With Colombia designated as the seeded team in Group C, and the favourites in the eyes of many, the Ivory Coast, Japan and Greece will likely be left scrapping for second place. This makes the opening series incredibly important for the Elephants and the Blue Samurai.
Alberto Zaccheroni’s men will be looking to build on their encouraging showing at the Confederations Cup last summer (and to prove that Japan will bring more to this World Cup than poor officiating) by beginning the competition with a win.
Among Ivorians there is finally the conviction that the group draw gives them a chance of qualifying for the knockout stages. The Elephants have been eliminated in the opening stage in their first two appearances on the grandest world football stage of all, and they will look to make the last 16 this time around—it all needs to begin with victory over Japan.
This editorial presents the key battles and tactical issues that will shape the match on Saturday night in Recife.