Update from Tuesday, June 3
Hoy solo puedo sonreír por haberlo intentado hasta el final. pic.twitter.com/qzDkcT9gyj— Radamel Falcao (@FALCAO) June 2, 2014
When Colombia travel to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup, they'll be without the services of their top marksman. Radamel Falcao has lost his race against time in order to be fit for the tournament and was left off the final 23-man roster, per Goal's Robin Bairner:
The Monaco striker admitted that while he wanted to play at the World Cup, he wasn't physically ready to handle the duty, per Colombian football journalist Carl Worswick:
Falcao: "I had a lot of hope of playing, but I just have to carry on and support my teammates from the sidelines."— Carl Worswick (@cworswick) June 2, 2014
Falcao: "I'm still not ready and I didn't want to take a place away from one of my teammates who was 100% fit."— Carl Worswick (@cworswick) June 2, 2014
Arguably no player has been more important toward helping Colombia reach their first World Cup in 16 years. He scored nine goals during CONMEBOL qualification and was the spearhead of a lethal attack, per Goal's Max Bentley:
Falcao made a huge contribution to helping Colombia qualify for their first World Cup since '98 - nine goals. Shame he misses out #ElTigre— Max Bentley (@MaxBentley1) June 2, 2014
Falcao's status for the tournament has been in doubt ever since he had surgery to repair a torn ACL back in January. Procedures like that normally require several months of recovery, not to mention the amount of time he would need to get back to match fitness.
In the end, it was simply too much.
At least coach Jose Pekerman has had plenty of time to plan for a future without his best player. He will have spent the last few weeks and months figuring out how to get the most out of his squad in Falcao's absence.
Now, more pressure will be heaped upon Teo Gutierrez, who became a solid strike partner for Falcao. His ability to drop deeper in the attack allowed Falcao to remain more of a poacher, which suits his skill set. Gutierrez should still be able to play more of a secondary striker role, with either Carlos Bacca or Jackson Martinez likely playing in a more advanced position.
Both players have accomplished goal-scoring records with their respective clubs, but their international records are much less decorated.
Colombia should be able to advance out of the group stage at the World Cup, but their chances of advancing much further have undoubtedly dwindled with the absence of Falcao.