Quarter-finals: France – Colombia – Belgium – Costa Rica
World Cup progress: Quarter-finals
Team rating: 8
Top scorer: James Rodriguez (6)
As they danced their way to the quarter-finals of the competition, Colombia were the epitome of a team enjoying their football, considers Rossella Marrai.
As the Colombian hearts broke in Fortaleza, so too did those of a number of neutrals. Jose Pekerman’s side were one of the dark horses in the World Cup, and one that won over the admiration of many of the tournament’s spectators. Their fluid play, precision passing and pure elation of enjoyment upon stepping on to the field was a pleasure on the eye.
The South Americans’ impressive passage into the knockout stages caught the attention of football admirers, while their Last 16 triumph over Uruguay was summed up by James Rodriguez’s world-class strike. Against Brazil, many were backing them for an upset, but it wasn’t to be as they fell to a 2-1 defeat.
Overall, it was a complete team effort that few others in Brazil can say they have matched. From Mario Yepes’ experience and leadership, to David Ospina’s impenetrable gloves in between the sticks and the magic of James Rodriguez, it almost seemed cruel that they walked away without silverware.
The Coach – Jose Pekerman
Jose Pekerman’s arrival on the Colombian bench looked to be a turning point for Los Cafeteros and it proved exactly the case when his side captured the world’s attention in Brazil. With a passing game equivalent to that of his 2006 Argentina squad, passion oozing with every touch of the ball and a loveable dancing celebration, Pekerman got the best out of a side that was without leading man Radamel Falcao.
Player of the Tournament – James Rodriguez
The Monaco man saw his stakes take a huge rise for the better as he stole the show for the Colombians with his fancy footwork, sneak runs and, of course, goals. Scoring six in six games, Rodriguez’s impressive form left his nation forgetting about the absence of Falcao. His hunger saw him help carry them to the final eight of the tournament, while his tears upon exciting the competition broke hearts.
As Colombia marched into the Last 16 with a 3-1 win over Japan, David Ospina made way for the 43-year-old Faryd Mondragon five minutes from time. It was a heart-warming moment of unadulterated celebration as the veteran raised his hands up to the sky to become the eldest player in the World Cup.
|19-Jun-14||Colombia||2-1||Cote d'Ivoire||Group C|
|28-Jun-14||Colombia||2-0||Uruguay||Round of 16|
For a complete review of the 2014 World Cup, check out the next issue of Soccer Italia, written by the team at Football Italia and available on worldwide subscription.