Ivory Coast

Play by play

FT: Colombia 2 – 1 Ivory Coast || That was a draining game to watch. I feel like I just played 90 minutes of a World Cup game in front of thousands of people. Yeah, live-blogging is that intense. We trained for years in hot pants in Arctic conditions to be able to deliver these live-blogs to you. But enough about me, how about those Colombians! As we’ve learned from Spain, possession can be a cute but useless number. By the end of the game, it was one-way traffic: the Ivorians marching into the Colombian box with impunity. But the Colombians held. Flimsily at times, but they never broke. And that’s all you need to do when you’ve scored two great goals: don’t concede more than one goal. The GIF of Colombia captain Mario Yepes up top, from the last minute of play, tells you everything you need to know about the Colombia performance. There’s only one undefeated team in Group C now. That’s Colombia. Welcome back to the big-time, Colombia. I’m sure El Pibe is smiling.

A ball is played back to Yepes and the ball rolls right through his legs. That’s when the race began between Colombia goalkeeper Ospina and Drogba. Who would get there first? Here’s a hint: It was the 25 year old; not the guy with 400-year-old legs. But barely. What an exciting second half. I’m planning on moving to Colombia after the final whistle.

Cheick Tioté makes a desperate tackle on Cuadrado, who goes flying and stays down for a few hours. Understandably. Tioté collects a yellow. But in between the foul and the stoppage, this happened. Quintero tried to chip Barry from midfield. Oy vey, is right!

Yepes back. He’s back and throwing his body around like he has a spare in a trunk that he can use. #Braveheart

It seems as if we haven’t moved from the Colombian box. The most recent event while the Ivorians are attacking in waves: Ivory Coast’s Mathis Bolly running into Colombia captain Mario Yepes, and Yepes getting a dead leg, falling over, and then hobbling off. Yepes is a warrior, though—a Braveheart-style warrior with Braveheart-like, rugged looks. He’ll be back.

The Ivorians are now pouring forward. They’ve gone close several times, but close is of little importance at this point. They’ve been just offside, or played a final ball with just too much pace. Colombia isn’t exactly nervy at the back, but they should be wary of conceding so much possession to the Ivorians so deep. This is intense.

The Ivorians are now pouring forward. They’ve gone close several times, but close is of little importance at this point. They’ve been just offside, or played a final ball with just too much pace. Colombia isn’t exactly nervy at the back, but they should be wary of conceding so much possession to the Ivorians so deep. This is intense. 

It seems that there are a few Colombia fans in the stadium. Some of them seem pleased. 

MATCH FIXING! Gervinho dances in from the left side of the Colombia box and bangs a right-footed shot past Ospina. *gasp* The Colombian president said 2-1 Colombia, didn’t he? Yes, he did. And here you thought I was just a crazy mad ranting. And I told you, Gervinho would find a way to slip through. 

Serey Die gets robbed at midfield. Maybe that’s why he was crying earlier. He knew this was going to happen. After the robbery, Teó finds Quintero who slots smoothly past Barry. And it’s 2-0 Colombia.

REWIND: If this doesn’t make your heart flutter, you aren’t a human. CELEBRATE. I’m watching this all day. And going salsa dancing tonight.

REWIND: Here’s the James goal. But the celebration is coming. Just wait.

Cuadrado takes a corner and the man they call JAMES rises and powers a header past Barry. 1-0 Colombia! But that’s not even the best part. Not by a long shot. The entire Colombia team runs to the bench and starts a group salsa dance. It’s all choreographed. I can’t breathe. Bravo, Colombia. Bravo. I think it was the Joe Arroyo from the beginning of the blog. We did it, Colombia.

REWIND: Zokora tries to dance with Cuadrado.

Emperor Drogba has arrived. *sea parts*

Action the other way! Cuadrado brings down a ball over the top, burns Boka with a stepover and shoots well, but his shot kisses the post and WE ARE STILL SCORELESS! There’s all the action now.

Toure, stationary on the right flank, plays a looping ball with the outside of his right foot, over the Colombian defense and right to Bony, who has his back to the goal. Bony tries an outrageous first-time strike. It’s half clumsy bicycle kick, half gymnastics tumble. We’re still scoreless.

Didier Zokora chops down Cuadrado in the Ivorian half. Zokora, has played multiple positions throughout his career. But he has played them all consistently, consistently fouling anyone anywhere on the field. He did it beautufully here. The man truly appreciates fine art.

