Ivory Coast vs Portugal – resolute Portugal can edge key clash
Group G explodes into action with what could prove to be a play-off for second round qualification, when Ivory Coast meet Portugal at 3pm on Tuesday.
Ivory Coast are still clinging to the hope that their talismanic striker Didier Drogba can recover Lazarus-like from a broken elbow to lead their attack.
Drogba has had “successful” surgery on the injury and he is enticingly priced at 9/2 to complete his resurrection by scoring first in this match.
Having initially struggled during World Cup qualification, Portugal are now a team in excellent form as they have 12 wins and four draws from their last 16 matches.
Ivory Coast are also in good nick, with 12 wins in their latest 19 fixtures, and this tie seems destined to be absorbingly tight.
Portugal’s unexpected trump card, however, could be their defence. They have only conceded two goals in their last nine internationals, and with Real Madrid centre-back Pepe fit again, they will be a force at the back.
Carlos Queiroz’s Portugal are seen as outsiders for the World Cup at 25/1, despite being third in FIFA’s rankings.
With 9/2 World Cup contenders Brazil expected to win Group G and North Korea destined to be the whipping boys, this fixture should decide who joins the South Americans in the last 16.