Halftime Sports

Brazil 2014 Team Preview: Colombia

March 29, 2014

Halftime is extremely excited to get off of the European continent and review a team with a little more spice. Colombia’s footballing stock has risen over the past few years with the advent of players like Jackson Martinez, James Rodriguez, Fredy Guarín, and of course Monaco frontman Radamel Falcao. Colombia placed into a relatively even group and will feel confident about their chances of advancing. Considering their offensive talent, they could even make a run deep into the tournament a la Uruguay 2010. The Tricolor’s success on their home continent will depend on a variety of factors.


Colombia’s choices in net are few. The role of starter will likely fall to resident madman David Ospina. The Nice goalie has proven time and time again that he’s willing to throw himself in front of anything… aaaaanything. Good thing too, considering the caliber of defense in front of him. He could be the difference late on in a few games.

If there’s one weakness in the Colombian team, it’s the less than reliable backline. Often out of position, the Colombian defense can be more attacking minded than its midfield. Players like Juan Zúñiga and Pablo Armero live life on the wings as much as they possibly can, which usually leaves the center defense wide open.

Speaking of the center of defense, Mario Yepes may see his last major international tournament in Brazil. The 38-year-old Atalanta Bergamo defender’s best days are behind him, but he may just be able to muster up one last hurrah. There’s no doubt that Yepes’ former AC Milan teammate Cristián Zapata will make the plane to South America. Zapata is one of Colombia’s most consistent defenders and sees a lot of game time at the club level. In all seriousness, the Colombian backline could lineup in any number of ways come June.

The midfield is much more solid than what’s behind it. Inter star Fredy Guarín will anchor what’s sure to be more of a secondary strikeforce, providing cover for when his teammates are out of position. The Tricolor might not even need strikers considering the fact that James Rodriguez, Juan Quintero, Jackson Martinez, and Juan Cuadrado will feature heavily in the middle of the park.

In lieu of Radamel Falcao’s likely absence, a host of big names will be jockeying to occupy the vacancy up front. Adrián Ramos, the tower of Hertha Berlin, will be sure to nod in a few goals should Rodriguez or Cuadrado send a cross his way. Martinez could move up to striker if the midfield becomes to crowded. Perhaps the most exciting options head coach José Pékerman has up top come in the form of young prospects Víctor Ibarbo and Luis Muriel. Both plying their trade in Serie A, these two young South Americans possess the right combination of pace, power, and finesse to terrorize just about any defense. The only thing standing in their way is their lack of experience.


Falcao’s injury is an incredible blow to Colombia’s hopes of progressing far in the competition. The Monaco hit man is a menace with the ball on his foot or his head and will be sorely missed. If he were fit, he would be the go-to guy in terms of keeping Colombia in games. His absence means that the South Americans will have to play as a more cohesive unit rather than a one-man show.

That’s not to say they’re not capable, but they certainly will need an excellent game strategy. Their best option may be to overwhelm their opponents with their fast dribbling, incisive passing, and muscle. Almost every player in the Tricolor midfield and offense is capable of completely turning a game on its head. It’ll be up to the team as a whole to make sure those moments of individual brilliance aren’t all for naught.

Specifically watch out for Ibarbo, Muriel, and Cuadrado. All three players ply their trade in Serie A, and as a result, have a deep tactical understanding. Muriel and Ibarbo have both been solid enough for their respective clubs, but Brazil might just be the stage where they truly showcase their talents.

Cuadrado on the other hand has established himself as one of the best dribblers in Serie A. Drawing offers from Bayern Munchen and Manchester United, Fiorentina will hope they can hold onto the 26-year-old for as long as possible. Ain’t no one runs a wing like Juan. No one.


If Colombia attack all out and put their hearts and souls in their play, there’s no reason they can’t make it to the quarters… or even the semis. This could be the best Tricolor since the one that made the ill-fated trip to USA ’94. Mark Halftime’s words, Colombia are a team to watch.

Photo: Juan Parce/Wikipedia

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