With Radamel Falcao missing the tournament, the South Americans have been dealt another blow as Sevilla forward Carlos Bacca took a knock in training and is now suffering from a first degree muscle strain. The treatment period will be 8-10 days. As a result, Bacca would miss the rest of the group stages. Colombia played a 4-5-1 formation in their opening win over Greece, but could go for a more attacking 4-4-1-1 in Thursday's match versus Cote d'Ivoire as they aim to seal qualification for the next round after just two games.
Head coach Jose Pekerman will have to make do without Sevilla attacker Carlos Bacca due to injury, but Inter midfielder Fredy Guarin returns after missing their first match due to suspension. Pekerman is unlikely to make any changes at the back, yet seems ready to give three new players a chance to prove their worth in midfield and up front. The aforementioned Guarin is expected to get the nod in midfield at the expense of Abel Aguilar, while Juan Quintero could also feature from the start in place of Victor Ibarbo. In attack, Pekerman will make a choice between Teo Gutierrez, who scored against Greece, and Jackson Martinez, with the Porto man sitting in pole position to start at this point. Cote d’Ivoire coach Sabri Lamouchi, meanwhile, will have some serious selection headaches as well following his side’s hard-fought win over Japan.
The Africans struggled to get going while using their 4-3-3 formation in their opening game and only sprung to life after Didier Drogba came off the bench to effectively give them four attackers on the pitch. Lamouchi stressed after the final whistle that he was satisfied with his side’s performance, however, and it seems unlikely that he will make any major changes to his starting XI.That means that both Kolo Toure and Didier Drogba seem destined to start from the bench once more, with the latter having to play for a role as super-sub behind Swansea striker Wilfried Bony.
This will be the first ever game between Colombia and Ivory Coast.
Colombia's record against African sides at the World Cup is balanced with one defeat (against Cameroon in 1990) and one win (against Tunisia in 1998).
Ivory Coast’s two previous World Cup games against South American sides both ended in defeats (1-2 v Argentina in 2006 and 1-3 v Brazil in 2010).
José Pekerman's first game at the World Cup as manager was in charge of Argentina against Ivory Coast, back in 2006. His side won 2-1.
Colombia registered their best result at the World Cup in their last game against Greece (3-0).
Two of Ivory Coast's three wins at the World Cup have come after conceding the opening goal (3-2 v Serbia in 2006 and 2-1 v Japan in 2014).
Seven of Ivory Coast's 11 goals at the World Cup have been scored after the 60th minute of games.
Ivory Coast have failed to score once in their seven World Cup games (0-0 v Portugal in 2010).
Didier Drogba has scored both of Ivory Coast's goals against South American sides at the World Cup (v Argentina in 2006 and v Brazil in 2010).
Juan Cuadrado and Serge Aurier both delivered two assists in their first game at this World Cup.