Meet the Colombian forwards tasked to cope without Falcao
The final nail in Radamel Falcao’s World Cup dream may have plunged deep into the Colombian’s coffin but the absence of the Monaco striker certainly shouldn’t put anyone off following them as their “second team” in Brazil.
Falcao’s failure to recover from the anterior cruciate ligament injury he suffered in January has seen him miss out on Jose Pekerman’s final 23-man squad for this summer’s tournament, where they are now 28/1 to lift the trophy.
Having blazed a Messi-and-Ronaldo-like goal-scoring trail during his time at Atletico Madrid before switching to France, the 28-year-old was expected to fire his country into the knockout stages in their first World Cup appearance since 1998.
Naturally, replacing a man with 199 goals in just 302 career appearances is quite a task for a manager and Pekerman seemed to tip his hat to the size of the loss in Colombia’s latest World Cup warm up with Senegal.
Switching from the usual 4-4-2 system he used with Falcao, Pekerman brought in two strikers to fill the void, using a 4-3-3 system during the 2-2 draw.
Teofilo Gutierrez, Carlos Bacca and Victor Ibarbo took up the mantle in the Tricolor’s forward line, with the former pair grabbing the goals on the night.
Gutierrez was Falcao’s usual strike partner in the “two up top” system and finished the qualification process with six goals to Falcao’s nine. He will almost certainly now lead Colombia’s attack and is 10/3 to be the side’s top scorer in Brazil.
Bacca, Sevilla’s Europa League winner, is a 5/1 shot in the same market but will likely see plenty of game-time considering his former partnership with Gutierrez at club level and 18-goal season in Spain.
Should Pekerman persist with the three-pronged attack, then Jackson Martinez (10/3), Borussia Dortmund-bound Adrian Ramos (12/1) and Ibarbo (16s) will be fighting it out for the final spot.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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