After several years of performances which have certainly not met their potential, the class of 2014 could be set to bring in a new era of success in what would be a stark contrast to their underachieving recent past. And for me there really is no reason why Colombia couldn’t go all the way this summer. Yes admittedly even I still wouldn’t categorise the Colombia national team when asked who the best footballing countries are in international football. But it’s only when you delve further into the players Jose Pekerman has at his disposal when you fully realise the vast number of stars that could sparkle this summer, as they have done for their respective league clubs.
Their poster boy and star name must obviously be the AS Monaco centre forward and record signing Radamel Falcao. After signing for Monaco on the Summer of 2013 for a fee to be around 50m, Falcao built on his fantastic form (goals and performances which earned him his big money move) internationally in the qualifying stages for Colombia and was instrumental in their qualification for this summers tournament. Many have put the progression of Colombia in the FIFA World rankings where they current sit in 8th position largely down to the influence of Falcao.
However, midway through the 13/14 Ligue 1 season it was heart in mouth time for both Pekerman and Falcao himself after extensive surgery on a serious knee injury ruled the Colombian out for the rest of the season and cast doubt on his chances to star in this summer’s tournament. Panic time. But following several weeks of light, then moderate training it looked ever more likely the Colombian would feature in this summer’s tournament. Panic over?
Yet as always, and somewhat predictably after a period of renewed optimism for Colombia, there is a twist to every tale and unfortunately for both Colombia and Falcao, there was to be no Fairytale ending. On June 9th, Falcao was ruled out and his absence at this summer’s tournament was confirmed. So is it time for the Group C favourites to panic again? Not at all. Although on paper Falcao may seem to be Colombia’s knight in shining armour, Colombia’s strength in attack stretches further than just the Monaco star. With both Jackson Martinez of FC Porto and Europa League winner and a prolific goalscorer in Liga BBVA this season for Sevilla – Carlos Bacca, Colombia will certainly not struggle for goals. In terms of attacking options from the midfield, Pekerman can look to Serie A star Juan Cuadrado who has been heavily linked with a move to FC Barcelona this summer after a glittering season with Fiorentina.
The likes of Guarin and Quintero who both like Falcao and fellow countryman James Rodriguez have history playing for FC Porto, offer stability mixed with a flair and ferocity which ultimately make Colombia a very dangerous side to face this summer. As far as weaknesses goes, Colombia may struggle in keeping clean sheets with a largely inexperienced back four whose quality when compared to their attacking options is underwhelming. Although if hot prospect Alvarez Balanta can step up and lead from the back as he does for club side River Plate, you may find that any defensive doubts could be erased within no time. Colombia will come up against Greece, Japan and the Ivory Coast in Group C and with a talented squad at their disposal, the sky’s the limit. Should they progress from the group they will most likely meet any one of Italy, England or Uruguay from Group D and it will only be at the round of 16 stage where we really begin to see what Colombia are made of.