Featured Matches
Previous
Lille
FC Porto
0
1
ESPNDeportes FT
Leg 1
Game Details
NK Maribor
Celtic
1
1
FT
Leg 1
Game Details
Standard Liege
Zenit St Petersburg
ESPN3 6:45 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Stjarnan
Internazionale
0
0
LIVE 7'
Leg 1
Game Details
Fulham
Wolverhampton Wanderers
0
1
FT
Game Details
Colorado Rapids
Los Angeles Galaxy
1:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Seattle Sounders FC
San Jose Earthquakes
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
AaB
Apoel Nicosia
1
1
ESPN3 FT
Leg 1
Game Details
Lille
FC Porto
0
1
ESPNDeportes FT
Leg 1
Game Details
NK Maribor
Celtic
1
1
FT
Leg 1
Game Details
Slovan Bratislava
BATE Borisov
1
1
ESPN3 FT
Leg 1
Game Details
Standard Liege
Zenit St Petersburg
ESPN3 6:45 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk
Hajduk Split
2
1
FT
Leg 1
Game Details
Stjarnan
Internazionale
0
0
LIVE 7'
Leg 1
Game Details
Fulham
Wolverhampton Wanderers
0
1
FT
Game Details
Livingston
Heart of Midlothian
4
1
FT
Game Details
Colorado Rapids
Los Angeles Galaxy
1:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Seattle Sounders FC
San Jose Earthquakes
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
DC United
Waterhouse
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
CD FAS
Montreal Impact
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Nacional Potosí
Libertad
0
0
LIVE 9'
Leg 1
Game Details
UTC
Deportivo Cali
0
0
LIVE 7'
Leg 1
Game Details
General Díaz
Cobresal
11:15 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Peñarol
Wilstermann
11:15 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Real Espor
Atlético Nacional
1:30 AM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
River Plate
Colón de Santa Fe
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Guadalajara
Zacatepec
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Puebla
Necaxa
ESPNDeportes 12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Altamira
Queretaro
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
At. San Luis
Monterrey
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Veracruz
Lobos BUAP
ESPNDeportes 2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Figueirense FC
Botafogo
10:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Santos FC
Atletico Paranaense
10:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Sport
Palmeiras
10:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Bahia
Criciúma
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Coritiba FBC
EC Vitória
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Chapecoense AF
Fluminense FC
1:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Flamengo
Atlético MG
1:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Internacional
São Paulo
1:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Western Sydney Wanderers
Guangzhou Evergrande
1
0
FT
Leg 1
Game Details
Pohang Steelers
FC Seoul
0
0
FT
Leg 1
Game Details
Free State Stars
SuperSport United
3
2
FT
Game Details
Bidvest Wits
Maritzburg Utd
1
0
FT
Game Details
Chippa United
Pretoria Univ
1
2
FT
Game Details
Moroka Swallows
Mamelodi Sundowns
0
2
FT
Game Details
Mpumalanga Black Aces
Silver Stars
0
2
FT
Game Details
Orlando Pirates
Amazulu
1
1
FT
Game Details
Saprissa
Santos
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Sky Blue FC
Houston Dash
11:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Next

Group stage worst XI

World Cup Jun 27, 2014
Read

Best XI of the group stage

World Cup Jun 27, 2014
Read

Pekerman showing coaching savvy

Colombia Jun 19, 2014
Read
 Posted by Sam Crocker
Jun 22, 2014

Die and Tiote paper over the cracks

Serey Die and Cheick Tiote have combined to ease the pressure on Didier Zokora and defensive partner Sol Bamba

When cracks appear in solid foundations, you can either fix the problem or paper over it, hiding what lies beneath. Applied to the Ivory Coast, two skilled tradesmen are doing the latter to mask the team's ills, as if everything is fine. Step forward, Serey Die and Cheick Tiote.

The pair play a very important role between the roving Yaya Toure and the air-kicking centre-back pairing of Didier Zokora and Sol Bamba. They have served their purpose with a commendable vigour so far, sniffing out threats the opposition pose. By hook or by crook, they get the job done.

The use of Die and Tiote by coach Sabri Lamouchi to paper over the cracks is essentially a necessity, enforced by a fundamental lack of options in defence beyond Zokora and Bamba. While the dearth of decent central defenders the country produce is more of a long-term worry, World Cup 2014 success does not care for the long-term. This cover-up operation is what needs to be done -- for now.

Bamba and Zokora are not good enough at this level; they remain the weakest part of the team, and Die and Tiote are obliged to stop the ball going near them. They are both industrious players, and their endless stamina and raw desire is a sight to behold when they stalk their prey on the pitch.

Of course, headlines are usually reserved for the star names, Toure and Didier Drogba, but this combative pair has become an indispensable part of the national team's strategy. Their place in the starting 11 is unconditional at present, barring an injury. The Japanese trio of Shinji Okazaki, Shinji Kagawa and Keisuke Honda were expected to cause Les Elephants problems in their opening match, but Die and Tiote effectively prevented any of them taking hold in a 2-1 win.

Admittedly, Honda did strike for Japan, but Ivory Coast's security guards cannot prevent everyone from getting through. Support for them is crucial yet sadly lacking.

They suffocated the likes of James Rodriguez and Juan Cuadrado from having too much of an influence during their clash with Colombia, although class -- and a paucity of Ivorian options -- proved too much in a 2-1 defeat. In a team famed for the glut of attacking talent they have, the fact that two snarling defensive midfielders could be the ones who make the biggest difference is incongruous to the reputation that they have.

Should they beat Greece and advance to the round of 16, their importance will only grow. Likely to be faced with stronger attacking opposition, the need to stop them from getting to Zokora and Bamba is even more vital -- not only in terms of goal prevention but also in the retrieving of the ball to start counterattacks. Their role is to keep them in the game rather than win the game directly.

When it comes to the showreel of the Ivory Coast's tournament, we already know what will be included. Serge Aurier's crossing against Japan, Gervinho firing past David Ospina and perhaps a defender-swatting run from Toure later in the tournament. But the constant will be Die and Tiote screening the defence, making sure the rest of the world is not exposed to the cracks that lie behind.

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.