Colombia just made it into the tournament, with James Rodriguez providing the spark.
Colombia World Cup Fixtures, Squad, Group, Guide
Since making their World Cup quarter-finals debut in 2014, Colombia have been consistently disappointing, and their qualification campaign for Russia was a laboured, uninspired affair with few high points from a group of players who would seem to be capable of better.
Key Moments in Qualifying
Abandoning midfield elaboration for a more direct game plan by playing straight up to the front three, a 1-1 draw in Chile sees the hosts drop points for the first time.
After taking just four points from their first four games, Colombia let slip a two-goal lead before finding a late winner to triumph 3-2 away to Bolivia – a notoriously difficult fixture in which Uruguay were the only other team to have left with all three points.
With seven changes to the side, Colombia suffer a huge blow to their confidence with a 3-0 thrashing in Argentina.
Two late Paraguay goals in a 2-1 defeat almost derail Colombia’s qualification hopes, but they salvage things with a 1-1 draw in Peru five days later.
Colombia World Cup Group
Colombia World Cup Friendlies
Colombia World Cup Fixtures
Jose Pekerman, age 68 (03.09.49)
Appointed at the start of 2012, he made his name as a highly successful coach of the national under-20s in his native Argentina at the turn of the century, and then took the senior side to the 2006 World Cup.
The big star of 2014, James Rodriguez has had an uneasy time at club level since his golden tournament, but he clearly relishes being important to the national team and was the team’s top scorer in qualifying.
Defensive midfielder Carlos Sanchez is a man-marking specialist whose positional sense and timing in the tackle balance out the side.
Gifted but wayward attacking midfielder Edwin Cardona was the most important member of the post-2014 intake, alongside Yerry Mina, the giant centre-half who came into the team for the second half of the campaign and adds pace on the ground to an aerial dominance.
Colombia World Cup Squad
Preliminary World Cup Squad – Final 23-man squad is yet to be announced
Goalkeepers: David Ospina (Arsenal), Camilo Vargas (Deportivo Cali), Ivan Arboleda (Banfield), Jose Fernando Cuadrado (Once Caldas).
Defenders: Cristian Zapata (Milan), Davinson Sanchez (Tottenham), Santiago Arias (PSV Eindhoven), Oscar Murillo (Pachuca), Frank Fabra (Boca Juniors), Johan Mojica (Girona), Yerry Mina (Barcelona), William Tesillo (Santa Fe), Bernardo Espinosa (Girona), Stefan Medina (Monterrey), Farid Díaz (Olimpia).
Midfielders: Wílmar Barrios (Boca Juniors), Carlos Sánchez (Espanyol), Jefferson Lerma (Levante), Jose Izquierdo (Brighton), James Rodriguez (Bayern Munich), Giovanni Moreno (Shanghai Shenhua), Abel Aguilar (Deportivo Cali), Mateus Uribe (America), Yimmi Chara (Junior), Juan Fernando Quintero (River Plate), Edwin Cardona (Boca Juniors), Juan Cuadrado (Juventus), Gustavo Cuellar (Flamengo), Sebastian Perez (Boca Juniors).
Colombia World Cup Injuries
We will update you with all the injuries here.
The Unanswered Questions
Can they trust David Ospina?
With the exception of a meaningless Copa Centenario group game, it is more than six years since anyone but Ospina has started a competitive match in goal for Colombia. But inactivity at Arsenal may have taken its toll and he ended the campaign in calamitous fashion. Two candidates to replace him were blooded in November, so will he still get the nod?
How will Radamel Falcao be used?
Pekerman has rarely trusted Falcao to play up front on his own, with Duvan Zapata playing alongside him in the final qualifier. If they are to play two up front, a creative midfielder will be sacrificed.
Will past experience help them?
Several of the squad played their way through to the 2014 World Cup quarter-finals, the 2015 Copa America quarter-finals and the 2016 Copa Centenario semi-finals. Experience might just help them hang in there and grind out results.
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