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5 Key Questions for Colombia to Answer Against Jordan

Daniel ReyFeatured Columnist IDecember 1, 2016

5 Key Questions for Colombia to Answer Against Jordan

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    Victor R. Caivano/Associated Press

    Colombia will play their second and last pre-World Cup friendly against Jordan on Friday night. Coach Jose Nestor Pekerman still has several questions that need answering before the finals.

    After a poor second-half performance against Senegal, Los Cafeteros could do with a morale-boosting win ahead of their first match in Group C against Greece

1. Central Defence

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    When not celebrating a goal, 38-year-old Mario Alberto Yepes is a cool head in an exciting team
    When not celebrating a goal, 38-year-old Mario Alberto Yepes is a cool head in an exciting teamAssociated Press

    Who will partner captain Mario Alberto Yepes at the heart of the Colombian defence at the World Cup?

    Carlos Valdes of San Lorenzo started against Senegal, but Pekerman should also consider the powerful Cristian Zapata of AC Milan. Inexperienced but highly talented 20-year-old Eder Alvarez Balanta is another option.

    Combinations are so important in this position, and with Yepes guaranteed to start, Colombia should go for the dynamic Zapata or Alvarez Balanta to cover space for their ageing skipper. 

2. Full-Back

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    Right-back Camilo Zuniga has just returned from an injury sustained in October that his manager at Napoli, Rafa Benitez, termed a "mystery," according to Goal.com.

    He played a half against Senegal, looking much better in attack than in defence. In particular, he was slow to retreat following his involvement further upfield.

    The other option would be PSV’s Santiago Arias.

    Although Colombia conceded twice after he came on, and the first was in the right-back area, Arias had a good game. He played with more structure than Zuniga, while still offering an offensive threat. 

3. Style of Play

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    Coach Jose Pekerman is a well-known exponent of possession football. It was under him that Argentina scored their memorable team goal against Serbia and Montenegro in 2006.

    Under Pekerman, Colombia (see video above) scored a similar goal in a friendly against Mexico in 2012.

    He must now decide whether to stick with that style of play or try to attack the opposition with a higher tempo, utilising the trickery of James Rodriguez and pace of Fiorentina’s Juan Guillermo Cuadrado.

    The success of this tactical decision will be crucial to Colombia’s chances at the World Cup, and Friday’s match against Jordan provides a great opportunity to see how they will play. 

4. Formation

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    Linked to the style of play, Pekerman has favoured a dynamic 4-2-2-2 formation, with the full-backs providing plenty of width going forward.

    However, in the absence of talisman Radamel Falcao Garcia, Pekerman should strongly consider giving key playmaker James Rodriguez a more central role.

    James would exert more influence on the team playing in the middle, rather than cutting in from the left. As a result, a 4-2-3-1 with James as the No. 10 would give Colombia more fluency and attacking threat. 

5. Forward Pairing

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    Losing Falcao is a major setback, but Colombia are fortunate to have strong candidates to fill his boots.

    The question is, if Pekerman plays his 4-2-2-2, who should play up front?

    From the friendly against Senegal, he seems intent to play Sevilla’s Carlos Bacca alongside Teofilo Gutierrez of River Plate. However, neither are Colombia’s deadliest marksmen.

    "Teo" came into his own in qualifying, working hard to complement Falcao, but he is not a deadly finisher.

    However, given that Teo and Bacca used to play together with FC Junior, it is probably to their good mutual understanding that Pekerman will turn.

    Indeed, Teo has been given the No. 9 shirt vacated by Falcao.

    With that being said, Friday’s match may give the top scorer in the Portuguese Liga, Jackson Martinez, a chance to stake his claim.

    The Porto forward is strong, mobile and quick on the turn. In cagey World Cup encounters, he could be the answer Colombia seek. 

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