WorldCupAcca Confirmed Squad:
Keeper: D. Ospina, C. Vargas, JF. Cuadrado
Defence: C. Zapata, D. Sanchez, S. Arias, O. Murillo, F. Fabra, J. Mojica, Y. Mina
Midfield: W. Barrios. C. Sanchez, J. Lerma, J. Izquierdo, J. Rodríguez, A. Aguilar, M. Uribe, JF. Quintero, J.Cuadrado
Forward: R. Falcao, M. Borja, C. Bacca, L. Muriel
Colombia had their best ever performance last time out in Brazil as they reached the quarter finals, easing through their group with 3 wins from 3 against Greece, Ivory Coast and Japan they scored 9 goals.
A James Rodriguez brace against Uruguay saw them through to the next round were they faced the hosts, losing 2-1 thanks to a stunning David Luiz free kick. James finished as the top scorer in the competition with 6 goals.
Prior to this, Colombia had only been in the tournament 4 times and only made it out of their group on 1 occasion, Italia 90 when they were eliminated by Cameroon in the round of 16, after 2 goals from Roger Milla in extra time.
Qualification was a tight affair in South America this year for everyone bar Brazil and Uruguay.
By the time it was completed there was just 2 points separating Argentina in 3rd and Chile in 6th.
Colombia took the last automatic qualifying place, finishing 1 point ahead of Peru and Chile, as Peru and Colombia played out a 1-1 draw in Lima.
James also finished as Colombia’s top scorer in qualifying, again with 6 goals and is likely to continue that run again this summer in Russia.
Recent friendly results have been underwhelming for the Colombians, they have only played 5 in the build up to the tournament itself, 2 of those were in November of last year – when they lost 2-1 to South Korea and beat China 4-0.
The China result was followed up with a very impressive win away to France, coming from 2 goals down after 25 minutes to win 2-3 but that momentum was lost with successive 0-0 draws against Australia and Egypt.
WorldCupAcca The Squad:
David Ospina is set to continue as Colombia’s number one with very little competition in that area, there is a very youthful feel to the defence now with Davison Sanchez (21) and Yerry Mina (23) at the heart of the defence. Sanchez has had an excellent debut season for Spurs and Mina recently signed with Barcelona from Palmeiras, though it is still early in his career there.
PSV’s Santiago Arias (26) in the right back is equally adept attacking as he is defending and will overlap Juan Cuadrado on that side all day, Arias was also named the Eredivisie Player of the Year, having assisted 6 goals and scoring 3 times, as well as being in the team of the season.
Frank Fabra would have been the first choice left back, however, unfortunately for him and his team he was ruled out of the tournament after sustaining an anterior cruciate ligament tear in his left knee during training a few days ago meaning that either Johan Mojica or Farid Diaz will play there instead.
Midfield is a weaker area for Colombia, they often find themselves being outplayed and over run in that area, especially against the bigger sides – as we saw in qualifying where they lost both of their games against Argentina and couldn’t manage any wins against Brazil, Uruguay or Chile.
Carlos Sanchez and Mateus Uribe will likely be the holding midfield pair, both of which are quite average players, the four in front will be tasked with leading the team creatively and with goals.
Juan Cuadrado is a good player and is a threat on the wings with his pace and ability to pick a pass as well as beat a man, James Rodriguez is obviously the star man and will hope for another good tournament this year. The left wing is a more interesting position to fill and we may see Carlos Bacca getting shoehorned into the team by playing out wide.
Radamel Falcao captains the side and having missed the tournament in 2014 he will be desperate to make an impact on the tournament.
Previously one of the most feared strikers in the world when he was at Porto and Atletico Madrid, he wasn’t the same player when he came back from his injury and had 2 successful loan spells in England, though now back at Monaco he has shown glimpses of his former self.
WorldCupAcca The Group:
This is the tightest group in the competition by far and although Colombia will be favourites to win it they will need to perform from the off and perform well.
Poland are the obvious threats, they comfortably finished top of the relatively comfortable UEFA Group E, winning eight out of 10 fixtures against Denmark, Montenegro, Romania, Armenia and Kazakhstan, even though their 4-0 defeat in Copenhagen was an obvious disappointment.
They scored 28 goals, 16 of them coming from Robert Lewandowski. The captain netted hat tricks in key home wins against Romania and Denmark, and their qualification was never really in doubt.
The Poles are much more than just one striker, though. Manager Adam Nawalka is building on a successful Euro 2016, where the Poles reached the quarterfinals and exited only on penalties.
They have a solid backbone of experienced leaders, including centre-back Kamil Glik, defender Lukasz Piszczek and midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak, who are complemented by rising young stars like Piotr Zielinski and Karol Linetty.
Senegal are also serious contenders to get out of this group, they qualified unbeaten from CAF’s Group D after taking 14 points from their six matches, winning four and scoring 10 goals.
They’ve a wealth of talented forward options, powerful midfielders and commanding central defensive options in Kalidou Koulibaly and Kara Mbodji.
The key area of strength, is in midfield, where Idrissa Gueye performs a key duty, snuffing out opposition attacks and protecting his defence.
He has not enjoyed his best season at Everton, but his defensive numbers have rivalled those of N’Golo Kante in recent years, and he’s the centrepiece of a strong unit that should contain the likes of Kouyate, Alfred N’Diaye and Cheikh N’Doye.
Add to this the pace and quality of the likes of Sadio Mane, Moussa Sow, Ismaila Sarr, Diafra Sakho, M’Baye Niang and Keita Balde among others in attack and the The Lions of Teranga can cause problems for a lot of teams.
Japan are the weakest team in the group, despite a turbulent campaign, Japan won their group in Asian qualifying to secure their place at the finals.
Finishing ahead of Saudi Arabia by a solitary point to advance to a sixth consecutive World Cup. A 2-0 win over Australia in their penultimate game saw them book their place and secure first position, claiming one of two automatic berths.
They possess an experienced group of players, several of whom will be appearing at their third World Cup.
Eiji Kawashima, Keisuke Honda, Yuto Nagatomo, Shinji Okazaki and captain Makoto Hasebe all played in 2010 and 2014 and it will be up to them to give the team the much-needed lift behind the scenes after a difficult lead-in to the finals, with the sacking of Vahid Halilhodzic which caused turbulence within the squad and left with just two months to repair the damage under new coach Akira Nishino.
They’re always comfortable in possession and have some quality players in Keisuke Honda and Shinji Kagawa but they will likely be finishing bottom of what should be a fiercely competitive group.
WorldCupAcca Betting Tips:
World Cup Group H Fixtures / Results
|Mordovia Arena, Saransk – June 19, 2018 3:00 pm|
|Spartak Stadium, Spartak Stadium – June 19, 2018 6:00 pm|
|Central Stadium, Yekaterinburg – June 24, 2018 8:00 pm|
|Kazan Arena, Kazan – June 24, 2018 9:00 pm|
|Volgograd Stadium, Volgograd – June 28, 2018 5:00 pm|
|Cosmos Arena, Samara – June 28, 2018 6:00 pm|
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