Squad Analysis Of Colombia National Team Ahead Of FIFA World Cup In Russia
The FIFA World Cup is just around the corner, the most watched tournament in sports, football’s Cathedral, something that we all look forward to as we head down to Russia for the biggest party in the world. 32 teams, 8 groups and a month of football in magic.
South American powehouse Colombia comes into this tournament hoping to recreate what they did in 2014 making only their second quarter finals as they proved to be one of the surprises in Brazil four years ago. A team that was led by James Rodriguez, the now Bayern Munich midfielder led the tournament with six goals including arguably the goal of the World Cup. His Colombia side ended up falling just short in the quarterfinals against Brazil but ended up being one of the feel-good stories of the tournament. The Colombians are looking to improve on that and take it just one step further proving that what they did in 2014 was no fluke and that they can repeat that same which they showed the World 4 years ago in Brazil.
Here’s everything you need to know about this Columbia team prior to the 2018 World Cup that kicks off in June.
● Probable Formations and Lineup:
○GK: David Ospina
○DEF: Santiago Arias, Davidson Sanchez, Cristian Zapata, Yerry Mila
○MID: James Rodriguez, Juan Cuadrado,Edwin Cardona,Carlos Sanchez
○Strikers: Carlos Bacca, Radamel Falcao
●Squad Analysis and Rating:
• Goalkeeper Rating: 5
David Ospina, Colombia’s number one keeper and Arsenal’s backup shot stopper is probably the second best goalkeeper in their group. He’s capable of putting in some really great performances but one may argue that this is not one of Colombia’s strongest areas as there is some cause for concern. The fact that he is not playing week in and week out is a little bit worrisome. Petr Cech has been pretty abysmal this season and given that fact David ospina still has been unable to take over the starting job at Arsenal is not a good sign. We have seen Cech making multiple mistakes but Ospina still failed to enlist himself in Wenger’s good-book. While he has played 21 games this season here’s only played 4 League games. Ospina will without a doubt be the starting goalkeeper for Colombia in Russia and when in the Columbian shirt he has done quite well so it’s entirely possible that he will have a great World Cup but given the lack of playing time in club football, it might affect him. Columbia might go on a deep Run in Russia but it wont be because of David Ospina.
•Defense Rating: 8
Colombia in recent years has had some really strong defenses and this year will be no different. They aren’t as strong as they were during the 2014 World Cup after losing some key pieces in their back line. With the retirement of Mario Alberto Yepes as well as seeing some of the better Colombian Defenders from the 2014 World Cup fall out of their prime as a new age of defenders has come through over the last few years with youngsters such as Barcelona Center-back Yerry Mina and Tottenham Hotspur center-back Davidson Sanchez who has been a revelation for Spurs back line this season. This defense also includes Oscar Murillo Stefan Medina from the Mexican League as well as Cristian Zapata from AC Milan who will be looking to use this tournament as a springboard. But this group of defenders will be led by Santiago Arias who has developed into a superstar at PSV Eindhoven who added a third league title in Holland. Not only that but he was named player of the year having assisted six goals scoring three holding an 82% passing accuracy and winning 134 take-ons on his way to becoming the best player in the league as well as being featured in the team of the season. He indeed is one of the best defenders in Euope this seaosn. Make no mistake about it, he is the leader and Colombia’s most vital weapon defensively but also has the ability to help in the attacking sense as well. I believe with this unit under the leadership of Santiago together they can create a security blanket which would make the Colombian the goalkeepers’ job a lot easier. With Santaigo Arias and Davidson Sanchez as well as a young Yerry Mina their unit can hang with anyone. I think this is one of the best defenses in the World Cup this summer.
•Midfield rating: 7
The Colombian Midfield will revolve around two players- James Rodriguez of Bayern Munich and Juan Cuadrado of Juventus. To a certain extent it is Cuadrado and Rodriguez and then everyone else. These two are the most important part of the Colombian Midfield as without them they are not the same team. James Rodriguez and Juan Cuadrado know how to win as both players have won the League titles this season with Bayern Munich and Juventus respectively as well as making deep runs in the Champions League. They will be highly important not only for individual performances but for their leadership. These two guys know what it takes to win games as they have played against some of the biggest teams, something the rest of the Colombian Midfield cant relate to so their ability to lead will be greatly important on how they perform in the center of the park.
