MX23RW : Monday, September 20 00:13:29| >> :600:3914332:3914332:
Jul 31, 2021 at 9am UK at Miyagi Stadium
Spain U23sSpain Under-23s
Ivory Coast U23sIvory Coast Under-23s
Olmo (30'), Mir (90+3', 117', 120+1'), Oyarzabal (98' pen.)
Olmo (70'), Garcia (77'), Soler (114')
Bailly (10'), Gradel (90+1')
Dabila (73')

Preview: Spain Under-23s vs. Ivory Coast Under-23s - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Olympic Games Men's Football clash between Spain Under-23s and Ivory Coast Under-23s, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Spain Under-23s go up against Ivory Coast Under-23s in the quarter-final of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on Saturday at the Miyagi Stadium.

Both sides earned five points in the group stages which was enough to see Spain top Group C, while Ivory Coast finished second in Group D.

Match preview

Franck Kessie of Ivory Coast celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates on July 22, 2021© Reuters

Luis de la Fuente's side started their Olympics campaign this summer with a goalless draw against Egypt, despite dominating possession and registering five shots on target.

Another dominant performance against Australia in the second round of fixtures brought Spain their first win in the group stages, after Mikel Oyarzabal's strike late on at the Sapporo Dome.

Spain needed to avoid defeat against Argentina in the final fixture of the group stages to guarantee their place in the knockout rounds, and the young Spaniards survived a late scare after Tomas Belmonte equalised for Argentina to come away with a point from that game.

De la Fuente's side have averaged 70% possession across the three group matches, the highest amount of any other team at the Olympics, and it has helped Spain limit their opposition to very few chances on Unai Simon's goal.

After not qualifying for the 2004, 2008 and 2016 Olympics, Spain have surpassed their most recent best in this competition when they were eliminated at the group stages in London 2012, but this squad will have their sights set on emulating the 1992 squad who won gold at their home tournament.

Ivory Coast missed out on top spot to Brazil in Group D by two points, having managed one win and two draws in the first week of the Olympics.

Soualiho Haidara's side started their Tokyo tournament well with a 2-1 win over Saudi Arabia, thanks to an own goal from Abdulelah Al-Amri and a strike from Franck Kessie in the second half.

Their second game of the group stages came against Brazil when they could not capitalise on being one player up for 66 minutes after Douglas Luiz was shown a straight red card for Brazil.

The two sides became even again in terms of how many players they had on the pitch when Ivory Coast's Eboue Kouassi was given his marching orders after receiving his second yellow card, and the game ended all square.

Ivory Coast avoided a third consecutive match with a red card in their final match in Group D against Germany, which ended in a 1-1 draw after Germany's Eduard Lowen cancelled out Ivory Coast's opener via a Benjamin Henrichs's own goal.

The winner of this tie will play either New Zealand or hosts Japan in the semi-final, which will be played next Tuesday.

Spain Under-23s Olympic Games Men's Football form:
  • D
  • W
  • D

Spain Under-23s form (all competitions):
  • D
  • D
  • W
  • D

Ivory Coast Under-23s Olympic Games Men's Football form:
  • W
  • D
  • D

Team News

Spain coach Luis de la Fuente reacts on July 22, 2021© Reuters

De la Fuente has opted for the same back four in the last two games, consisting of Marc Cucurella, Pau Torres, Eric Garcia and Oscar Gil, and they are expected to start again on Saturday in front of goalkeeper Simon.

Striker Oyarzabal and winger Dani Olmo are among those who played for Spain's senior side at this year's Euros championship, and they have been ever-present in Japan this month along with Barcelona midfielder Pedri.

Mikel Merino claimed Spain's second goal at the Tokyo Games after Oyarzabal's strike in the previous game against Australia, and the midfielder is likely to be rewarded with another start on the weekend.

Ivory Coast's Kouassi served his one-match suspension during the final group game against Germany, and he is in contention to return to the starting 11 against Spain.

In their last outing, Haidara played a 4-2-3-1 formation and AC Milan's Kessie is one of Ivory Coast's most influential players along with Manchester United centre-back Eric Bailly.

Of the three goals Ivory Coast have to their name from the group stages, two of them have been own goals but that may not concern Haidara just yet, as his team are putting the opposition defenders under pressure and forcing mistakes.

Spain Under-23s possible starting lineup:
Simon; Cucurella, Torres, Garcia, Gil; Pedri, Zubimendi, Merino; Olmo, Oyarzabal, Asensio

Ivory Coast Under-23s possible starting lineup:
Tape; Diallo, Dabila, Bailly, Singo; Keita, Kouassi; Gradel, Kessie, Kouame; Dao

SM words green background

We say: Spain Under-23s 1-0 Ivory Coast Under-23s

Spain have not been high scorers this summer and did not manage more than one goal in a game during the group stages.

De la Fuente's side are expected to dominate possession on Saturday which will limit Ivory Coast's chances in front of goal and therefore Spain should capitalise on that by keeping a clean sheet.

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