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World Cup 2018 Colombia team profile: How they qualified, star man, World Cup record, fixtures

World Cup Group H team profile: Colombia
By Eurosport

07/06/2018 at 14:29Updated 07/06/2018 at 15:29

Colombia have plenty of stars, most notably in attack and they will be hoping to go one better than 2014 and reach the last four. Can they finally get out of the shadows of other South American teams?

  • Honours: Copa America (Winners 2001, Runners-up 1975), World Cup (Quarter-final 2014)
  • FIFA Ranking: 16

HOW THEY QUALIFIED

Colombia finished fourth in qualifying, the last place guaranteeing direct qualification, managing to see of the likes of Chile and Paraguay.

However, they had to wait until their last game to book their place at the finals, a 1-1 draw against Peru. In their 18 matches"Los Cafeteros" scored just 21 goals.

THE SQUAD

STAR MAN – JAMES RODRIGUEZ (Bayern Munich)

Praised for his technique, vision and playmaking skills, James is often referred to as the successor to Carlos Valderrama. One of the superstars of the last World Cup is currently loaned from Real Madrid to Bayern, where he finally is fulfilling expectations and is expected to sign permanently.

He moved to Europe at the age of 19 to play for Porto and after three seasons in Portugal James was transferred to Monaco and just a year later to Real Madrid.

Colombia's James Rodriguez waves at the end of the friendly football match between Egypt and Colombia at Atleti Azzurri d'Italia Stadium in Bergamo on June 1, 2018.

Colombia's James Rodriguez waves at the end of the friendly football match between Egypt and Colombia at Atleti Azzurri d'Italia Stadium in Bergamo on June 1, 2018.Getty Images

NEXT BIG THING – Davinson Sanchez (Tottenham)

Last summer Tottenham Hotspur paid a club-record fee to bring Sanchez to the Premier League after an impressive season with Ajax where he helped the Amsterdam side reach the Europa League final.

Davinson Sanchez of Colombia runs with ball during the international friendly match between France and Colombia at Stade de France on March 23, 2018 in Paris, France.

Davinson Sanchez of Colombia runs with ball during the international friendly match between France and Colombia at Stade de France on March 23, 2018 in Paris, France.Getty Images

Manager Mauricio Pochettino trusts his skills and he has seen regular playing time in England (31 games last season). Strong, fast, determined – every coach would love to have him on their team.

THE COACH – Jose Pekerman

As a youth coach for Argentina, Pekerman won the FIFA World Youth Championship three times, and the U20 South American Youth Championship twice. With the Argentina national team he reached the quarter-finals of the 2006 World Cup in Germany. He became coach of the Colombian national team in 2012 and for three years in a row he has been chosen as the South American Coach of the Year.

Colombia's national football team coach Nestor Pekerman applauds during the farewell exhibition game ahead of the upcoming FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 tournament, at the Campin stadium in Bogota, on May 25, 2018.

Colombia's national football team coach Nestor Pekerman applauds during the farewell exhibition game ahead of the upcoming FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 tournament, at the Campin stadium in Bogota, on May 25, 2018.Getty Images

Pékerman is known for his tactical management style, often selecting the players that fit his style of coaching. He likes making very controversial selections with line-ups. During his time with the Colombia national team Pékerma made an impressive start, becoming a hero in Colombia for developing another golden generation.

WORLD CUP HISTORY

In five appearances Colombia have advanced from the group stage just twice. In 1990 “La Tricolor” lost 2-1 in the last 16 against Cameroon after extra time. This was the nation’s golden generation lead by Valderrama, Freddy Rincón and Rene Higuita. 24 years later "Los Cafeteros" reached the quarter-final. This time they were stopped by the hosts – Brazil, after losing 2-1. In both cases Colombia was praised for the style and quality of the game.

With an experienced squad Jose Pekerman and his men will feel they can win their group in Russia, just as they did in Brazil, and secure their best ever finish and a possible semi-final with Argentina or Spain.

REASONS FOR OPTIMISM

Every system they choose will contain top-class players and for some of them (Radamel Falcao, Carlos Bacca, Cristian Zapata) it might be their last chance to achieve success at the World Cup.

In the qualifying group the team proved its strength, finishing ahead of Peru, Chile and Paraguay in the standings. In Russia Colombia will be dangerous for everyone.

FIXTURES

  • 19th June – Japan
  • 24th June – Poland
  • 28th June – Senegal
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