World Cup 2014 Team-by-Team Guide: Colombia can do it
Past tournaments: 1962, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2014
Previous Best: Second Round – Italy 1990
How they got here: Colombia finished second to Argentina in qualifying, after collecting an impressive haul of 30 points from their 16 qualifiers under former La Albiceleste boss Jose Pekerman. Los Cafeteros also cemented their place as the continent’s second best team with impressive results against Uruguay and Chile, winning 4-0 and 3-1 at home respectively.
Star man: Fredy Guarin (Inter Milan)
With Radamel Falcao still a doubt for the World Cup and, at the very least unlikely to be at his sharpest, the onus will be on another one of the more senior Colombia stars to step up and lead the team – Fredy Guarin.
A near ever-present during qualification, Guarin does a lot of the hard work in midfield for Los Cafeteros but is unique in that he combines tough tackling with moments of real finesse – particularly in front of goal.
Currently on the books at Inter Milan, Guarin has been the subject of some interest from Juventus as well as Chelsea and an impressive World Cup could see the 27-year-old switch from Serie A to the Premier League.
For a glimpse of what to expect, check out this memorable strike for Porto against Maritimo.
Under the radar: James Rodriguez (AS Monaco)
He may have been the subject of a £37.5m move to big-spending Monaco last summer, but James Rodriguez remains something of an unknown quantity in world football and at just 22-years-old has yet to reach his peak as a player.
The World Cup could be his chance to well and truly arrive on the big stage, with the attacking midfielder a key cog in the Colombia machine. Having seamlessly adapted to international football at a young age, he will be crucial to the South American’s chances in Brazil, having scored key goals against Chile, Peru and Ecuador during qualifying.
After a solid, if slightly underwhelming, season in France, the midfielder will be desperate to show what he can do and relatively straightforward group games against Greece, Ivory Coast and Japan – three teams with just a single appearance in the knockout stages between them – are ideal.
Team nutcase: Teofilo Gutierrez (River Plate)
Something of a cult figure in his homeland, but Gutierrez’s career has been dogged by attitude problems, some of which have hindered the development of a player regarded as one of the finest of his generation.
A stint in Europe with Trabzonspor was cut short after the player decided to head to Racing Club, without the permission of his Turkish employers, claiming health problems. Despite doctors being unable to find any issues, the player was granted the move he desired.
He went on to score 22 goals in 41 games for the club, before a controversial incident during a 4-1 loss to Independiente brought the curtain down on his spell and singled him out as a nutcase.
Sent off for verbally abusing the referee during the defeat, Teo was confronted by his teammates after the game, many of whom were angry at the forward for the nature of his dismissal.
The forward’s response was swift – with Gutierrez brandishing a paintball gun and threatening to dish out the kind of punishment that left PJ blind on Byker Grove.
He never played for the club again.
How far can they go?
A relatively straightforward group draw means Colombia have an excellent chance of making the Second Round, where they could face the runners-up of England’s group and a great chance to make the quarter-finals.
That will be seen as the minimum for a team with hopes of winning the competition – with or without Falcao – and given the squad at their disposal and the fact that they will be more acclimatised to the region that their European rivals then a semi-final spot is within their grasp.
Best bet: To top Group C @ 4/5
Watch Colombia dispatch England’s Group D rivals Uruguay 4-0 in qualifying
How far do you think Colombia can go at the World Cup? Tweet @JackBeresford86 with your views now!
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
Fancy a flutter? Sign up today to claim up to £50 in free bets.