The former Copa America winners will appear at the World Cup for the sixth time and they are hoping to duplicate their performance from four years ago when they reached the quarter-finals in Brazil, but the hosts proved to be too strong for them at the time. Colombia missed on the three previous tournaments prior to Brazil, but now they have a team capable of going a step further.
Colombia was drawn in the Group H together with Poland, the four-time Asian Cup winner Japan, and Senegal, and José Pékerman’s side has a solid chance go through to the 1/8 finals, but this is a quite tricky group. Colombia is currently in the 16th place in the FIFA world rankings, Poland is in the 10th position, Senegal is in the 28th place, while Japan is the worst-ranked team is in the 60th position.
The attacking midfield and attack, as well as counter-attacks, are Colombia’s biggest weapons, and José Pékerman is pleased to have such players as James Rodriguez, Falcao, and Carlos Bacca on his team. Along with experienced Teofilo Gutierrez, they combined for 79 goals, while the rest of the players didn’t score even half of that amount, so it’s clear who’s going to run the game for the Tricolors. James will spend more time in the attack than in midfield, which can hurt the Colombians in some situations.
The two holding midfielders past their best a few years ago and the fact that Carlos Sánchez and Abel Aguilar have 65 years in total must be concerning for Pekerman because, in case of accumulated fatigue or an injury, he will not have a suitable player who could substitute them. Juan Cuadrado is a classic right winger and he cannot help in the heart of the midfield, while other players such as Wílmar Barrios, Mateus Uribe, and Jefferson Lerma simply don’t have a required experience and quality to step up when needed. They can be easily outrun in the middle of the park, and that’s why the counters will be Pekerman’s answer when it happens.
To Reach Semi-Finals: +550
To Reach Quarter-Finals: +187
Group Qualifying Yes/No: -275/+200
Group Phase Matches:
Colombia’s player to watch
The captain Radamel Falcao might be the biggest star of this team, but I think the playmaker James Rodríguez is the most important player of Colombia as he is responsible for the set-pieces, creating attacking plays, and is a link between the midfield and attack. James was the top scorer in the previous World Cup with six goals and bagged six more in the qualifications, so it’s clear who the boss in this squad is.
After struggling at Real Madrid in the last season, Rodriguez made a smart move and went to Bayern Munich where he played an important role in the 2017/18, scoring eight goals with 14 assists in 39 appearances. He played better as the season came to an end, and I believe he will translate a fine form here in Russia.
Colombia’s World Cup 2018 Prediction
One of the most exciting teams at this World Cup should progress to the Round of 16 without issues, and not only that; I think they can go to the quarter-finals, at least. I believe they will beat Japan in the opening round, so everything after that should be easier for the Colombians, but the tilt with Poland will probably give us an answer who will finish at the top of the group.
Coach: José Pékerman