backbone of the side.

Quick guide

Coach: Jose Pekerman, former Argentina coach arguably most famous for taking off Riquelme in the quarter-final of 2006

Formation: 4-2-2-2 is their natural shape, though it could be 4-2-3-1, or even a back three

Key player: Cuadrado provides the width

Strength: Great options upfront

Weakness: Questionable defensively

Key tactical question: How many strikers does Pekerman play?

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in response to last nights game





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Ibrahim Toure, the younger brother of Premier League-based Ivory Coast duo Yaya and Kolo Toure, has died aged 28, according to the country’s football association.

Ibrahim was also a professional footballer, playing as a striker for clubs including Egypt's Misr El-Maqasah and Lebanese side Al Safa.

In a statement released on Friday, the Ivory Coast Football Association pledged its full support to the Toure family.

The statement read: “Kolo and Yaya Toure just heard about the death of their young brother, Toure Oyala Ibrahim. The entire Ivorian delegation want to show their support to the players.

“The football Ivory Coast federation president (FIF) and the Executive Committee announced to the entire family of Ivorian football the death of Toure Oyala Ibrahim, the younger brother of Toure Kolo Abib and Toure Yaya Gnegneri, which happened on the 19th of June in Manchester (England).

“In such a sad situation, the players from the Ivory Coast national team, and the entire delegation here in Brazil, show their support to the Toure brothers and their whole family. The president of Football Ivory Coast Federation and the Executive Comitee ask Ivorians for their prayers.”

The Ivory Coast currently lie second in World Cup Group C and face Greece in Fortaleza on Tuesday.




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