World Cup - Colombia-Ivory Coast matchpack: Will Drogba return?

Colombia can virtually assure their place in the second round of the World Cup with victory over Ivory Coast on Thursday.

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World Cup - Colombia-Ivory Coast matchpack: Will Drogba return?
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Didier Drogba and Gervinho, World Cup 2014

Jose Pekerman’s side kicked off their campaign with a fine 3-0 victory over Greece, with James Rodriguez, Pablo Armero and Teofilo Gutierrez scoring the goals for the much-fancied team.

Ivory Coast also began with a win, coming from behind to beat Japan thanks to headers from Gervinho and Wilfried Bony.

Depending on the result of the other game between the Greeks and the Japanese, taking place a few hours later in Natal, this could basically be the deciding game of the group, with the winners through to face teams from England’s group.

TEAM NEWS

Colombia are likely to be unchanged, with forward Gutierrez deputising for the injured Radamel Falcao, a decision that surprised many with Carlos Bacca also available to Pekerman.

Indeed, the Colombia coach may not have those options open to him on Thursday, with Bacca suffering a muscle strain in training, meaning he will miss not only this game but the final group match against Japan.

Ivory Coast coach Sabri Lamouchi has no further injury concerns, but has to decide whether to name veteran talisman Didier Drogba in his starting line-up. Drogba started on the bench against Japan, but was introduced and helped change the game, even though he didn’t find the net himself.

EXPECTED LINE-UPS

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MANAGER QUOTES

Jose Pekerman (Colombia): ''Colombia proved (against Greece) that we have many positive assets. We can play, we can create good opportunities and we can take them. All the players did what they were expected to do and that makes us very confident. Ivory Coast is one of the strongest African teams. They have already played in World Cups and have players that have a lot of experience. Besides the important players that they have, the fact that they have played at big competitions gives them that necessary calmness to know what is at stake. We will have to show the same focus that we had against Greece and try to recover the players as soon as possible considering the intensity of the game against Greece."

Sabri Lamouchi (Ivory Coast): "People love Didier Drogba and I know there are a lot of lovers of Drogba's style. But you have to understand the last time he played 90 minutes was a few months ago in Turkey. He's just recovered from injury. He made a lot of sacrifices to be here at the World Cup. It's looking a little bit like a final of the group. I'm pretty sure the winner will be qualified for the next phase."

KEY STATS

Colombia's 3-0 win over Greece was their biggest at a World Cup finals.

Colombia coach Jose Pekerman has yet to lose a match in normal time at the World Cup. Pekerman was in charge of Argentina in 2006 when they were beaten on penalties by Germany in the quarter-finals, having not previously lost a game.

Ivory Coast forward Didier Drogba and Colombia defender Mario Yepes are set for a battle of the veterans. Drogba is 36 and Yepes 38.

Colombia are taking part for the World Cup for the fifth time and have progressed to the last sixteen once. Ivory Coast are taking part for the third time are have never gone beyond the group stage.

Both teams have won their respective contintental championships once. Colombia were South American champions in 2001 and Ivory Coast won the African Nations Cup in 1992.

Previous meetings: Colombia and Ivory Coast have never faced each other before.

MATCH ODDS

Colombia 15-13, Ivory Coast 14-5, draw 5-2

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