Match Preview: Ivory Coast vs. El Salvador
The Ivory Coast didn't look like the alleged powerhouse side they are in their opening 2-1 friendly loss to Bosnia-Herzegovina, but a bout with the minnows from El Salvador should help their confidence, if anything.
WOUNDED ELEPHANTS: Arguably, some of the Ivorians' defensive frailties exposed against Bosnia would be solved by the inclusion of the Toure brothers, Yaya and Kolo, both of whom missed the match due to a thigh injury and malaria, respectively. Both are still dealing with their issues, and Manchester City star Yaya was seen rubbing his thigh at training. Which sparked off speculation in the English press. Look for some combo of Cheick Tiote, Max Gradel, Didier Ya Konan, or maybe 21-year-old Ismael Diomande again to line up in the central midfield positions.
HELPING DROGBA: The biggest star of them all for the Ivory Coast is, of course, Didier Drogba. The Ivorian attack only really came to life after he checked in against Bosnia. But is he enough? His frontline supporting cast needs to show up once they get to Brazil, particularly Salomon Kalou and Gervinho, neither of whom saw the field against Bosnia.
IN TRANSITION: The Salvadorans are in serious rebuilding mode. For them, in many ways, this friendly -- and Saturday's friendly against Spain in Washington -- is the start of their preparations for this fall's Copa Centroamericano and next World Cup cycle. That's why the squad's average age is just over 24 years old. The oldest field player is former MLS star Arturo Alvarez (28), who could be joined in the midfield by Jaime Alas (24), Andres Flores (23), and the San Antonio Scorpions' Richard Menjivar (23).
THE STAR YOU KNOW
- Didier Drogba, forward, Ivory Coast. The 36-year-old Galatasary beast remains the captain and focal point of the Ivorian attack. He's coming off a 10-goal season in Turkey and scored the goal against Bosnia last week.
THE PLAYER WHO WILL SURPRISE YOU
- Wilfried Bony, forward, Ivory Coast. The 25-year-old Swansea City forward is like a mini-Drogba in his similar combination of power, pace, and precision. Now he needs consistency. He's scored eight times in 23 appearances for his country, including three during World Cup qualifying.