Colombia vs. Jordan: 6 Things We Learned
Colombia ended its two-game series in Argentina with a 3-0 win over Jordan in the first game of life after “The Tiger” for the South Americans.
Jose Pekerman deemed proper to use this game, probably also taking into consideration the opponent’s level, to try different tactics, formations and to even switch players to different positions.
In a short tournament such as the World Cup, the ability to find quick solutions with different variables might be the difference between elimination and moving on, in that sense Colombia had a very beneficial preparation Friday night.
Here are six things that we leaned from the match.
Defensive Line Formation Variables
Pekerman used an interesting defensive variable in the first half, with Eder Balanta as the key man on it.
Last weekend, when Colombia faced Senegal, Pekerman came out with a clear line of four in the back. Against Jordan that changed, as he started with a line comprised of three center-backs, Mario Yepes, Cristian Zapata and Balanta. That line was complemented on the wings by Juan Zuniga (right) or Pablo Armero (left).
However, when Colombia came out playing from the back, Balanta would add himself into the midfield. Usually, he would position himself toward the left but not all the way on the wing, as Armero and Victor Ibardo were already there. Balanta's movement to the midfield transformed the defense back into a line of four like in the game against Senegal.
The full-backs, Zuniga and Armero, sometimes left the two center-backs alone as they moved up on the wing against Senegal. The Balanta variable might have been Pekerman's answer to giving more aid to the center-backs when the full-backs weren't able to come back in time for their defensive duties.
Ibarbo on the Wings
Victor Ibarbo was used on the midfield's right wing against Senegal and was one of the most outstanding players of the match. For Friday night's game, he started on the left.
Ibarbo did not find the same open spaces that he did against the Africans, but he still had a decent game on the left side. With his skill he was able to dribble defenders and send crosses. Not all was going down the wing for Ibarbo, when he had the ball and the play called for a pause, he gave that moment for Colombia to slow down.
When he was moved to the right on the second half, Ibardo kept doing what he was doing in the left. Ibarbo even made a very dangerous cross that Adrian Ramos sent wide.
Long-Distance Shots Option
Colombia is a team that gives priority to the possession, and they favor the passing game, which sometimes makes it hard to find space in the last third of the field. However, the Colombians showed that they could also rely on good long-distance strikes.
On the second half, during the minutes where the South Americans weren't dangerously finishing the buildup of their plays, that's when Juan Cuadrado and Santiago Arias tried a couple of shots from long distance, showing Colombia the need to use that variable. Later on, Cuadrado tried another one that hit the crossbar.
On the first half, one of the only players to try from long distance was Fredy Guarin; that time his shot went wide. In the last minutes of the game he tried again, and this time he blasted a thunder into the net for Colombia's third goal.
Injuries: Colombia’s Worst Enemy
Earlier on the week, Pekerman announced the difficult decision of leaving three players out of the final roster, including Radamel Falcao and Amaranto Perea due to injuries. Apparently injuries are still harassing Colombia.
During the game against Jordan, Carlos Sanchez was hit hard, and his ankle twisted in an ugly manner, but it seemed like he was fine as he continued to play. His eventual substitution was for technical reasons.
However, it was reported by the commentators on Fox Sports Argentina, that Aldo Leao might have an injury that will leave him out of the World Cup. According to Fox Sports commentators, he injured his right knee after a collision with his teammate, Juan Cuadrado. Leao did not play Friday, and in an interview after the game, Pekerman said he is going to wait before rushing into a decision.
Colombia’s Striker Options
As we all now know, Colombia's main man on top during the qualifiers won't be at the World Cup. It looks like after the two preparations games, Teo Gutierrez has his place as one of the starting forwards. If Pekerman decides to start with two strikers, it seems that Carlos Bacca might have the edge for that other spot.
Usually, Colombia will play with two forwards from the start, something that surprisingly wasn't the case Friday. The fact that Gutierrez was the one who took that spot and that he also started vs. Senegal, indicate he will start in Brazil.
Friday, he didn't have clear chances to score, but he did manage to control the ball in the box with three defenders around him, and he sent a shot that provoked the penalty kick that James Rodriguez scored on.
On the second half, Teo came out and Pekerman sent in two forwards, Carlos Bacca and Adrian Ramos. Bacca's chance came on a header after a cross from the left side, but Jordan's goalie saved it. Bacca also sent a clinical pass to Cuadrado that ended on a penalty kick. While Ramos chance came off a cross from Ibarbo from the right, his strike went wide.
Jackson Martinez did not see any playing time, despite many having thought he could be the one taking on the position left vacant by Falcao.
Midfielders Making a Difference on Offense
James Rodriguez and Juan Cuadrado are the playmakers who make a difference on Colombia's attack. Rodriguez did it in the first half and Cuadrado in the second half.
Rodriguez had the freedom to move on the center and into both wings, making it hard for Jordan defenders to stop him. He had the first clear chance to score after a combination with Teo, but he missed.
On a corner kick, Rodriguez crossed exactly to Yepes run, and the center-back header went just inches wide. The Monaco midfielder also opened the scoreboard by scoring a penalty kick. With Falcao out, it looks like he will be the designated penalty-taker for Colombia.
Cuadrado sort of took James' role on the second half, with the freedom to switch from sides. The Fiorentina midfielder had a long-range shot hit the crossbar and also caused the second penalty kick in favor of Colombia when he played as the No. 9 in that given play. Cuadrado made it 2-0 by scoring from the spot.