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As part of our World Cup coverage, we have interviewed journalists, correspondents, experts & writers representing each of the 32 countries to give you, the readers, a better understanding of the 32 nations participating in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Here are the list of interviewees.
For this interview, focusing on Colombia, we have interviewed Stany Sirutis who is the founder & editor of Colombia football website, RetoricaFutbol.com. You can find Stany on Twitter @RetoricaFutbol.
This Colombian side has been impressive over the last few months and seem to be the strongest of all the dark-horses this tournament. Are expectations a bit too high of Colombia and will this prove to be a detrimental factor?
Expectations are, indeed, very high, but the injuries and loss of form that have affected several players have put a limit to the building excitement. While a big problem in 1994, expectations won’t likely affect the team too much this time around, because there’s a level of professionalism in the squad and the organization around them, that were not there in 1994.
Radamel Falcao certainly holds an important place in the Colombian side. But his injury concerns are an issue. Even if he does get fit in time, he won’t be 100%. Is there any player who can play the same role that Falcao does, both in a tactical sense and symbolically?
There’s no straight forward replacement for Falcao’s movement in the box and his goal-scoring instincts. Colombia will have to adapt, with the more static Jackson Martinez a likely replacement, and Adrian Ramos having an outside chance of making the final list of 23. Carlos Bacca and Teófilo Gutiérrez offer something different than Falcao. Colombia’s #10, James Rodríguez, has been as important symbolically as Radamel Falcao, and all eyes will be on him to guide the team forward.
Update: Radamel Falcao officially misses out on the final 23 man Colombia squad with injury.
The strength and depth of Colombia’s squad has been documented well, but how important is it to have an experienced and expert campaigner like Pékerman at the helm? What can we expect from the head-coach, in terms of his tactical approach?
In the build-up to the start of the tournament, Pékerman will look to consolidate the side’s tactical versatility that has already been seen during qualifiers. The team are able to switch between 4-4-2, 4-3-1-2 and 4-2-3-1, according to circumstances, and are most comfortable playing attacking, possession football. Pékerman’s wisdom and man-management skills will prove increasingly important should the side advance past the group stage.
Juan Cuadrado has had an incredible season with Fiorentina, with his versatility in particular being an attractive asset. Where does Cuadrado fit into the Colombian side and what sort of impact can we expect from him?
Cuadrado has already played on both flanks of the Colombian attack and is a key player in breaking down rival defences. His skill at dribbling past opponents and the threat of his quality finishing make him a unique talent in the squad. Expect Cuadrado to dazzle in Brazil.
It’s the case for most South American countries but how much of a factor will the weather conditions play in this tournament? Can Colombia significantly use it to their advantage?
Colombia, who play home qualifiers in the sweltering humidity of Barranquilla, should have no problem with weather conditions during the group stage. Come a second round match in the more humid Rio de Janeiro or Recife, the weather may tip things in Colombia’s favour, particularly in the 2nd half of the match.
We at Outside of the Boot track the progress of youngsters under our Talent Radar feature. Eder Alvarez Balanta & Juan Quintero are particular attractive to our feature. Do they have a role to play this World Cup? Will they be making a considerable impact?
As things stand, it’s not yet clear whether either of them will make the trip to Brazil, as both player’s have, until now, barely made a part of the set-up. With captain Mario Yepes’ recent form a cause for concern, Balanta would make a logical addition to the squad, but would be a surprise choice as a starter. Quintero’s as a backup offensive midfielder would provide an option to break down stubborn defences. Whatever impact they may have, depends largely on how the tournament unfolds, and whether either manages to break into the starting eleven.
Taking Colombia’s quality, the weather conditions, the opponents all into consideration, they should be expected to progress with some ease past the group stage. How far do you see them going realistically? What are supporters expecting from the squad?
Colombian fans expect the team to advance past the group stage, and most people here believe that they will do so at the top of the group. Realistically, with or without Radamel Falcao, the team should find itself facing a very tough opponent in the second round, with England, Italy and Uruguay likely rivals, and there’s simply no way of knowing if they’ll advance further.