Colombia may have to go to Brazil without their talisman Falcao, who is a major doubt after suffering a serious knee injury, but they remain a serious threat to every team in the competition. Many expect the eventual winner to be a South American nation, yet Colombia have rarely been mentioned. Nobody will want to meet them in the tournament as they possess quality and are used to the conditions in South America.
They are also a well organised side, with great pace, power and athleticism. Their draw has been very favourable as they are set to face Ivory Coast, Greece and Japan, therefore they should qualify for the knockout stages. It would be foolish to underestimate them as their current FIFA ranking of 5th shows the quality they possess.
Even without Falcao, their strength has to be their attack as the have a lot of quality strikers to choose from. Teofilo Gutierrez is the man that they will rely on for goals in the absence of the Monaco forward. The diminutive River Plate striker has scored 11 goals for the National team. He works hard for the side, covering a lot of ground which is why he is seen as a good second striker behind Falcao.
The prolific Jackson Martinez is the striker that Colombia will turn to if Falcao doesn’t make the tournament. He has only scored 8 times in 26 caps for his nation, but he has scored 41 in 53 league matches for Porto. This shows that he is a prolific goalscorer, while he has the ability to score with both feet. Another option is Adrian Ramos who is the second top scorer in the Bundesliga with 16. He is a physical striker, who is very good in the air, while he is also a clinical finisher in front of goal. They also have Luis Muriel available to play up front and he offers a more pacy option.
They also have a very good midfield, especially on the wing. James Rodriguez is only 22, but he is already an established player at Monaco and is only going to improve further in the future. He is the creative force in the side, who likes to play through balls to cut open the opposition. Furthermore, he is an established set piece taker, who also has a very dangerous shot from distance.
Another creative player in the side is Fredy Guarin. The Inter Milan player is likes to run with the ball beating players with his pace and skill, he is a very good crosser of the ball who can create chances for the physical strike-force. Perhaps their most effective player is Juan Cuadrado who can operate as a full back or a winger. His great stamina means that he gets up and down the pitch and his capabilities as a defender allows him to help out his full back. Cuadrado is pace, ball control and dribbling skills means that he is a tricky winger, who can comfortably beat any full back. He is a very dangerous player, who will cause defenders lots of problems in the heat in Brazil.
Their main weakness is the defence as their captain Mario Yepes is approaching the end of his career and has lost a lot of pace, therefore he can be exposed if he comes up against a quick striker. Christian Zapata and Stefan Medina both have the pace to cover Yepes, but there will be occasions where Yepes will be facing a one on one with an attacker. These are situations that Colombia will want to avoid as they know the limitations of their captain. Another weakness is their record at the World Cup. They have never managed to get past the last 16, which is worrying for them as statistics like that play on the minds of both the team and the fans.
Jose Pekerman became Colombia’s first foreign coach for a long period of time, almost 30 years and he has been praised for giving the country it’s footballing identity back. He came in after a poor start to the qualifying and revitalised the side.
The Argentine led his home nation in the 2006 World Cup, reaching the quarter finals. His experience at a World Cup will help Colombia immensely this summer as he will know what is required in preparation before the tournament and between games. His 4-2-2-2 formation has proved to be very successful and he is likely to continue with it this summer.
World Cup History
This will only be the fifth time that Colombia play at a World Cup finals with their last appearance coming at France 98. They have only managed to get out of their group on one occasion (Italia 90) so they don’t have the pedigree going into this year’s finals, but that may be a positive as fans won’t be expecting much, especially if Falcao misses out.
Jackson Martinez will be key, especially as Falcao could be missing. The Porto striker has never showed his domestic form for his country, but the World Cup may bring out extra motivation for Martinez, as a good tournament will probably lead to a big money move. His finishing ability will have to be on show, especially if they reach the knockout rounds as they will need to be clinical against the better countries.
The group that Colombia are in will provide Martinez with the opportunity to ease into the tournament with the potential to grab a few goals. The creativity of Cuadrado, Guarin and Rodriguez will lead to the Colombian strikers getting chances, it’s their ability to take them that will determine Colombia’s fate.
Colombia have a very good team going forwards, while their group provides them with a great chance of making the knockout rounds for only the second time. Pekerman has made Colombia a hard working unit, who can attack with pace, with a bank of creative midfielders who will make chances for their talented strike-force. They may struggle when they reach the knockout rounds as their defence isn’t the best. If Falcao makes the tournament then it will be a boost for the whole squad.