2010 FIFA World Cup: Is Group G Still Group of Death If Drogba Can't Go?

Ron FurlongAnalyst IIJune 5, 2010

SION, SWITZERLAND - JUNE 04:  Didier Drogba of the Ivory Coast looks on during the Japan v Ivory Coast International Friendly match at Stade de Toubillon on June 4, 2010 in Sion, Switzerland.  (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

If indeed Didier Drogba is unable to go for the Ivory Coast because of his broken arm, what does that do to the Group of Death?

Does the removal of one player, even a player as great as Drogba, really eliminate this strong team from any consideration of moving on?

If so, what do we call the Group of Death, now? The Group of Great Sickness? The Group of Near Death?

Reminds me of the 1987 movie "The Princess Bride" and the Billy Crystal character who is trying to bring Cary Elwes' character Westley back to life. "He's only mostly dead," Crystal says. "Not totally dead. There's a big difference."

Reports are circulating, as you've no doubt heard, that Drogba is going to try and give it a go. This might be the greatest comeback from an injury since Kirk Gibson limped around the bases in the 1988 World Series.

If he does indeed play, that improves the Ivory Coast's chances considerably. But even without the big striker, this is a good team, and they can play.

One must figure, when looking at Group G, that the big three teams, Brazil, Portugal, and the Ivory Coast (with or without Drogba) will all beat North Korea. So now we're talking about head-to-head games.

Let's assume for a moment that Brazil beats both Portugal and the Ivory Coast; certainly a strong possibility.  What you are left with is a head-to-head match up between Portugal and the Ivory Coast for the right to advance.

So that begs the question, can the Ivory Coast beat Portugal, even without Didier Drogba?

I think they can. They have other lethal threats that can score other than Drogba.

His Chelsea teammate Salomon Kalou knows how to put the ball past the keeper. Gervinho is also quite capable up front.

Ivory Coast is also strong in the back, with world class players like Manchester City's Kolo Toure and Arsenal's Emmanuel Eboue.

This group can beat Portugal if they can control tempo and make strong runs.

Sven Eriksson is a capable skipper who will have his club ready.

Would the Ivory Coast have a better chance with Didier Drogba in the middle of the pitch next week? Absolutely. But do they have no chance at all without him? No.

Group G is still a group to be reckoned with, and Brazil and Portugal better not start looking too far ahead because of a single broken bone.

Group G, if no longer the Group of Death, is, in the words of Billy Crystal, the group of "mostly" death.