Colombia vs. Ivory Coast: Tactical Preview of World Cup Group C Match

Sam TigheWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterJune 19, 2014

BELO HORIZONTE, BRAZIL - JUNE 14:  Abel Aguilar and James Rodriguez of Colombia celebrate the second goal during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group C match between Colombia and Greece at Estadio Mineirao on June 14, 2014 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Ian Walton/Getty Images

The first round of group-stage matches is in the books at the FIFA World Cup 2014, and now we turn our attention to the second lot.

Group C favourites Colombia smashed Greece in their opening match 3-0, affirming their status as top-dogs and taking control of the standings. Ivory Coast followed up with a comeback win over Japan, so this fixture pits the two front-runners for first place against one another.



Colombia turned up and started on the front foot in their first game, with Pablo Armero netting inside 10 minutes after wonderful work from Juan Guillermo Cuadrado on the right.

Jose Pekerman, a genius tactician, displayed right from the start that he'd thought long and hard about how to beat Greece, and it wasn't necessarily to clock up 70 percent possession and pass it sideways all game long.

Possible Colombia XI (Unchanged from Greece).
Possible Colombia XI (Unchanged from Greece).@stighefootball

Los Cafeteros took risks and hit it wide early and often, moving the ball quickly into overlapping players' paths and attempting to get around Greece's formation.

Ivory Coast won't be nearly as defensive or as well organised, so the match shapes up very well for James Rodriguez and Co.


Ivory Coast

Sabri Lamouchi's credentials were doubted pre-tournament, but he made two key tactical changes in the second half against Japan and led his team to a comeback victory.

First they switched to 3-5-2, then soon after introduced Didier Drogba in a 4-2-4, gung-ho system and pushed the full-backs right up. It worked, they scored two and they now stand a great chance of climbing out of a World Cup group for the first time ever.

Possible Ivory Coast XI.
Possible Ivory Coast XI.@stighefootball

"We will have to fight a bit more and be technically stronger," Lamouchi told "We need to make less mistakes and be more focused than we were against Japan."

He will be sweating on the fitness of Yaya Toure, but even if he doesn't make it, the approach won't change.

They're physical, fast, incisive and powerful. 


2 Tactical Clashes

1. Countering With 2

Colombia are notoriously hard to break down, and despite a weakness in central defence on paper, Mario Yepes and Cristian Zapata stood up superbly in the face of Greek counter-attacks.

Fernando Santos' men often worked the ball quickly to one side and drove forward, but Los Cafeteros are inherently difficult to counter against due to the deep nature of both holding midfielders.

One striker wasn't enough, but what about two? Ivory Coast sent on Drogba to partner Wilfried Bony against Japan, and together they tore Maya Yoshida and Masato Morishige apart.

Yepes and Zapata vs. Bony and Drogba—even if the former is in a deeper, No. 10-esque role—could be a delightful battle.


2. Behind the Full-backs

Whereas Colombia equip themselves superbly to cover when their full-backs bomb forward, Ivory Coast give it less thought.

Japan's first goal last Sunday came from working a strong opportunity down the left side, picking on Serge Aurier, moving it to Keisuke Honda and allowing him to do the rest.

Credit: Univision

The marauding nature of Aurier later became their strength as he bagged two assists in two minutes, but Los Cafeteros are far more efficient with the ball and, critically, have the personnel to get in behind.

Victor Ibarbo, Cuadrado, James and Co. will enjoy what the Elephants present them with.