James Rodriguez Won't Start Colombia vs. Japan World Cup Match with Calf Injury

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistJune 19, 2018

Colombia's midfielder James Rodriguez takes part in a training session in Kazan on June 17, 2018, ahead of their Russia 2018 World Cup Group H football match against Japan. (Photo by LUIS ACOSTA / AFP)        (Photo credit should read LUIS ACOSTA/AFP/Getty Images)
LUIS ACOSTA/Getty Images

Colombia captain James Rodriguez was deemed not fit enough to start the team's FIFA World Cup opener with Japan on Tuesday because of a calf injury. 

The tournament's Twitter account confirmed the two starting lineups for the match in Saransk, Russia:

FIFA World Cup 🏆 @FIFAWorldCup

TEAM NEWS | #COLJPN Here are the Starting XIs... #WorldCup https://t.co/86LFG2Ssjv

As reported by ESPN, the Bayern Munich man has been suffering with a knock. He missed training on Friday, and while he returned to the field for practice on Monday, he has not been deemed fit enough to feature by manager Jose Pekerman.

According to ESPN FC, Rodriguez will be available from the bench:


James Rodriguez had an incredible 2014 World Cup -- winning the Golden Boot. Today, he begins the 2018 World Cup on the bench for Colombia... https://t.co/eEOhS7QAUQ

The news comes as a blow to Colombians, who will have fresh memories of what Rodriguez did on the World Cup stage four years ago.

In Brazil he netted six goals as Los Cafeteros made a run to the quarter-finals, when the hosts eventually knocked them out. Rodriguez's stunning goal against Uruguay in the second round, when he controlled the ball with his chest and volleyed home from distance, was one of the tournament's best moments.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JUNE 28:  James Rodriguez of Colombia celebrates scoring his team's second goal and his second of the game during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil round of 16 match between Colombia and Uruguay at Maracana on June 28, 2014 in Rio de
Alexandre Loureiro/Getty Images

Japan also felt Rodriguez's wrath in that World Cup, as he inspired Colombia to a 4-1 win in the group stages after entering the game as a substitute.

While Rodriguez has endured inconsistency since that tournament following a tough stint at Real Madrid, as we can see here, he has been rejuvenated for Bayern Munich in 2017-18:

WhoScored.com @WhoScored

James Rodriguez vs Shinji Kagawa Which Bundesliga attacker will earn the better WhoScored rating today? 🔁 = Rodriguez ❤️ = Kagawa #COL #JPN #WorldCup https://t.co/QiwGn0rfUn

Colombia still have attacking talent in abundance, with Radamel Falcao set to make his debut at the competition. The forward missed the World Cup four years ago due to an anterior cruciate ligament problem.

Also in the attacking portion of the XI is Juventus star Juan Cuadrado, while Brighton & Hove Albion man Jose Izquierdo lines up on the opposite flank. Juan Quintero is expected to take over in Rodriguez's usual position behind the centre-forward.