South American hopefuls Colombia will arrive in Russia aiming to repeat their 2014 heroics where they impressed before a narrow quarter final exit to hosts Brazil.
Nicknamed ‘Los Cafeteros’ as a result of their association with coffee, Colombia played some sparkling football in 2014 to see off Greece, Ivory Coast, Japan and Uruguay.
The star of the show was playmaker James Rodriguez who won the golden boot with six goals including that stunner against Uruguay which won the Fifa Puskas award. James’ performances earned him a mega money move to European kingpins Real Madrid later that summer.
Now at Bayern Munich, the 26 year old will be crucial to his nation’s prospects.
Ranked sixteenth in the world, Colombia finished fourth in the ultra competitive South American Qualifiers, and their final 23 man squad boasts stellar names other than James Rodriguez.
Experienced manager Jose Peckerman has a strong emphasis on possession football and a tight defence, but they also have plenty of pace on the counter attack through the likes of Juan Cuadrado, Juan Quintero, Luis Muriel and Brighton’s Jose Izquierdo.
All-time top goalscorer Radamel Falcao has rediscovered his devastating scoring nature after a difficult spell in the Premier League. The 32 year old sharpshooter missed the 2014 tournament with that long term ACL injury and he will look to make amends in Russia.
El Tigre has registered 54 goals for Monaco over the past two season and has rekindled his form just in time
to captain his country and add to his current tally of 29 goals for Los Cafeteros.
Defensively, Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina, Tottenham centre half Davison Sanchez, Barcelona’s new recruit Yerry
Mina and PSV Eindhoven right back Santiago Arias are the names that all football fans will recognize.
The home country of famous singer Shakira are 40/1 outsiders and while they most likely will not go all the way to claim football’s greatest prize, expect them to ruffle some feathers.
There is a potential last sixteen meeting with England to look forward to.
Group Fixtures –
Tuesday, June 19 at 1pm
Sunday, June 24 at 7pm
Thursday, June 28 at 3pm
A tricky group, but they should have enough to come out on top.