Group G has been labelled the toughest group in the FIFA World Cup 2010 as it includes teams such as North Korea and Brazil. And both Portugal and Ivory Coast will be forced to prove their might in the opener to qualify in second place for the round of 16.
Ivorians have a lot at stake. The team failed to pass on from the Group stage in 2006. Now, with South Africa playing host, the Elephants really have no option but to put their best foot foward as the spectators will be rooting for them.
Ivory Coast can only hope to fly off the energy from the stadium if star striker Didier Drogba is not playing the game. The 32-year-old injured his arm during a friendly against Japan on Jun 4. The team manager Sven-Göran Eriksson has not revealed anything on Drogba's fitness.
The Portuguese, on the other hand, will be missing midfielder Nani, who also sustained an injury before the World Cup. He has not even accompanied the team to South Africa.
So Portugual's performance lies on Cristiano Ronaldo's shoulder. However, Ronaldo is not in a great shape either as he suffered several injuries during the season with Real Madrid.
Ronaldo, SimÃo and Deco are expected to led the attack for Portugual against Eriksson's close-knit team of strong 11 playing for Ivory Coast. Arsenal's fierce defender Emmanuel Eboue will be a tough wall to break for the Portugese strikers.
Winning the match could be sweet revenge for the Ivorians, whose campaigns in Germany 2006 and Euro 2004 were crashed by Portugal in the past. But if Drogba is not playing for the Ivorians, it will be a cake walk for the Portuguese.
Players to watch
Ivory Coast: Didier Drogba, Emmanuel Eboue
Portugal: Cristiano Ronaldo, SimÃo Sambrosa