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Colombia World Cup 2014: Team Guide for FIFA Tournament

Nick DorringtonSpecial to Bleacher ReportJune 3, 2014

Colombia World Cup 2014: Team Guide for FIFA Tournament

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    Fernando Vergara/Associated Press

    Colombia have been earmarked as a potential dark horse for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. They received a favourable group stage draw and will be confident of at least progressing to the round of 16.

    Los Cafeteros qualified for their first World Cup since 1998 by finishing second in the South American qualifying group. They will be without star striker Radamel Falcao Garcia, who failed to recover from a serious knee injury in time for the tournament, but with an experienced coach and other good attacking options, they should still be fancied to have a good World Cup.

    Find out everything you need to know about Colombia in our team guide.

Road to the Finals

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    Fernando Vergara/Associated Press

    Colombia began the qualifying process under the leadership of Leonel Alvarez, who was hastily promoted following the abrupt dismissal of Hernan Dario Gomez. His side began the campaign with an impressive victory away to Bolivia but a home draw with Venezuela and defeat to Argentina saw him relieved of his duties shortly thereafter.

    The Argentinian coach Jose Pekerman was the man charged with righting the ship. He did much more than that, leading Colombia to five victories in their next six qualifiers, including a 4-0 thrashing of Uruguay and a 3-1 victory away to Chile. Three wins, two draws and two defeats in their remaining fixtures were sufficient for Colombia to secure a place in Brazil.

Squad

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    Christopher Lee/Getty Images

    Jose Pekerman named his final 23-man squad on June 2, as per FIFA.com

    Goalkeepers: David Ospina (Nice), Faryd Mondragon (Deportivo Cali), Camilo Vargas (Santa Fe)

    Defenders: Mario Yepes (Atalanta), Juan Camilo Zuniga (Napoli), Pablo Armero (Napoli), Cristian Zapata (Milan), Carlos Valdes (San Lorenzo), Santiago Arias (PSV Eindhoven), Eder Balanta (River Plate)

    Midfielders: Fredy Guarin (Internazionale), Abel Aguilar (Toulouse), Carlos Sanchez (Elche), Alexander Mejia (Atletico Nacional), Aldo Ramirez (Morelia), Juan Cuadrado (Fiorentina), James Rodriguez (Monaco), Juan Fernando Quintero (Porto)

    Forwards: Adrian Ramos (Borussia Dortmund), Carlos Bacca (Sevilla), Jackson Martinez (Porto), Teofilo Gutierrez (River Plate), Victor Ibarbo (Cagliari)

    For detailed information about each member of the squad, check out our player-by-player guide.

Manager Profile

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    Victor R. Caivano/Associated Press

    Jose Pekerman built his reputation with excellent work as coach and coordinator of Argentina’s youth national teams. He was promoted to the job of senior national team coach in 2004 and led Argentina to the quarter-finals of the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

    Pekerman is a methodical coach who consistently seeks the correct balance between defence and attack. His Argentina side were rightly lauded for their attractive, short-passing style—centred around the wonderful Juan Roman Riquelme—but they were also solid in defence. Fabricio Coloccini was often deployed at right-back as a counterpoint to the more attack-minded Juan Pablo Sorin.

    The position he inherited when he took charge of Colombia necessitated a more attacking approach at home in Barranquilla—where he regularly fielded two strikers and two attacking midfielders—but away from home his side were a typical, well-balanced Pekerman outfit.

    The 0-0 draw away to Argentina during qualifying and clean sheets in friendlies against Netherlands and Belgium late last year are more representative of what to expect in Brazil.

Star Man

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    Fernando Vergara/Associated Press

    James Rodriguez looks well placed to have an excellent World Cup. The 22-year-old grew increasingly influential as the qualifying campaign progressed and comes into the tournament on the back of a strong first season in France with Monaco.

    Following impressive performances for Colombia’s U-20 side, Rodriguez was parachuted into the senior national team for the start of the World Cup qualifying process. Handed the No. 10 shirt by Jose Pekerman, his slick dribbling, accurate crossing and eye for a through ball saw him quickly become Colombia’s primary creative force.

    The Cucuta native has enjoyed a steady rise through his career to date, from his homeland to Argentina, onwards to Portugal and now France. He will see this summer’s tournament as a superb opportunity to display his talent on the global stage.

One to Watch

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    Christopher Lee/Getty Images

    Juan Cuadrado will be Colombia’s secret weapon in Brazil. Whether from the start or from the substitutes bench, his direct and unpredictable dribbling unbalances opposing defences, creating space in which others can profit.

    He plays the same role for his club side Fiorentina, for whom he scored 11 goals and provided five assists in the recently concluded Serie A season. He completed more successful dribbles per match (3.7) than any other player in Italy and his performances attracted the attention of Barcelona, who are said to be keen to sign him as a replacement for Daniel Alves.

    Capable of playing wide in midfield or at full-back, Cuadrado’s pace, energy and dribbling ability ensure that he will have an important part to play for Colombia this summer.

World Cup Record

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    Simon Bruty/Getty Images
    Team Statistics 
    World Cup Appearances4
    Titles0
    Best Performanceround of 16 (1990)
    Total Wins   3
    Total Draws2
    Total Defeats8
    Player Statistics 
    Most Appearances10 (Carlos Valderrama and Freddy Rincon)
    Most Goals2 (Bernardo Redin, Adolfo Valencia)
    Most Goals In A Match1 (Various)
    Faryd Mondragon is the only member of the current group to have previously been involved in a FIFA World Cup squad. He was an unused substitute in 1994 and Colombia’s first choice goalkeeper at the 1998 World Cup in France.
    Jose Pekerman reached the quarter-finals in 2006 as coach as of his native Argentina.

     

Group Fixtures

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    Buda Mendes/Getty Images

    Colombia vs. Greece, June 14 (Estadio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte)

    Colombia vs. Ivory Coast, June 19 (Estadio Nacional Mane Garrincha, Brasilia)

    Colombia vs. Japan, June 24 (Arena Pantanal, Cuiaba)

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