Colombia WC2018 Match Day 2: The brewing begins for Los Cafeteros

Colombia WC2018 celebrations

After the starting their 2018 World Cup campaign with a surprising disaster against Japan due to an early sending-off of Carlos Sanchez, Colombia showed their true selves with an emphatic bounce-back performance against Poland.

Now we’ve just witnessed the real strength of Los Cafeteros, as they showed their complex blend of attacking prowess and zest – just like a good cuppa.

Now their main challenge as they face a dangerous Senegal squad in their aim to get into the Round of 16 is, can they keep their heads down and focus on maintaining this level of play?

Looking at their historical track record in recent participations, lack of character, complacency and a tendency to commit mistakes are the ghosts they need to exorcise this 2018.

2014 has been a primer of the possibilities to come as they reached the quarter finals stage for the first time in their history. And now with the core stars intact and more mature after four years and with the sorry result against Japan now well behind, all eyes will be on the South Americans’ make-or-break game against the Africans if they can replicate, or better yet surpass, the now memorable and instant classic 2014 campaign.

Probably the highest quality of Colombian blend achieved

Colombia’s manager, and in this case – blend master, Jose Pekerman probably just came out with the finest and most potent blend of players that faced Robert Lewandowski and Company with the two main stars, James Rodriguez and Juan Cuadrado leading from the flanks.

But the magic touch and secret ingredients mainly lie in the addition of the following quality elements that further enhanced his squad.

Yerry Mina’s defensive and aerial prowess

The towering defender currently with Catalan giants Barcelona had added a dimension to the Colombian’s game particularly in set pieces and aerial balls as demonstrated in his 40th minute header from an aerial feed by James Rodriguez that kicked-off the proceedings towards a memorable night for Los Cafeteros against Poland in Kazan.

Despite not featuring regularly for Barcelona, he’s only 23 years old which means he is in the lineup in preparation for the club’s future and it seems the future is bright for Barca and its faithful cules. But in the meantime, Jose Pekerman can be lauded with his decision to field the centre-back in place of Oscar Murillo.

Aside from scoring a spectacular goal his main abilities on the defensive end have been on full display to great effect when he was able to shut down Poland’s most feared striker, Robert Lewandowski on a number of occasions.

If Colombia will reach the next phase of the tournament, Mina’s presence should sound the alarm for the South Americans’ next possible rivals.

Juan Quintero’s breakout as a starter

If James Rodriguez was Colombia’s breakout star last 2014, in 2018 it’s turning out to be River Plate’s attacking midfielder, Juan Quintero.

Brilliant in set pieces, providing the only goal in the loss against Japan off a clever under the wall free-kick, Quintero’s quality was again shown against Poland when he provided the assist for Falcao’s goal and the team’s second of the match.

This is now his second World Cup appearance but he featured the last time around only as a substitute that was used once.

His addition by Pekerman now as a starter in the centre of the park along with brilliant James and the elegant Cuadrado on either of his side served as the last piece of the puzzle for the three-man attacking midfield that is brimming with pace, creativity and goalscoring abilities. This is where Colombia’s main attacking force lies now and its devastating effects have been full display for all to see last Match Day 2.

El Tigre blend unleashed

With a full squad in their second assignment, Radamel “El Tigre” Falcao was able to operate fully as a striker, not devoid of any services from his midfield suppliers. The result, was a 70th minute goal that padded their lead against the Poles.

It was his first goal in the World Cup finals and it can be considered surely as Falcao’s signature El Tigre type of goal.

Now that his World Cup duck has been broken, there’s a high possibility that more will come if they can get through the hump of the group stage.

Ingredients complete, now it’s time to deliver

This batch of Colombia’s national team, like a few other squads this 2018, is turning out to be something special.

Although their latest win puts them ever closer to qualifying to the next phase of the tournament, they are still in that “so close, yet so far zone” as standing in their way are Senegal’s dangerous Lions of Teranga.

If Jose Pekerman’s wards can power through this most important match of their lives for their passage into the next stage, then it could be the start of a very good run. But if they stumble, this Colombian team will end up as its most talented ever (probably much better than the vintage Valderrama-led 1990 edition or the 2014 squad) to miserably end in failure.