Monaco Forward Radamel Falcao's Top 6 Colombia Moments
Back in the '90s, Carlos Valderrama was Colombia’s most symbolic player. After he left, a void needed to be filled. And then Radamel Falcao Garcia, aka "El Tigre," came along.
During his early years with the senior national team, Falcao suffered, couldn’t find the net and had to struggle through serious injuries since his days at the under-17 international level. El Tigre did not give up and always came back stronger, becoming as one of the top strikers in the world in recent years.
He is currently trying to recover as fast as possible from an injury suffered last January, with the hopes of being ready in time for Brazil 2014. As a matter of fact, all of Colombia is waiting for him; they want to vibrate with Falcao’s goals this summer.
Here are six of Falcao’s top performances with Colombia.
Early Shining with Colombia U-20
A golden Colombian generation started to take shape back in 2005, when as the host nation Colombia won the under-20 CONMEBOL championships and earned a spot in the youth World Cup.
One of the players in the squad was a young promising forward from River Plate, Radamel Falcao Garcia. And even though he wasn’t the first-choice forward during the tournament, he managed to score his first goal with the under-20 team against powerhouse Argentina in the first round.
Coming Back Stronger to Score with Colombia
Recovering from injuries isn’t a new challenge in Falcao’s career, and coming back from them to do what he does best—score goals—isn’t new either.
During the World Cup qualifiers for South Africa, he scored the solitary victory goal against Peru. The goal was nothing special, as the Colombian just had to push the ball while standing in the small box.
So what makes this goal relevant? It was El Tigre's first official goal with the senior national team. It also happened after he had recovered from an injury months earlier and ended his scoreless streak of almost 10 games in qualifiers.
Copa America Meets the Tiger
Falcao has three braces with Colombia.
The first one came in Copa America 2011 against Bolivia in the last game of the group stage. The match ended in a 2-0 victory for the Colombians that sent them to the quarterfinals as the No. 1-seeded team of a group that included host country Argentina.
Falcao’s second goal came from a penalty kick; ironically, a few days later he missed a key penalty against Peru that proved to be costly as Colombia was eliminated. El Tigre had his revenge from the 12-yard spot a couple of years later, when he scored two in a very significant game.
If he is healthy enough to be on the pitch in Brazil, he’ll likely be the designated taker of a potential penalty in favor of Colombia.
First Brace on the Road to Brazil
Falcao converted his first brace in a World Cup qualifier match against Paraguay with elegant finishes that remind us what golazos (amazing goals) look like.
On the first goal, The Tiger broke the Paraguayan defender's hip with a cutback move and then curled the ball with a strike into the far post upper 90. If you remember Falcao’s first goal finish against Athletic Bilbao in the European League final 2012, this is sort of a replica but with the Colombian jersey.
His second goal of the day deserved just as much credit. He went through two defenders, and when goalkeeper Diego Barreto came out, the Colombian striker sent the ball to the net with a classy chip.
Dramatic Brace from the Penalty Spot to Qualify for the World Cup
Two of the hottest teams in South America in 2013 were Chile and Colombia, who played a thriller game in October. The match also featured a face-to-face between two of the most highly regarded forwards of the continent in recent times: Alexis Sanchez and Radamel Falcao.
Chile outperformed Colombia in the first half and took a 3-0 lead, with two goals from Sanchez.
With less than 15 minutes to play and Colombia down 3-1, Falcao scored a brace via penalty kicks. He took the responsibility of converting both penalties awarded and equalized the match.
The final result meant more than an epic comeback; it meant Colombia had qualified for the World Cup for the first time since France 1998.
Striking in Europe Against Belgium
Last time Radamel Falcao scored with Colombia was in a highly competitive friendly match in November.
The rising powers of CONMEBOL and UEFA, Colombia and Belgium, faced each other in Brussels. Falcao scored by eluding the Belgian goalie and shooting into the empty goal. Colombia ended up winning 2-0.
A couple of months later, he suffered an ACL injury that affected his chances of playing in Brazil 2014. Rehab seems to be going well so far, and Colombia hope that his next goal with the national team happens in June.