WORLD CUP FORECAST: Group C – Can Colombia return to world football with a bang?

Colombia are back in the FIFA World Cup after last competing in world football’s colorful tournament back in 1998.
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Colombia are back in the FIFA World Cup after last competing in world football’s colorful tournament back in 1998.

The 1990s were somewhat of a renaissance for Colombian football with three-straight World Cup qualifications but their input on the world stage has been limited dramatically since.

Los Cafeteros achieved regional glory by winning the 2001 Copa America in their homeland before grabbing a fourth-place finish in Peru in 2004 but the past decade has been barren.

Fast forward to 2014 and there is a lot to like about Jose Pekerman’s squad that finished second behind Argentina in South American qualifying, conceding just 13 goals in their 16 fixtures.

That gives them a solid foundation to build from and with a plethora of attack-minded midfielders and forwards, anything is possible for the Tricolor.

Manager: Jose Pekerman

Fixtures: Greece - June 14 (Belo Horizonte), Cote d’Ivoire - June 19 (Brasilia), Japan - June 24 (Cuiaba)

Past outings against group opponents: Colombia’s first group stage fixture will be the second encounter with Greece following a 2-0 friendly win in 1994.

Colombia and the Ivory Coast have never met at senior international level.

Los Cafeteros have previously met Japan on two occasions which have included a 1-0 win at the 2003 Confederations Cup and a 0-0 friendly draw in 2007.

Key players: Radamel Falcao (Monaco), Jackson Martinez (FC Porto), James Rodriguez (Monaco), Mario Yepes (Atalanta)

World Cup utopia: Getting into the Round of 16 where they could meet Uruguay would be a success. Anything else a bonus.

Doomsday scenario: Missing out on the knockout phase.

Qualified by virtue of: Finishing second in South American qualifying.

Best result at a World Cup: Round of 16 (1990)

tribal’s forecast:

The name on everybody’s lips, especially Colombian fans, will no doubt be ‘Radamel Falcao’.

Colombian hearts were in mouths when the prolific talisman went down with a knee injury in January, forcing him into the operating suite for anterior cruciate ligament surgery.

It was hard to imagine seeing the Monaco ace in the red, blue and gold shirt of his nation in Brazil but it seems as though he has made a miraculous recovery just in time to lead the attacking line in Group C.

Falcao will have a massive influence on Pekerman’s line-up but do not discount the quality that surrounds him.

Martinez has scored 29 goals in Portugal, Teofilo Gutierrez is in fine touch with River Plate, Carlos Bacca has found the back of the net 21 times in helping Sevilla lift the Europa League and Rodriguez has been a force in France with Monaco.

Add the extensive experience of skipper Yepes, the class of AC Milan’s Cristian Zapata and the likes of Juan Camilo Zuniga (Napoli) and Fredy Guarin (Inter Milan) and there is plenty to get excited about if you are a Colombia fan.

A potential Round of 16 encounter with continental rivals Uruguay awaits in what could be a tournament which announces that Colombian football is well and truly alive.

Prediction: Round of 16.

 
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