Columbia

After not qualifying for the World Cup finals for 16 years from 1998 until 2014, this will be Columbia’s second successive appearance on the world stage, and they should be optimistic for the tournament this summer, having reached the quarter-finals four years ago, their best ever finish at a World Cup finals. With a talented squad and a touch of flair, Columbia look set to be the favourites to qualify from their group, where they will face Senegal, Poland and Japan. Nicknamed ‘Los Cafeteros’ due to the coffee production in the country, Columbia qualified for Russia 2018 with a 1-1 draw in their final qualifying game against Peru.

Although having a strong attacking element to their game, coming from the likes of James Rodriquez and Radamel Falcao, Columbia have shown signs of an unsteady defence during the qualifying campaign, with Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina prone to making calamitous errors. However, it must be noted that they managed to hold rivals Brazil to a 1-1 draw during the qualifiers, proving that they can pull together and dampen talented opponents, even if it does mean sacrificing a lot of their own prowess up front. Should Columbia look to challenge for the World Cup trophy this summer, they will need to be able to balance their attacking game with a strong defensive unit.

Star Players

  • James Rodriquez (Bayern Munich) – Rodriquez shot onto the scene at the 2014 World Cup in neighbouring Brazil, devastating opposition defences and scoring an absolute wonder goal against Uruguay in their 2-0 victory over them in the last 16. On the back of his World Cup performance he secured a move to European giants Real Madrid, however he struggled to impress and break into the first team, and has recently made a loan move to Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga. Fortunately for himself and his country, this has worked out to be a fantastic move, as Rodriquez has shown his talent in helping Bayern secure another German title, while getting crucial game time to make sure he is in the best possible shape for Russia this summer.
  • Radamel Falcao (AS Monaco) – Captain of his country and Columbia’s all-time top goalscorer, the finals in Russia this summer will most likely be Falcao’s last shot at World Cup glory. At 32 years of age, he has recently shown shows of fatigue in his legs, with his once blistering pace burning out. However, he still maintains precision finishing in addition to a fantastically intelligent footballing brain.

Coach

Jose Pekerman – Pekerman previously coached Argentina, where he led them to the 2006 World Cup quarter finals. He was appointed head coach of Columbia in 2012 and has largely been credited with getting them back into the World Cup. He will be looking to improve on the performance of the 2014 finals in Brazil.

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