After their run to the quarter-finals four years ago in Brazil, Colombia will start their 2018 World Cup campaign in Group H, where Poland are expected to provide their sternest competition for top spot in the group. Senegal and Japan are also in the group.
Radamel Falcao (Monaco)
Colombia failed to win any of their final four qualifying games in the South American section, but their performances earlier on gave them enough of a buffer to eventually finish in the fourth and final automatic qualification spot.
James Rodriguez, the Golden Boot winner at the last World Cup, scored Colombia’s goal in a 1-1 draw with Peru in the final round of fixtures which ultimately sealed their progress. Rodriguez’s goal was his sixth of the qualification campaign, making him Colombia’s top goalscorer in the South American section.
Colombia’s run to the quarter-finals in Brazil four years ago marked their best-ever World Cup appearance in five finals appearances to date.
They had previously not qualified for the World Cup since reaching all three tournaments in the 1990s – losing in the second round at Italia 1990 and exiting after the group stages in both 1994 and 1998.
Last time out, however, James Rodriguez fired six goals on his way to the Golden Boot as Colombia reached the last eight. A dominant performance in the group stage saw them twice beat their best-ever score at the World Cup – defeating Greece 3-0 and Japan 4-1 either side of a 2-1 win against Ivory Coast. Colombia then beat Uruguay 2-0 in the last-16, but lost 2-1 to hosts Brazil in the quarter-finals. Rodriguez scored in all five games, meaning he has never failed to score in a World Cup finals match in which he has appeared.
Juan Cuadrado returned to action in plenty of time to refind his match fitness ahead of the World Cup, and the Juventus man is in the Colombian squad. Edwin Cardona paid the price for the chunk warm-up matches he picked after picking up a five-game ban for making racist gestures in the defeat to South Korea in Suwon, however. Though in the preliminary squad, he was one of three experienced players – alongside fellow midfielder Giovanni Moreno and striker Teofilo Gutierrez – to miss out on the final selection. Frank Fabra was initially selected at left-back, but dropped out injured and was replaced by Farid Diaz.
Radamel Falcao has scored 29 goals in 72 international appearances, and the Colombian captain will be desperate to play at the World Cup after injury robbed him of his place in 2014. In his absence in that tournament, James Rodriguez won the golden boot with six goals – the same amount as he managed in World Cup qualifying this time out.
L W W D D
After limping over the line in World Cup qualifying, finishing with three draws and a defeat, Colombia have returned to winning ways of late. A 2-1 defeat to South Korea followed their qualification, but since then they have beaten China 4-0 and more significantly France 3-2. A 0-0 with Australia in London followed, and they were held to the same scoreline by Egypt last time out.
|1||David Ospina (Arsenal)||29||86 caps||0 goals|
|12||Camilo Vargas (Deportivo Cali)||29||5 caps||0 goals|
|22||Jose Fernando Cuadrado (Once Caldas)||33||1 cap||0 goals|
|2||Cristian Zapata (Milan)||31||55 caps||2 goals|
|3||Oscar Murillo (Pachuca)||30||13 caps||0 goals|
|4||Santiago Arias (PSV)||26||41 caps||0 goals|
|13||Yerry Mina (Barcelona)||23||12 caps||3 goals|
|17||Johan Mojica (Girona)||26||4 caps||1 goal|
|18||Farid Diaz (Olimpia)||34||13 caps||0 goals|
|23||Davinson Sanchez (Tottenham Hotspur)||21||9 caps||0 goals|
|5||Wilmar Barrios (Boca Juniors)||24||10 caps||0 goals|
|6||Carlos Sanchez (Fiorentina)||32||85 caps||0 goals|
|8||Abel Aguilar (Deportivo Cali)||33||70 caps||7 goals|
|10||James Rodriguez (Bayern Munich)||26||63 caps||21 goals|
|11||Juan Cuadrado (Juventus)||30||70 caps||7 goals|
|15||Mateus Uribe (America)||27||8 caps||0 goals|
|16||Jefferson Lerma (Levante)||23||5 caps||0 goals|
|20||Juan Fernado Quintero (River Plate)||25||15 caps||2 goals|
|7||Carlos Bacca (Villarreal)||31||45 caps||14 goals|
|9||Radamel Falcao (Monaco)||32||73 caps||29 goals|
|14||Luis Muriel (Sevilla)||27||18 caps||2 goals|
|19||Miguel Borja (Palmeiras)||25||7 caps||2 goals|
|21||Jose Izquierdo (Brighton & Hove Albion)||25||5 caps||1 goal|
Quarter-finalists in Brazil four years ago, Colombia will bid to repeat that feat this time out and they have a definite chance of doing so.
Certainly they will expect to progress from Group H at 1/3 with Bet365, whether or not they do it in first place. They should at least have the beating of Japan and Senegal, and have a good international record against Poland – albeit having not faced each other for more than a decade – too.
Colombia are 5/4 to win Group H and reach the second round, where England or Belgium are expected to be waiting. That represents a tricky tie, whichever way they qualify from Group H, and however England and Belgium finish.
The Colombians are 15/8 to reach the quarter-finals for the second tournament running, but both Belgium and England have proved they have the defence to keep the likes of Rodriguez and Falcao under wraps. Colombia are 11/8 to be eliminated in the last-16.
Speaking of Rodriguez, meanwhile, he is very much an outsider for the Golden Boot this time around, with Colombia not expected to make it beyond four games in the tournament. Nevertheless, if you believe lightning can strike twice, Rodriguez is 67/1 with Bet365 to win the Golden Boot, while Falcao is a best price of 41/1 with Ladbrokes and Betfair.
Colombia will expect to progress beyond the group stage, regardless of their result against Poland, but a potential last-16 tie against either Belgium or England will be tricky. The former should be too strong, and even the latter have proved difficult to break down under their current manager.
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Complete list of 32 teams participating in World Cup 2018 and their Group Predictions