Colombia: World Cup 2014 Team Preview
Goalkeepers: David Ospina (Nice), Faryd Mondragon (Deportivo Cali), Camilo Vargas (Santa Fe).
Defenders: Mario Yepes (Atalanta), Cristian Zapata (AC Milan), Carlos Valdes (San Lorenzo), Eder Alvarez Balanta (River Plate), Santiago Arias (PSV Eindhoven), Camilo Zuniga (Napoli), Pablo Armero (West Ham).
Midfielders: Carlos Sanchez (Elche), Fredy Guarin (Inter Milan), Abel Aguilar (Toulouse), Aldo Leao Ramirez (Morelia), Juan Fernando Quintero (Porto), Víctor Ibarbo (Cagliari), James Rodriguez (Monaco), Juan Guillermo Cuadrado (Fiorentina), Alexander Mejia (Atletico Nacional).
Forwards: Jackson Martinez (Porto), Carlos Bacca (Sevilla), Adrian Ramos (Hertha Berlin), Teofilo Gutierrez (River Plate).
Best Ever Finish:Last 16 (1990)
Captain: Mario Yepes
Manager: Jose Pekerman
Colombia finished second behind Argentina in the CONMEBOL qualifying phase and they are well worth their lofty world ranking of fourth.
Jose Pekerman has managed to mould a host of high calibre attacking players into a system that facilitates some enthralling play. Falcao is the team’s biggest name, but he misses out due to injury. But in his place, there is a group of stellar attacking players that Los Cafeteros are set to unleash on the world stage this summer.
Slowly but surely, this team have developed into a side look a bit like the real deal. Not only did they comfortably qualify from their group, but they have beaten some top class opposition in friendly games too – most notably when they travelled to Europe and beat Belgium on their own patch.
This team is brimming with pacey, powerful and intricate talent and predatory instincts of the likes of Jackson Martinez and Carlos Bacca mean they can nick results even when they aren’t playing that well.
But there are a few worries. Especially concerns over the fitness of their star man Falcao, who has missed the almost the entirety of the calendar year with a terrible injury.
Doubts linger over the defence too, where they have little in terms of squad depth. It is perhaps less of a concern when you consider they do have the attacking talent to outscore any team in the competition, though.
If they can keep the aforementioned XI in shape this summer, they’re match almost every team. Factor in the conditions – which will have little bearing on this Colombia team – and it means they could be a dark horse for the title.
Key Man – James Rodriguez
The former Porto forward was snapped up by Monaco last summer for a fee in the region of €45 million, making him the second most expensive player in the history of Portuguese football.
A huge fee, but one that is warranted, for Rodriguez is an exhilarating player to watch. His dribbling is tricky and tight, and when this is combined with his supreme agility and powerful frame, it makes him a undeniably tough prospect for opposition defenders to deal with. The attacking midfielder is also remarkably quick off the mark and possesses a thunderbolt of a left-foot in his armoury.
Whilst Colombia typically operate in a 4-4-2 system with Rodriguez in one of the wide berths, the Monaco man is capable of attacking his marker on the inside, the outside or floating between the lines. He will offer the chief supply line to the centre-forwards and has a huge role to play in Pekerman’s progressive outfit.