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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The FIFA World Cup Team Runthrough Thread #4 For 6/10/14: #13 Ivory Coast

Photo From The Mag

Projected formation: 

                             Barry 
   
     Aurier  -   K.Toure -    Bamba  -Boka
                              
                        Tiote    -   Die 

                              Toure 
                  Kalou              Gervinho
                              
                              Drogba 

Key Bench Options: Bony, Ya Konan, Gradel, Djakpa, Zokora 

The Runthrough

It is make or break time for the golden generation of the Ivory Coast.  Tasked with that huge expectation on their chest is the youngest manager of the tournament in Sabri Lamouchi. 

The Frenchman knows that his team is one of the most explosive attacking sides in the field, with do everything midfield Yaya Toure seemingly getting better with each passing season. The same can't be said of legendary forward Didier Drogba, as the 36-year-old forward is in some danger for his starting position. That is thanks in part to not only age, but the oncoming rise of the "next Drogba" in 25-year-old Wilfred Bony, who after a modest youth career has surged in the last two seasons at Vitese and Swansea City. 

Career reviving seasons from Salomon Kalou and Gervinho at Lille and Roma respectively give the Coast high expectations for a third straight World Cup. But massive questions at centerback and a third straight hard group is where those expectations could crash right out at the group stage again. And spell the end of a golden generation without even a bronze global moment. 

Yaya's older brother Kolo is just a backup nowadays at a solid level club, no longer having the great recovery pace that made him such a presence in his Arsenal days. Despite a decent campaign at Liverpool, Toure was easily the 4th centerback on Brendan Rodgers' depth chart and will be picked on big time by the likes of Colombia, Greece, and Japan as where to best exploit. It's not like Toure's partner Sol Bamba will be feared either, as the 29-year-old has been dealing with injuries all season for his Turkish side Trabzonspor. 

The veteran but vulnerable centerback pairing makes Cheick Tiote's job as a punishing holding midfielder even more vital. Tiote will have to be at his best in all aspects of his position against forces like James Rodriguez, Keisuke Honda, and a mix of Giorgos Samaras and Dimitris Salpingidis. As he has displayed at Newcastle, Tiote can be a boss in the middle of the park with tenacity and fine range. 

Both fullback spots are completely better and sorted out with the tireless Stuttgart based left back Arthur Boka and in-demand right back talent Serge Aurier of Toulouse. The 31-year-old Boka continues to show his fine pace and energy in the Bundesliga despite being only 5'7. Aurier, 10 years Boka's junior, could easily see himself with a new club at tournament's end with good performances against the offensive units he will face.   

Starting alongside him behind Yaya Toure looks to be Serey Die, who has quietly developed into a good midfield performer at Basel. Die will also have to protect Kolo Toure and Bamba to allow Boka and the excellent Aurier to venture forward. 

The attack is so formidable for the Ivory Coast side that the likes of CSKA Moscow hitman Seydou Doumbia and Everton duo of Lacina Traore and injured Arouna Kone were among the final cuts. The bench has solid attacking option in likely Bony with St.Etienne's active winger Max Gradel and Hannover 96 star Didier Ya Konan as offensive touches for Lamouchi, while Constant Djakpa and the other Didier on the this team, the nation's all time caps leader Didier Zokora, serve as those poise to provide any late match lead protecting. And the 34-year-old Boubacar Barry may not be an elite goalkeeper, but is solid enough to not be a worry. 

Lamouchi has told Drogba that he has to watch for his starting place thanks to Bony, but it would have been a benefit for him if he could tell the same to the equally fading Kolo Toure.  

The youngest manager of the tournament will have to hope one of the oldest centerback pairings in it does not get too old to get out of the group stages. 

Under The Radar, Key Players: 

Tiote: As mentioned above, Tiote will need to bring his A- game to stifle the vaunted attacks coming the way of the old centerback pairing behind him. 







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