Colombia were one of the four teams to navigate the South American section successfully, finishing fourth in the final automatic spot. They didn’t secure progress until the final match day; a 1-1 draw in Peru and other results going in their favor sealed their spot. It was a nervier finish than it perhaps should have been, as Colombia finished the group with three draws and one defeat. All that will be forgotten now that they are guaranteed a place in Russia.
Nickname: Los Cafeteros (The Coffee Growers)
Coach: José Pékerman (since January 2012)
FIFA ranking: 13
Reason to Watch
Colombia are enjoying a “golden generation” of players, led by star midfielder James Rodriguez. They showed in 2014 that they can compete with the best and play exciting soccer at the same time, and the support from their fans in the stadium is a sight to behold. Watching a Colombia game is a great spectacle for the neutral.
World Cup History
Perhaps surprisingly for a big country with a fanatic soccer culture, Russia 2018 will only be Colombia’s sixth appearance in the tournament. Their first came in 1962, but they had to wait until 1990 before qualifying again.
Brazil 2014 was their first appearance after a sixteen year absence, and also their best performance as they made it to the quarter-finals before losing to the hosts. They topped their group with maximum points before seeing off Uruguay in the last-16, when Rodriguez scored one of the great World Cup goals, a dipping volley from 30 yards out.
When Colombia qualified for the World Cup in 1990, it was their first appearance in 28 years. Jersey provider, adidas, have chosen to commemorate this moment in the 2018 kit, which gives the retro jersey an upgraded feel.
In a base color of yellow, the Colombia flag is represented with red and blue bars that run from the arms towards the inside of the jersey. The three stripes run along the shoulders in black.
3 Players to Watch Out For
James Rodriguez, midfielder – adidas X 17+ Purespeed
James burst on to the scene in the 2014 World Cup. He finished the tournament as leading scorer with six goals, and also had two assists, earning him a spot in the World Cup all-star XI. His performances earned him a big money move to Real Madrid after just one season with Monaco.
He fared well at Madrid until Zidane took over as coach, when he spent more time on the bench. In the summer he moved on loan to Bayern Munich in a bid to play more regular football, and he’s settled in well so far. He’s a truly exciting player to watch and will hope to light up the World Cup again.
Radamel Falcao, striker – Nike Mercurial Vapor XI
Falcao is the captain on the side and also his country’s record scorer, with 28 goals. He’s a lethal finisher with his feet and his head, the type of player who only needs a sniff of a chance to get on the scoresheet.
He missed the last World Cup after suffering an ACL injury with Monaco, and after unsuccessful loan spells with Manchester United and Chelsea, many were wondering if he’d play at the top level again. Fortunately he is back to his best, scoring for fun this year in Ligue 1.
Juan Cuadrado, winger – adidas X 17.1
Cuadrado is a lightning-quick winger who plays club soccer for Juventus in Italy. He is a very direct player, almost like an old-fashioned winger. Because of his great pace, he can also be utilized as a wing-back or even a full-back if need be.
He’s a great player to have in the team, as he offers a completely different threat to the playmaking style of James and other Colombian midfielders. Expect to see him getting to the byline and swinging in plenty of crosses for Falcao.
Facts to Impress Your Friends
- Colombia’s 4-4 draw with the Soviet Union in 1962 is tied for the record of highest scoring draw at a World Cup.
- In that 4-4 draw, Colombia were 3-0 down at one stage; only one other time has a team come back to draw from three goals behind.
- Also in that game, Marcos Coll scored direct from a corner – the only player to have achieved this in a World Cup.
- Faryd Mondragon holds the record for the oldest player to appear in a World Cup game; he was 43 years and three days old when he played against Japan in 2014.
Prospect for success:
Colombia look like they have the ability to perform well again on the world stage, and their experience from Brazil 2014 can only be put to good use. With Falcao back to fitness, they have another attacking threat for opposition teams to contend with.
A quarter-final is probably the upper limit of what Colombia can expect to achieve, but as they showed in Brazil they will give anyone a tough game. In fact, they might be many people’s pick as a dark horse.