Cuadrado crosses to Rodriguez, but the chance clears to Toure, who shakes off a foul and runs 60 yards, winning a free-kick roughly 22 yards out. WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? You guessed it. Nothing. But Didier Drogba is warming up on the sidelines. Do you hear the thunder?

The teams are exchanging light barbs. Colombia break and Ibaro and Teó combine to almost create a chance. At the other end, Toure and Gervinho replicate the “almost chance,” with Toure playing Gervinho into the box and Gervinho falling down. We’ll get there, guys.

Gervinho gets taken down in the Colombian half, even though he was probably going nowhere. Yaya Toure’s free kick also goes nowhere. Well, it went into the arms of Ospina. I suppose that’s somewhere.

Anyway, keep your eye on him. Let’s return to the second half. The action has started.

Now, here he is with Joe Biden, who has been making the rounds in Brazil. They share the same passion, fine. BUT IS THAT PASSION MATCH FIXING? And if so, what was traded? Nothing is free. #ConspiracyTalk

Here’s Santos with Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff. What did they just discuss? AND WHY? #ConspiracyTalk

Let’s revisit this. First, Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos tells reporters the final score of the game, and then THERE HE IS, AT THE GAME. #ConspiracyTalk.

HT: Colombia 0 – 0 Ivory Coast || It has been a relatively open game, with both the Colombians and Ivorians carving out chances. The best chances have fallen to the Colombians, and to Teó specifically. But I can see a way out of this for both teams. What can change in the second half? Colombian talisman Falcao isn’t even in the squad, but Ivorian talisman Didier Drogba is probably in the locker room right now, dusting gold dust off of his shoulders and guzzling ambrosia. But whatever changes, both sides need to make sure they improve their final balls and finishing if they’re to come out of this with maximum points. This, here, just isn’t going to cut it.

The Ivorians are getting closer. And by closer, I mean Gervinho keeps dribbling into Colombian defenders. You may think that’s meaningless since you don’t get points for running into defenders, but that’s not how Gervinho operates. He will keep running and running and running and, eventually, he will slip through. It may not be pretty, but it will happen, because Gervinho may just be the best-worst player in the world. And when he isn’t good on purpose, he’s often great by accident.

Ivory Coast defender Souleymane Bamba found himself in a dangerous position in his own box, surrounded by Colombian attackers. What was he to do? Kick the ball out? Anything as long as got rid of it quickly? No. Bamba put his foot on the ball and dribbled out of traffic. Fun? Yes. Incredibly stupid? Yes.

In Bogota, Colombia, fans show their support in different ways. I, for one, have always believed the team that gets the most saxophone support generally wins. But as I’ll keep reminding you, I am not a scientist.

Maybe we need to have a fan town hall meeting, because it’s getting out of hand.

REWIND: In Teó’s mind, he had already celebrated, won the game and the entire World Cup, and bought a Rolls Royce. Which explains his lack of concentration.

Every now and then we like to break news, even if it’s in the middle of a game. I give you a sneak peak at the album art for Yaya Toure’s new album.

Chances are coming on both sides now. Serge Aurier, the man tipped by many to replace Arsenal’s Bacary Sagna, breaks into the Colombia box from the right flank, eluding Colombia captan Mario Yepes. He unleashes a powerful left-footed shot as he’s just inside the box, but it’s straight at Colombian goalkeeper Ospina. Hey now, we have a game!

WHOA NOW! James Rodríguez finds himself on the break, sprinting down the left wing. As two Ivorian defenders approach, he swings in a cross to Teó, who is standing right inside the Ivorian 6-yard box with only Barry to beat. Teó may have been thinking about other things. Because shank. He shanked it. If it was a field goal it would have gone wide left.

TRICK CORNER! Colombia try a trick corner and Howard Webb says, “No. Not on my watch.” The trick goes like this: A player goes to take a corner. That player acts like he isn’t going to take it and taps the ball nonchalantly to an approaching teammate. The ball is now technically in play, but they’re acting like it isn’t. Then, when the defenders are relaxed, the approaching player picks up that ball and just starts dribbling toward the box. That’s what Colombia tried. And Howard Webb wasn’t having it.

Ivory Coast’s Serey Die is no longer crying. You see what happens when you give people an award? They change. It’s sad.

