When Greece won Euro 2004 the feeling of elation that accompanied the surprise soon gave way to a sense of resentment, with many unhappy at the idea that a well-drilled but ordinary team would forever be a part of football history.
But if World Cup underdogs Colombia make it all the way to the final on July 13th there won’t be the same negative sentiment because the truth is that Los Cafeteros have been the best team at the finals so far.
Ladbrokes has Jose Pekerman’s side at 12/1 to win the World Cup ahead of their quarter-final with Brazil and while the hosts are favourites for victory, the form book suggests Colombia could go one better than Chile and end the Selecao’s dream of lifting the trophy on home soil.
Los Cafeteros head into the game with a perfect record of four wins from four at this World Cup, racking up a sensational 11 goals along the way.
Brazil, by contrast, have managed just two wins from four games in 90 minutes, scoring eight goals as part of a run that has seen them toil in front of goal against the likes of Mexico and Chile.
A quarter-final meeting against another team from the Americas could prove one too far with Colombia likely to provide similar defensive resistance if their 2-0 victory over Uruguay is anything to go by.
Mario Yepes did an effective job of keeping Edinson Cavani and Diego Forlan quiet – two strikers far superior to any of Brazil’s forward options – while any shots on goal were dealt with effectively by David Ospina – a goalkeeper who would be a worth shout for the Golden Glove award.
Yet it’s at the other end of the pitch where Colombia are really excelling, despite being without Radamel Falcao, an absence that may actually be having a positive effect on the team, allowing James Rodriguez to take a starring role.
With five goals in four matches, at least one in every game so far and the goal of the tournament to date against Uruguay, James is growing in stature with every game, as his goals against Japan and then the South Americans showed.
Neymar, meanwhile, has found himself under pressure, kicked and harried off the ball to such an extent that there are now concerns over his fitness for the Colombia clash.
With the weight of an entire nation on his shoulders, the Barcelona man may have been cool from the penalty spot but was largely anonymous in the second half of the Chile game and on into extra time.
And he’s not the only one feeling the pressure with captain Thiago Silva rumoured to have demanded he to be last to take a penalty for Brazil, amid worries he would miss.
Colombia, meanwhile, are already having their best ever World Cup and could play with the kind of freedom that has seen them take on all comers so far.
Their recent record against a Brazil team no doubt tired from their Chile exploits is worth considering too with Los Cafeteros unbeaten in four against the Selecao.
For Pekerman this World Cup is also a chance to right the wrongs of 2006, when his Argentina team – the best team at that tournament – went out to Germany on penalties, despite scoring the best team goal of any finals.
With a potential semi-final with a Dutch team boasting a dodgy defence in the mix, victory over Brazil could set Colombia on course to make history – let’s just hope Brazil can forgive them.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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