Ivory Coast vs. Japan World Cup Soccer Odds & Pick

Steven Suarez

Thursday, June 12, 2014 12:23 PM GMT

Yaya Toure and the Ivorians will enter their Group C opener against Japan as the favorites, but the margin is incredibly slim. What kind of outcome should we expect in regards to our soccer picks for this World Cup clash?


Odds Overview
The soccer betting lines are extremely tight for Saturday's match. As it stands, Ivory Coast is barely favored at a price of approximately +160, with Japan available for backing at right around +200 and a draw at +220.

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Ivory Coast
Ivory Coast, #21 in the FIFA rankings, will do battle with Japan, Colombia and Greece in Group C, one of the most balanced groups in the tournament. Anyone could advance, meaning a positive result against the Japanese is of the utmost importance.

Coming in, the Ivorians played three friendlies, though only two were recent. They started off with a 2-2 draw against a strong Belgium team back in March before losing to Bosnia (2-1) in late May. A few days later, however, they got that winning feeling by overcoming El Salvador 2-1.

There is a good deal of experience within this Ivory Coast squad.

It starts with captain Didier Drogba, who has 65 goals in 101 international appearances in his career. Then there's Yaya Toure, who has 81 caps for his country, and his brother Kolo, who's made 107 appearances.

The Ivorians don't have a shortage of attacking options at their disposal. Along with Drogba, there's the likes of Gervinho, Salomon Kalou and Wilfried Bony, so Japan (and the rest of the group) will have their hands full. Cheick Tiote, Arthur Boka and Didier Zokora are other players to keep an eye out for.


Japan
This Japanese side has been quite active in recent months. They played a friendly against New Zealand back in March (winning 4-2) and then took part in three more warm-ups in late May and early June.

Though they won all four of their matches (Cyprus, Costa Rica and Zambia were the three recent opponents), Japan didn't exactly face the most difficult of challenges, so it's hard to say how prepared they truly are.

You can never really count out this country when it comes to the World Cup, however, as they've been known to pull off a surprise or two.

Japan will lean heavily on the likes of Keisuke Honda, a 27-year old playmaker who currently plays for AC Milan in the Serie A. He's scored 22 goals in 56 international appearances. Shinji Kagawa and Shinji Okazaki (a team-best 38 international goals) will also need to contribute in attack.

In terms of experience, midfielder Yasuhito Endo will provide that in spades. He's made 144 caps in his career and has been a part of some great Japanese performances in the past. Yasuyuki Konno, Yuto Nagatomo, Atsuto Uchida and Makoto Hasebe also bring a wealth of experience to the table.


 World Cup Pick
Group C is one of the more wide open groups in the World Cup and both Ivory Coast and Japan have a legitimate chance to advance.

Getting a result here on Saturday would go a long way to making that a reality for either of these sides.

So who will get it done? We don't see much separating these countries at all, making us believe a draw is the most likely of results at roughly +220 in the soccer betting odds. Both outfits looked strong in their warm-up friendlies and we think each would be relatively happy with a draw in this group stage opener.

Free World Cup Pick: Ivory Coast 1 Japan 1