2018 World Cup: Colombia…The Dark Horse?

World Cup 2014 Quarter-Finalists, Colombia, have the quality to do some serious damage in this year’s tournament.

The South American nation is hoping to re-create the success they experienced in the 1990s, where they got to the round of 16 in 1990. In the 1994 qualifiers,  didn’t lose a match in the whole of the qualifying process.

Qualifying for Russia:

Colombia failed to beat any of the teams that finished above them in the qualifiers. Hence, why there is some doubt over whether they can beat the better teams in the latter stages of the competition. Not to forget they finished 4th in the qualifiers for the World Cup. Only Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina, did better than them in qualifying.

It is widely accepted that South America is one of the toughest regions to qualify from, with just 4 qualifying automatically and the possibility of a fifth nation qualifying via a play-off. Just four points separated 3rd (Argentina) and 7th (Paraguay).  This stat alone gives you a glimpse into how hard it is to qualify from this region.

James Rodriguez was Colombia’s top scorer in qualifying, with a total of 6 goals in the 18 games he featured in.
He certainly will be the star man once again for Los Cafeteros. The attacking midfielder has established himself at the highest level, having won a La Liga, Bundesliga and two Champions Leagues.

Image result for james rodriguez

James Rodriguez has established himself as one of Europe’s brightest midfielders ( Image via Getty Images)

2014 reflection:

Topping the group with a maximum of 9 points, Colombia defeated Greece, Ivory Coast and Japan, scoring a total of nine in the process. The round of 16 saw La Tricolor face the runners-up of England’s group (Group D), Uruguay. A brace from James Rodriguez at the Maracana Stadium was enough to end the hopes of their fellow South-American’s went on to face the hosts Brazil in the quarter-finals.

This spelled the end of a fantastic campaign for Colombia, as goals from Thiago Silva and David Luiz were enough to send the hosts through, with James’ late goal not being enough to inspire a full comeback. James Rodriguez, who is in the preliminary squad, won the golden boot in the 2014 Brazil World Cup, scoring a total of 6, one more than Thomas Muller and two more than Neymar.

James’ class even saw him being snapped up by Real Madrid, a transfer fee worth £60 million, and could that inspire more Colombian stars to shine in Russia this summer, the world is watching. Colombia also won the Fairplay award, the award for the least yellow and red cards, and also fouls.

2018 Russia:

The South American side is in a group with Japan, Poland and Senegal. A pretty even group looking from the outside in, and could prove to be a tight affair for Colombia. Colombia is ranked 20th in the FIFA World Rankings and was 4th in 2014. A fall from grace after the last World Cup sees them below countries like Chile, who haven’t even qualified for this years’ tournament.

Colombia’s preliminary squad (23- man squad yet announced): David Ospina, Camilo Vargas, Ivan Arboleda, Jose Fernando Cuadrado; Cristian Zapata, Davinson Sanchez, Santiago Arias, Oscar Murillo, Frank Fabra, Johan Mojica, Yerry Mina, William Tesillo, Bernardo Espinosa, Stefan Medina, Farid Diaz; Wilmar Barrios, Carlos Sanchez, Jefferson Lerma, Jose Izquierdo, James Rodriguez, Giovanni Moreno, Abel Aguilar, Mateus Uribe, Yimmi Chara, Juan Fernando Quintero, Edwin Cardona, Juan Guillermo Cuadrado, Gustavo Cuellar, Sebastian Perez; Radamel Falcao Garcia, Duvan Zapata, Miguel Borja, Carlos Bacca, Luis Fernando Muriel, Teofilo Gutierrez.

You may recognise some familiar names in that list, such as:
Ospina (Arsenal second choice Goalkeeper), Zapat(AC Milan), Davinson Sanchez (Tottenham Hotspur), Yerry Mina (Barcelona), Carlos Sanchez (Fiorentina), Jose Izquierdo (Brighton and Hove Albion), James Rodriguez (Bayern Munich-loan), Juan Cuadrado (Juventus), Radamel Falcao (AS Monaco), Carlos Bacca (AC Milan), Luis Muriel (Sevilla).

The only side I see troubling Colombia in the group is Senegal, who have a lot of quality in attack, and it will be interesting to see how Davinson Sanchez and Yerry Mina deal with them. The bookmakers have set the odds for Colombia to win at 40/1. We would like to hear your views on whether Colombia can go all the way. Comment below.

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