A regular series as part of our World Cup coverage under the Talent Radar banner is aimed at the tons of aspiring football hipsters out there. We will track the progress of all young players at the World Cup, focusing on each and every game and compiling a detailed analysis. The eligibility criteria for this is simple, the player must have been 21 or below at the start of the season (2013-14).
Group C is widely regarded as the alternative Group of Death with no clear cut favourite but rather four equally skilled hopefuls. While some may argue Colombia should lay claim on top spot, one can’t deny the physical ability of Ivory Coast and the technical skill of the Japanese.
The two faced off in the late kick-off on Day three with the Japanese showing good promise, taking the lead and settling into the game, but they resorted to hold the lead rather than attack that took the game away from them. Ivory Coast physically were winning the game and had a good quick counter on them with the midfielders also capable of running at the opposition but there was no way through. Didier Drogba was brought on at the hour mark and 5 minutes later, the Africans had overturned the lead. But while the ex-Chelsea striker did add a psychological presence, the focus and plaudits were largely unfairly given to the legendary player. The real credit must go to young right-back, Serge Aurier, who may be guilty of trying the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Thankfully, he wasn’t insane and his efforts paid off.
Before we get to his game changing performance, his defensive contribution, or lack of it was quite noticeable in the opening exchanges. Japan found a lot of joy down that side, and in Ivory Coast’s half in general taking advantage of the space being offered. It’s good that Aurier is quick, meaning his recovery was good to make up for his lack of positional sense. His reading of the game though was top notch, making 6 successful interceptions to break up play in behind the striker.
His most telling piece of football though, was ofcourse in the attacking half. Two perfect crosses in the space of some 100 odd seconds completely turned the game on it’s head. The first saw Bony use his aerial strength to head past the keeper, but to be honest absolutely any player would have managed to score from there with a cross like that, inch perfect accuracy, pace on the ball all it needed was a touch. Not to sound over-dramatic, but that was a world-class cross, almost unplayable.
The second was another solid ball in, not quite as perfect as the first, played to the near post and requiring the scorer, Gervinho, to do more work than Bony had with the keeper ofcourse playing a part in it. Seven crosses in total, according to WhoScored, some not quite as threatening but two invaluable ones.
That was pretty much his game. Improvement in a defensive capacity can be beneficial, attacking-wise he feels at home, helped by his wing-back experience at Toulouse.