Yellow shirts, enthralling attacking play and rhythmic celebrations; for so long that’s been the narrative for Brazilian teams that have dazzled us all at the World Cup. But in their own backyard, there’s another team stealing the show.
While seven of the eight quarter-finalists in the 2014 World Cup were made to battle exceptionally hard for their place in the last-eight, Colombia progressed with a swagger. They swept aside Uruguay with a wonderfully effervescent performance, putting together a 90 minutes that was bristling with dynamism and impetus.
Jose Pekerman’s side have won all four of their games in so far in the competition. They’ve been the standout team at the Brazil finals and in James Rodriguez, they are in possession of the player of the tournament so far.
Next up they take on host nation in what’s set to be an encapsulating quarter-final clash. Here’s your full rundown when it comes to Pekerman’s Cafeteros team and a look at how they will fare against the tournament favorites.
Likely Line-Up vs. Brazil:
What have they done well?
While this team have been far from profligate at the back, it’s their forward forays that have really caught the eye so far. This Colombia team attack with sustained vigor and that makes it incredibly difficult for the opposition to keep the likes of James, Juan Cuadrado and Teofilo Gutierrez pinned down.
They can attack within a variety of different tactical blueprints too. Pekerman has utilized a host of different systems in the opening four games switching from 4-2-3-1, to 4-1-4-1 and against Uruguay to the 4-2-2-2 shape that they used throughout their successful qualifying campaign.
It means that if things aren’t going well, Colombia have the capability to shuffle the pack and move players into different positions. James and Cuadrado in particular are very adaptable and interchange with unnerving menace for opposition back-fours.
The two Colombian full-backs—Pablo Armero and Juan Zuniga—also push forward whenever they get a chance, making unyieldingly energetic vertical forays up and down the left and right flank respectively. The holding midfield duo of Sanchez and Aguilar cover the rampaging duo and the experienced centre-back duo of Mario Yepes and Cristian Zapata astutely.
Which players have shone?
Indisputably, the star man in the tournament so far has been Colombia’s playmaker James. He’s been simply scintillating, causing panic in the opposition’s defense either operating as an orthodox no.10 or from a wider role.