Football

Colombia looking to banish past World Cup ghosts

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Colombia over the years may not have set the world alight with their football but they are never far from the limelight for countless reasons, varying from Pablo Escobar's unfortunate own goal which resulted in his suspicious death not too long after in 1994, Carlos Valderrama and his outlandish hair and personality, and Rene Higuita's scorpion kick to name a few.

Colombia have come into this World Cup on a massive high as they qualified behind Argentina comfortably and boast the best defensive record in the CONMEBOL. Carried by Ramadel Falcao's nine and Teofilio Gutierrez's six goals they have come into this World Cup with high expectations, so high in fact that bookmakers marked them up at prices as short as 20/1 to take home the trophy before Falcao's unfortunate knee injury in January which ruled him out of action.

However even with their star striker out of commission, Jose Pekerman has got an abundance of talent at his disposal to call upon; they were put in Group C and immediately named favourites to top it despite it containing African giants Ivory Coast, Euro 2004 winners Greece and Japan who are often considered the best team in Asia.

Fortunately they have hit the ground running in their first group match disposing of Greece 3-0, and it was a reasonably comfortable victory at that. Strikes from Armero, Rodriguez and Gutierrez showed they have goals in every area of the park and this was also against a usually resolute and tough to break down Greek side. This will please their coach who will have seen this as a key hurdle cleared in their first World Cup since France 98.

The current crop of talent has been coined the golden generation of Colombian football and it's difficult to argue with that assessment. Many of the current squad ply their trade in Europe's top divisions - mainly in the Serie A - and many of their players are commanding large fees from their clubs.

Most recently Juan Cuadrado of Fiorentina has been touted for a €40 million move to Barcelona, and with his tricky and skilful playing style combined with lighting pace its not difficult to see why he wouldn't be a hit in Spain.

Players such as James Rodriguez, Cuadrado, Quintero, and Guarin are expected to be the main flair players and creators of chances for the forwards but they also have goals in their locker too. Rodriguez in particular is a major threat to any team with ten goals and 12 assists for Monaco last season, and his transfer fee of €45 million was a record for a Colombian until Falcao trumped that when he made his way over to France.

Guarin is considered a important part of Inter Milan's rebuilding project and has attracted interest from the Premier League, and Quintero is a very talented individual. This abundance of talent is the reason that Columbia are a major threat going forward.

They also have a reliable back line that as mentioned before had the best record in qualifying that will be important in the games against Japan and Ivory Coast, who both possess players that can trouble defences.

The ageing skipper Mario Yepes may be 38 but still plys his trade in Serie A having spent time at PSG where he built his reputation, long with spells at Nantes and A.C Milan for three years - he will be a key presence in organising the Colombian back line.

A lot will also rest on their two fullbacks, Zuniga and Arias, marauding forward. Both possess quick feet and love to get forward and they will be called upon to support their wingers in Colombia's counter-attacks.

With the way the group is looking I believe that they will top the group; they were convincing in the game against Greece and I think the quality of their squad should be enough to ensure they succeed. Much will depend on how well they do against the Ivory Coast but they have more ability all over and they should set up a last 16 meeting with the runners-up of group D which possibly could be England. Now that would be some knockout tie.

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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