Predicting a World Cup winner is problematic – ask Pele.
Nonetheless, as football fans it’s in our nature to put together a number of factors which lead us to believe in the likelihood of a potential champion. I won’t go as far to state that I think Colombia will win the World Cup in 2014, but I think they have as good a chance as any team other than Spain.
Let’s look at the evidence.
First and foremost, it would be absurd to ignore El Tigre. Radamel Falcao is the man who Colombian hopes will ultimately rest on. Although Mario Yepes wears the captain's armband, Falcao is the man whose form will dictate how Colombia fare in the tournament.
Alongside the highly-coveted Atletico Madrid forward, Colombia have Jackson Martinez, scorer of 27 goals in 31 games for Porto this season, Teófilo Gutiérrez of Cruz Azul, who has a respectable 8 goals in 19 caps, or Dorlan Pabón, who has been a significant threat as part of the Real Betis attack since his January loan move from Parma. Firepower won’t be something you’ll find Colombia lacking in.
The 3-5-2 formation employed by coach Jose Pekerman against Guatemala in a recent friendly could be the best formation for Colombia. It allows them to stretch the play and make the best use of the pace and directness they have at their disposal in the form of James Rodgriuez, Juan Zúñiga, Juan Cuadrado and Pablo Armero.
Options for Colombia in the centre of the park are deceptively strong too. Fredy Guarin has begun to play an increasingly-important role for Inter Milan, providing dynamism, a decent range of passing and a shot that will have even the best keepers concerned. 20-year-old Juan Quintero, another of the Colombian Serie A contingent, looks a fine player, and was awarded best player at the South American Youth Championship earlier this year, a competition won by Colombia. With another year of Serie A experience he could well be primed to make his mark on the world's stage in Brazil.
Behind the two Italian-based midfielders, Colombia can entrust Abel Aguilar with retaining the ball and putting himself about when required.
At the back is where Colombia will find themselves asked the most questions. The aforementioned captain, 37-year-old Yepes seems likely to lead the nation out in Brazil, which could result in a severe susceptibility to pace. Currently on loan at Milan, Cristian Zapata has looked significantly better this season than the last at Villareal, which bodes well.
With Aquivaldo Mosquera or Luis Perea currently filling the third defensive spot, Colombia could look to one of their recently-victorious under-20s defenders as a viable alternative to sit in front of the reliable David Ospina in goal.
With Jose Pekerman in charge, Colombia have a manager with previous experience at a World Cup, having taken Argentina to the quarter-finals in 2006. Sitting four points off of the top of the qualification table with a game in hand, Colombia are well-placed to banish the ghost of USA '94.
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