Colombia will play in their second consecutive World Cup, something that has not happened since the nineties where they enjoyed three back-to-back finals in the 1990, 1994 and 1998 tournaments. The so-called ‘golden generation’ ended its glory years in Lens with a painful defeat at the hands of the England of Beckham, Shearer and co. After several years with hardly any success at international level, the 2012 arrival of Pékerman at the helm saw the national team re-establish themselves in world football once again.
The appointment of the Argentine as coach made Colombia one of the best teams in the world. They reached the zenith in their performance at the Brazil World Cup of 2014. In that competition, the team excelled in the first phase: winning four group stage matches in style, conceding two goals and scoring nine. In the Last 16 a goal from James Rodriguez saw them eliminate the always-combative Uruguay, although they fell at the quarter-final stage, but with no disgrace to hosts Brazil.
In the 2018 edition of the World Cup, the sixth that the country will have attended, the ‘coffee growers’ will look again to the leadership of James Rodríguez and the goals of a resuscitated Radamel Falcao. Their performances are likely to be key to any hopes of reviving the joys that fans witnessed in Brazil four years ago.
|Preferred system: 4-2-3-1
José Pékerman (Argentina, 1949) has been the Colombian coach since 2012. In the period of time that he has been at the helm he has taken the team to levels unseen since the 90s when Valderrama and co. amazed the world. His promise was seen after the role he played taking the youth teams of Argentina to success, three U-20 World Cups (1995, 1997 and 2001) and two U-20 South American titles (Chile 1997 and Argentina 1999). From the bench he directs dynamic and attractive football, a return to the traditional style that has historically characterized Colombia.
|Club: Bayern Múnich
|Height: 180 cm
|Weight: 75 kg
Top scorer in the South American qualifiers, James Rodríguez heads into this World Cup in search of vindication. His last year at Real Madrid wasn’t good and his move to Munich has been interpreted as an urgent solution to re-finding the player he was not so long ago. It was in the tournament held in Brazil where he showed exactly what he could offer a team and this won him a huge multi-million-euro transfer to the Spanish capital.
Given total freedom in his international role, James is a different footballer when he wears the colours of his country. Outstanding performances in the qualifying phase, most notable in the last match against Peru in Lima, where his goal handed the Colombians a ticket for the World Cup, suggest that he will be the man that leads his country to any level of success in Russia.