Colombia on course for Class of ’98 reunion with England
With Radamel Falcao, Fredy Guarin and James Rodriguez in their ranks Colombia could be one of the dark horses for glory at the World Cup in Brazil but to progress to the latter stages they may have to get past Roy Hodgson’s England team.
The South American side are 22/1 to lift the trophy for the first time, but while they remain an outside bet for the tournament, Jose Pekerman’s team look well placed to get out of the groups.
Los Cafeteros certainly benefit from a favourable draw which will see them pitted against Greece, one of the lowest scoring European teams to qualify, alongside the erratic Japan and Ivory Coast national teams, both of which tend to favour all-out-attack over defensive solidarity.
Colombia should have no such problems there though with the vastly experienced defender Mario Yepes joined by Milan’s Cristian Zapata in central defence as well as highly-rated Napoli full-back Pablo Armero.
Throw in a talented midfield and attack that boasts Porto hot-property Jackson Martinez alongside Falcao and the 8/11 offered by Ladbrokes for the Tricolor to top Group C looks a good bet.
Once in the knockout stages though, Colombia could face a stern test of their World Cup credentials in the form of England.
Roy Hodgson’s side face a difficult set of fixtures against Costa Rica, Uruguay and Italy but could sneak through with the Azzurri at the expense of the inexperienced Central American side and the ageing South American team, which struggled to reach the finals.
On each of the last four occasions that England have qualified out of the groups they have done so via the dreaded runners-up spot and such a finish in Brazil could see them pitted against Colombia.
It would be a reunion of their 1998 clash in France where goals from David Beckham and Darren Anderton saw off a team led by big-haired legend Carlos Valderama.
Colombia have never beaten England in their history, losing three and drawing two of their previous five meetings and should they come up against the Three Lions again, then a second round exit could be on the cards at 11/8.
But with Pekerman’s side playing on South American soil and England without dangerman Theo Walcott, 2014 could be the year that hoodoo ends.
Los Cafeteros can alternatively be backed to go out at the quarter-final and semi-final stages at 3/1 and 11/1 respectively for those with faith in Falcao and co.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date
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