Africa Cup of Nations – Morocco v Ivory Coast Preview (24/1/17)

Morocco preview

After a pretty poor showing in their first match when they looked all huff and puff with no end product, the Atlas Lions roared back into life thanks to a 3-1 victory against Togo. Their destiny is now in their own hands and a draw would be enough to secure progression into the quarter finals. Taking all three points might even see them win the group but standing in their way is Ivory Coast, in what is a straightforward knockout match. It must be said that Morocco have badly missed playmakers like Boufal and Belhanda but finally some other players stood up to be counted against Togo. Their fast attacks going forward were impressive and you'd think if the Ivory Coast get desperate then the opportunity will be there for Morocco. Herve Renard’s men can’t afford to be too timid and sit too deep otherwise it could spell trouble.

Ivory Coast preview

So far, the pre tournament favourites have flattered to deceive. Just two draws facing weaker nations simply isn’t good enough for a team of this stature, but their destiny is still in their own hands at least. The Elephants know that a win and only a win would see them through to the quarter finals. It’s now or never and it’s time for their big stars to deliver. I thought the Ivory Coast were much improved against DR Congo last time out. They conceded two sloppy goals but on another day they’d have probably won that game. The combination of strikers didn’t work in their opening fixture facing Togo but with Wilfried Bony upfront it seems they had a focal point, and he caused a lot of problems. If an improvement is maintained here then there’s no reason why they can’t win.

Conclusion & betting analysis

This is a real heavyweight contest between two of the big nations at this tournament. One of them is definitely going out so it’s all to play for! In terms of an actual winner, it's so difficult to predict and it all depends who takes their chances. I have to think it’ll be an open game though. Côte D’Ivoire are likely to come out of the traps quickly and assert themselves on the game by getting an early goal. As soon as a goal is scored here, the other team simply has to respond at some stage which should increase the chances of more goals being scored. Therefore, the bet I like is over 2 goals. Around the 1.85 mark this seem pretty generous. Both teams have strong defensive capabilities, but at some stage one of them at least will have to go for it. We saw in the previous matchday that both opened up much more, wanting to play attacking football. Hopefully the same will happen again. If the big stars of Ivory Coast perform then I have to favour the Elephants to win, but not with much confidence.

Prediction: Morocco 1-2 Ivory Coast

Recommended bet 1 unit: Over 2 goals @ 1.85 (minimum odds acceptable 1.70)