WORLD CUP PREVIEW: Colombia

WORLD CUP PREVIEW: Colombia

COACH – Jose Pekerman
BEST SHOWING – 2nd Round 1990
QUALIFICATION – 2nd in CONMEBOL
TOURNAMENT ODDS – 33/1 (bet365, BetVictor, Coral)
FIXTURES
June 14th – Greece (1700 BST, Belo Horizonte, BBC)
June 19th – Ivory Coast (1700 BST, Brasilia, BBC)
June 24th – Japan (2100 BST, Cuiaba, BBC)

Button Ivory Coast Button Greece Button Japan

It seems strange that a nation that has possessed some of the talent Colombia have had over the years is making its first appearance for 16 years at the World Cup. But for all the quality players that have pulled on the Tricolor shirt over the years, there’s always been an implosion brewing and always been that feeling that Colombia should achieve more than they have.

The most infamous example would be the 1994 tournament where Andres Escobar’s own goal not only cost one of the pre-tournament favourites their place in the knockout stages, it later cost him his life as he was murdered.

Times change though and under Jose Pekerman, there was a new found discipline to Colombia’s play as they eased through CONMEBOL qualifying conceding fewer goals than any other team. Part of that was down to the performances of goalkeeper David Ospina who really impressed in a 0-0 draw against Argentina. He’ll be backed up by the tournament’s oldest player Faryd Mondragon who turns 43 just before the Japan game.

Pekerman coached the Argentinians for the 2006 tournament and there are one or two similarities. They’ll play in a 4-2-3-1 and, like the 2006 Argies, they’ll play a patient possession game which can turn into an incisive attack at the drop of a hat whilst also trying to bring full backs Juan Camillo Zuniga and Pablo Armero into play.

The centre of defence will likely be the veteran pairing of Mario Yepes and Luis Perea. Midfielders Fredy Guarin and Macnelly Torres should provide the steel with James Rodriguez bringing the style.

Radamel Falcao is a leader and should play up front but he’s had his injury problems this year and the alternatives available aren’t too shabby. Jackson Martinez has had a fine season for FC Porto and the fiery Teo Gutierrez is also a quality player.

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ONE TO WATCH

05 WORLD CUP RODRIGUEZEl Nuevo Pibe is the playmaker and the heartbeat of this Colombian side like El Pibe himself, Carlos Valderrama – even wearing Valderrama’s number 10 shirt.

James Rodriguez is one of the hottest prospects in world football and AS Monaco couldn’t resist parting with €45m to secure his signature from FC Porto last summer. It proved to be money well spent as the 22-year-old played his part in returning the principality to the Champions League.

He’s quick, he doesn’t get dispossessed easily, he passes with accuracy and has a vicious shot. He’s more than capable of creating havoc in his opponent’s defence and could be one of the stars of the tournament.

HERE COMES D-JUDGE
D-Judge

Colombia come into the World Cup as one of the dark horses. There’s always been talent and potential there but there’s also been the risk of implosion and the side’s professionalism shattering.

Pekerman has instilled discipline and even resorted to bringing in a psychologist in an attempt to improve the side’s mentality and focus.

That aside they’ve impressed in qualifying and already beaten Belgium, a side many think will do well in Brazil. They haven’t been given the easiest of groups but should have enough to beat their opposition.

The last 16 is Colombia’s best effort at the World Cup and they won’t get many better chances to top that showing.

 

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VERDICT

The talent is there but the mentality is a doubt. If Colombia play to their potential, they should reach the quarter-finals. If not, it’ll be another disappointment for South America’s underachievers.

world cup Brasil emblem 01

Dan Pablo Ángel (D-Good)
Owls Alive
E-MAIL: admin@owlsalive.com
TWITTER: @OwlsAlive or @DGood83


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