The celestial home of football is hosting the World’s biggest sporting event and watching the kind of football we have been witness to over the past few days, I am sure you’re as eager as I am for the real deal- The Knockouts. As teams prepare and strategise to work their magic on the field, we take a look at the Round of 16 match between the winners of Group C and the runners up in the ‘Group of Death’- Colombia vs Uruguay .
All talk is on Luis Suarez and his biting incident with Giorgio Chiellini and with Suarez not going to play a role any further, it will certainly be very tough for the Uruguayans. Although Uruguay do have in their ranks, Edinson Cavani and a certain Diego Forlan, they in no way would be the same force with the unavailability of Suarez. Uruguay minus Suarez would be a major gain for the Colombians and they would certainly be happy about that.
Notwithstanding Luis Suarez, the Uruguayans do have a few players who could prove to be decisive. Diego Godin has been exceptional behind and together with the two full backs- Martin Caéceres and Maxi Pereira, who I must say have been phenomenal, would ensure that Uruguay do have some chance of winning against their opponents who have been very consistent this past year. Gaston Ramirez may be the surprise inclusion considering he provides the extra zip while attacking instead of the more defensive Arevalo Rios. Other than that, I don’t see any major changes in the starting XI.
Columbia do not have any major player missing from their last match. Mario Yepes who did pull his thigh against Ivory Coast but still played against Japan may be slightly rusty considering his age and also the amount of physicality that the Uruguayans impose. Although Yepes has been one of the country’s longest and most faithful servants in the game, the roughness and speed of the Uruguayans may prove to be tough for the slightly rusty Yepes.
If there has been one player who has been exceptional throughout the qualifiers and the World Cup, it has to be Columbian starlet James Rodriguez. Rodriguez’s creativity and sharpness has been terrific, he has proved his worth to his detractors who doubted if he could make it in the big stage and has become a vital cog for both club and country. Along with players such as Juan Cuadrado and Juan Quintero, they’d be a potent force.
1. Pablo Armero vs Cristian Rodriguez
Two key players and it’ll surely be a contest to watch out for. Rodriguez with his pace is against a wily customer in the form of the experienced Pablo Armero. While Armero may not have had a season like Rodriguez who shone under Diego Simeone, he is no less technically gifted. And with players such as Radamel Falcao and the controversial Luis Suarez missing, these two would surely be having a match of their own fighting for the ball.
2. Mario Yepes/ Cristian Zapata vs Edinson Cavani
Without Suarez, Uruguay’s hopes are pinned on PSG’s Edinson Cavani. His speed and aggressiveness with the ball would come in handy considering he’s facing two very experienced defenders. Yepes can be trusted any day but considering his age, I would give Cavani the edge. Zapata on the other hand though has been in fine form and his height brings him on level terms with Cavani who is quite potent while heading.
3. Diego Godin vs Teofillio Gutierrez/ Jackson Martinez
Like teammate Cristian Rodriguez, Deigo Godin has had a fine season with the Los Rajblancos and he must be raring to go in this knockout clash against Colombia. His header against Italy propelled his team ahead and his attacking instincts would be no less important than his defensive capabilities but against Colombia, he would like to be in good shape as he is facing two quality strikers in Teofillio Guitierrez and Jackson Martinez who are very quick and can outclass any defender on their day.
Road to the Round of 16:
vs Greece 3-0
vs Ivory Coast 2-1
vs Japan 4-0
vs Costa Rica 1-3
vs England 2-1
vs Italy 1-0
The Uruguayans are missing their main player; Luis Suarez and considering that, I pip the Colombians this time around though do not take anything away from the Uruguayans. There’s a theory going on that Uruguay might boycott the match in protest against Suarez’s ban and if that does happen it’d be bad a blot on what has been a fine World Cup so far.