Maybe we should discuss match fixing at halftime. #ConspiracyTalk

There’s a brisk flow to this game. Neither team seems content to patiently pass the ball around the back while having conversations with their friends in the crowd. The minute either team wins possession, they’re breaking forward as if there’s a “Buy One Get One Free” sale that’s ending in a few minutes. It makes for exciting soccer. 

And now the Ivorians are seeing a bit more possession. Yaya Toure whips in a free kick from the right channel, and the ball is cleared out by Colombia. The ball had to be a little bit higher to cause problems. You know, about falcon flying level.

REWIND: Colombia’s first chance of the game. Teó’s shot goes just wide.

Colombia are looking more and more dangerous every time they march down into the Ivorian half. The sea of yellow all around the lower level behind the Ivorian goal is really quite lovely on the eyes. Maybe that’s why Colombia can’t get their shots on target. It’s distracting.

First real chance goes to Teófilo Gutiérrez (Teó) when a long ball bounces off a teammate and falls to him outside of the box. He strikes it well, but the shot goes to the right of Boubacar Barry’s goal. And we are scoreless. Neither team, thus far, has put their stamp on the game, but Colombia are seeing more of the ball.

And we have a winner for “Most Emotional During a National Anthem.” The award goes to … Ivory Coast’s Serey Die. He cries. Obviously. I hope he’s OK, and this isn’t about something serious.

Not to be outdone, the Colombian fans have brought their A-game. Ivorian fans 1 – 1 Colombian fans. 

GAME ON. And I haven’t even mentioned Gervinho, Yaya Toure’s falcon, or Falcao yet. Colombian fans are back and once again have covered the stadium in yellow. 

Ah, so tempting. It seems that Drogba has options. How does he control himself?

I’m going to keep the tempo up for Ivory Coast, too. And I’m not straying from Magic System, who gave us the anthem for the first Les Éléphants game. Go on. Dance. This is “Ki Dit Mié.” If this doesn’t make you want to dance, we can’t be friends.

While we’re at it, here’s Magic System with Drogba in the Skyrock studio in Paris. They sing together. They’re good friend, you know. Drogba knows everyone.

If you’re sitting in an office, you could listen to a recording of a 5th grade band playing the national anthems of these two nations. But that wouldn’t be a very pleasant experience. So, instead, we’ve decided to continue providing you with lovely music (well, occasionally  lovely music) from these respective nations. During the last Colombia game, I went with a Carlos Vives song for Colombia. This time I’m going to pick up the pace a bit and go with a Joe Arroyo classic, “La Rebelión.” Deep stuff.

*stands on a chair and yells “ONE-MINUTE PREVIEEEWWWSSSSS!”* Watch this, become a Colombia expert, and then apply for a job at a think tank.

And now watch this one-minute Ivory Coast primer so you can get a job advising people who advise others about the entire country of Africa. Yes, I said “country of Africa.”

Howard Webb lists “family” as his hobby. My heart says, “Aww, that’s adorable; what a wonderful sentiment,” but my adulthood kind of chuckles.

Today’s referee is Howard Webb. Perhaps you know him as the guy who gave three yellow cards to Croatia’s Josep Simunic in 2006. Yup. Three. Yellow. Cards. Or maybe you know him as the referee from the 2010 World Cup final. But did you know he’s still dreaming of playing soccer? Just check him out in this Ledley King testimonial match in May. 

The answer to the question in the preceding tweet is no, Drobga will not return, at least not to the starting lineup. The only change made by Ivorian coach Sabri Lamouchi: replacing forward/winger Salomon Kalou with Max Gradel. Kalou wasn’t very effective against Japan, but he generally has nice hair. So keep your eye on that. Colombia’s José Pékerman names the same lineup that walked out against Greece. Here are the lineups.

Today’s game between Colombia and Ivory Coast is the first 2014 World Cup game between teams that both won their opening fixtures (if you feel like ignoring Brazil-Mexico), although they did so in quite different fashions. Colombia made quick work of a Greek team that—if facial hair grooming is our guide—wouldn’t be out of place on wooden benches in some Portland bar that serves homemade jam and moonshine. The final score was Colombia 3 – 1 Greece. Ivory Coast, on the other hand, went down early in their game against Japan to a sensational strike from Keisuke Honda. But their fortunes changed when Didier Drogba—a man who has stopped wars, makes sassy underwear for charity, and has a beer in his homeland named after him—intervened in the second half and changed the course of history forever. Drogba didn’t score the goals, but as you can tell from his gesturing when he entered the game, he clearly had something to do with the victory. Ivory Coast beat Japan 2-1.