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- The Series
A regular series as part of our World Cup coverage under the Talent Radar banner is aimed at the tons of aspiring football hipsters out there. We will track the progress of all young players at the World Cup, focusing on each and every game and compiling a detailed analysis. The eligibility criteria for this is simple, the player must have been 21 or below at the start of the season (2013-14).
Young Colombian superstar James Rodriguez had a good performance once again as Colombia ran out 2-1 winners against Ivory Coast in a hard fought contest, taking the Los Cafeteros into the round of 16. While Rodriguez wasn’t the most integral factor in Colombia’s victory (that mantle should rightly be given to Cuardado for his stellar performance on the night), he was an exceptional supporting cast member, managing to even grab a goal and an assist.
Slotting in at his favoured attacking midfield role, James Rodriguez was all bustle from the word go in a high intensity opening minutes. Throughout the game he was involved in several good goal scoring opportunities as Colombia were threatening on the counter utilizing his blistering pace. His exquisite technical abilities were once again showcased as he made a number of good dribbles and touches throughout the game. He looked incredibly sharp throughout the game, with the only accusation being he was at times wasteful on the ball, contrary to the game against Greece. A pass completion rate of 69% indicates this fact. The elusive goal he was searching for came from a setpeice as he evaded his marker to head in for the opening goal of the night. He played a massive part in the second too, as he set up a rapid counter attack from an Ivory Coast corner to set up Juan Quintero for Colombia’s second. As was with the game against Greece, his defensive work rate didn’t take a backseat as for an attacker, making a couple of good interceptions and well timed challenges. On the downside he did give away three fouls, but this fact just serves to reinforce his good pressing workrate.
It’s safe to say in the absence of Falcao that the Colombian national team is built around him. Many thought the burden caused by Falcao’s injury would unsettle the young Monaco starlet, but it seems to have done just the opposite inspiring in him a couple of match winning performances at the biggest stage of them all. His reputation as one of South America’s best talents only increases day by day.
Speaking on up and coming talents, another South American whose reputation is on a rise is 21-year old Juan Quintero. The South American under-20 tournament champion was only guaranteed a place on the bench because of James Rodriguez. Nevertheless his passing and good dribbling skills makes him a good player to bring on as a substitute. In the game against Ivory Coast he proved that point well as he on his World Cup debut, came on to score what would be the winning goal in this key contest. He was brought on, 54 minutes in a forced substitution as Victor Ibarbo picked up an injury. He scored his first ever goal for Colombia in what should be a moment he will remember for the rest of his career as he slotted home in the 70th from a lightning quick counter attack set up by who else but James Rodriguez.
All in all it was superb World Cup debut for the youngster. To say he will play an important role in the rest of Colombia’s tournament might be going to far, but he can certainly be an effective player to be subbed on. This youngster has a bright future ahead of him.