Colombia are down in everyones book as the Dark Horse of this World Cup. In their first appearance since 1998, Jose Pekerman’s side will be looking to match their best performance in their 5 World Cups to date, which was a Round of 16 tie. With Falcao missing through injury/fitness, the baton will be passed to Teofilo Gutierrez, their other main striker. Here is their Squad:
GK’s: David Ospina, Faryd Mondragon, Camilo Vargas
DF’s: Mario Yepes, Cristian Zapata, Pablo Armero, Camilo Zuniga, Santiago Arias, Eder Alvarez Balanta, Carlos Valdes
MF’s: Fredy Guarin, Juan Cuadrado, James Rodriguez, Abel Aguilar, Juan Fernando Quintero, Carlos Sanchez, Aldo Leao Ramirez, Alexander Mejia
FW’s: Victor Ibarbo, Jackson Martinez, Carlos Bacca, Adrian Ramos, Teofilo Gutierrez
With no Brazil in the mix – it made things simpler for Colombia. They finished in the group of 9 well, in 2nd place just 2 points off Argentina. They took a couple of beatings, but ultimately came through with flying colours, winning 9 of 17 games, drawing 3 and losing the other 4.
Ones to Watch:
Teofilo Gutierrez – with no Falcao, the onus is on this man. He creates space for himself and others by dragging defenders out of position, leaving the likes of Rodriguez and Cuadrado to exploit the gaps. Weather he is partnered by Martinez or Bacca – who knows, but either way a key figure in their lineup. He is also a bit of a troublemaker – almost all clubs he has been at he has left for disciplinary reasons.
Juan Cuadrado – the Co-owned Fiorentina and Udinese player has had a stunning season with Viola, scoring plenty and creating freely. On either wing, he is a danger, with blistering pace that will leave any defender (bar Costa Rica’s Gamboa) for dead. A player I am excited to see more of!
James Rodriguez – strangely, Colombia’s J-Rod plays better without Falcao, both for his country and Monaco. Without him he is the main man, and he seems to like the responsibility that goes with it. A strong, pacey winger – he will be dangerous and certainly one to watch!
(4-2-2-2): Ospina, Zuniga, Yepes, Zapata, Armero, Valencia, Guarin, Rodriguez, Cuadrado, Bacca, Gutierrez.
From front to back an astoundingly talented team. All of the back four are doing well in Serie A, as are Guarin and Cuadrado. Bacca just had the season of his life at Sevilla, and Rodriguez a good season with Monaco. Even on the bench you have the likes of Jackson Martinez who is having a great time at Porto, as well as Juan Quintero (Porto), Victor Ibarbo and Adrian Ramos. There is a lot of expectancy on this side, hopefully not too much!
Winner – 25/1
Group Winner – 4/5
To Qualify – 2/7
Stage of Elimination: Quarter Finals – 11/4
Over 5.5 Points – 4/6
In our opinion – the hype is justified, weather it weighs on the players minds is another question. We think they will do well, and finish top of their group. They have gone without Falcao before, and not been massively affected – so for this reason our Top Tips are Colombia – Group Winner @ 4/5 and Over 5.5 Points @ 4/6.