James Rodriguez last time out was the World Cup’s best player having scored 6 goals in 2014 and if he is able to replicate what he did in Brazil, this Midfield could be very dangerous. What I see with this Midfield is a strong Central-midfielder with a lot of pace coming on both sides. However Colombia have some pretty good other options at Midfield. Edwin Cardona from Monterey is a capable midfielder who on his day could be very dangerous as well as Brighton Hove Albion’s Jose Izquierdo who has been excellent this season in his first year in the Premier League playing a major role in ensuring Brighton’s stay in top flight for next season. As well as a rising star in the form of Jefferson Lerma of Levante, the 23 year old has started to show his promise in La Liga and could announce his arrival during this World Cup. Colombian midfield is very strong they and aren’t the best but they have two stars so if James Rodriguez and Juan Cuadrado can stay healthy and play well, they can do some damage in Russia.
•Attack Rating: 8
The Colombia attack is without a doubt their greatest asset. The six Strikers that are getting on the plane to Russia have combined for 87 goals this season. I’m not suggesting that they are the best in the tournament but they are one of the best without a doubt. The likes of Radamel Falcao who is the country’s all-time leading scorer with 29 goals, the Monaco Striker found the back of the net 24 times this season which is not bad for a 32 year old. He will be ready and will bring his shooting boots to Russia. That is just one option you look, then you have Carlos Bacca who spent the year on-loan at Villarreal finding the back of the net 18 times in all competitions. Also in his thirties but has proven year in and year out that he can find the back of the net if fed with proper passes. Then another option is Duvan Zapata who scored 11 goals for Sampdoria on loan from Napoli. He is extremely dangerous from long range. Then there is Lucas Muriel from Sevilla who scored 9 goals this season and the other two strikers from the South American region are also capable goal scorers. I have no doubt that this team will score goals and that is their biggest asset. If this attack gets services they will do their job. It doesn’t matter what formation they run or how many strikers they play, they will have multiple guys who can score goals in the lineup and also coming off the Bench. This Strike force is terrifying and they may not have the names that will jump off the page but they have goals written in all of their boots. Falcao will be leading this lineup but the goals can come from 6 different places which makes them extremely dangerous and unpredictable.
•Overall Rating: 7/10
● Past Record in World Cup:
○Quarterfinals in 2014
○Group Stage: 1962,1994,1994
○Round Of 16: 1990
○ Colombia vs Japan:
June 19th 3:00PM, Mordovia Arena
○ Colombia vs Poland:
June 24th 7:00PM Kazan Arena
○ Columbia vs Senegal:
June 28th 3:00PM, Samara Arena
●Coach/Manager’s Quotes :
Colombia’s manager is Jose Pekerman and he has been in charge 2012. Since he took over he continues to push this Colombia team forward. Pekerman, a well known name in Latin American football obviously did well with this team during the last World Cup in Brazil as well as taking them to the Copa America semi-finals just a few years ago. He did not do as well as he would have liked in World Cup Qualification round as Colombia finished third behind Uruguay and Brazil. Given their talent and who they have in their disposal, Colombia should have done a lot better than what they did it during the qualifying stages. However now that they have qualified in the World Cup I believe he can get into his element and take this team to distance.
Tactically, sometimes he likes to play with one Striker which I disagree with but he knows how to win. France is one of the favorites to win this World Cup and his Colombia team went from two goals down in France to beat them in an International Friendly. Friendly’s don’t really count but it still was amazing to see the fight his team gave. His players are ready to fight for him in Russia and he will be ready and have some tricks up his sleeve for what lies ahead
● Writer’s Take:
During the 2014 World Cup Colombia put together their best ever performance in the history of the competition, making the quarterfinals as they took the World by storm as one of the surprise packages in Brazil. While Colombia are not considered one of the favorites I believe they may find themselves in a position to repeat what they did for years ago in Brazil. I see them as a ‘Dark-horse’, a team that again could make the quarter-finals. Colombia has lost some players from that team but they’ve gained several as well not to mention some of their big stars have matured into bigger players and than they were four years ago. This team is led by James Rodriguez a player that lit up the World Cup last time around. Despite just eight goals for Bayern Munich he’s been instrumental in their Midfield and played a big role in the Bavarians getting into the semi final of the Champions League. Since his last World Cup he’s won two champions leagues and a league title for Real Madrid before making his move to Germany. This Colombian team also has more star power with Juan Cuadrado, who has won 3 Scudetti and been to two Champions League finals with Juventus since the 2014 World Cup. Not to mention Falcao, who has finally found form again as this team could once again be one filled with surprises. They have been grouped with Poland, South Korea and Senegal and I fully expect them to finish top of their group probably winning all three games. I believe this team will get back to the quarter finals.
Colombia do have some issues just like anyone else they’re definitely not the favorites but they have everything they need to pull off a deep run once again. I’m not sure that they can push further than the quarterfinals but a quarter finals appearance in back-to-back World Cups would be excellent for the development of Colombian football. I think they certainly have what it takes to do it again.