Colombia in focus ahead of World Cup clash with England
A look at England’s opponents in their round of 16 clash in Moscow on Tuesday.
England will play Colombia in their round of 16 clash in Moscow on Tuesday after finishing second in Group G behind Belgium.
Colombia topped Group H after winning their final group game against Senegal and here Press Association Sport runs the rule over Los Cafateros.
Colombia are appearing in their second successive World Cup and their sixth overall, with their best performance coming at the 2014 tournament when they reached the quarter-finals.
The South Americans were narrowly beaten by hosts Brazil in the last eight that year, going down 2-1 in Fortaleza having finished top of their group. They overcame Uruguay 2-0 in the round of 16 thanks to two goals from James Rodriguez.
Los Cafateros failed to make it beyond the group stages at the 1962, 1994 and 1998 World Cups, but reached the last 16 in 1990, losing 2-1 to Cameroon after extra time.
Colombia have never beaten England in five previous meetings and have played them only once before at a World Cup, with that encounter ending in a 2-0 victory for the Three Lions in the group stages at France 1998.
England, who needed only a draw to reach the last 16, knocked Colombia out of the tournament in their final group game in Lens, with Darren Anderton and David Beckham both scoring in the first half. Glenn Hoddle’s side went on to lose 4-3 on penalties to Argentina in the quarter-finals after the game ended 2-2 after extra time.
Colombia lost their first-ever match against England 4-0 in a World Cup warm-up match in Bogota in 1970 and the two sides drew 1-1 when they met at Wembley in the short-lived Rous Cup in 1988.
Goalkeeper Rene Higuita stole the show in their next match in 1995, again at Wembley, when his famous ‘scorpion kick’ kept out a shot from Jamie Redknapp during a goalless draw and Michael Owen’s hat-trick secured England a 3-2 win in New Jersey in 2005.
James Rodriguez emerged as a star at Brazil 2014 and earned a reported £63million move from Monaco to Real Madrid as a result, but the midfielder, on loan at Bayern Munich last season, has struggled with injury so far in Russia.
Rodriguez missed Colombia’s opening defeat to Japan due to a calf injury and although he played the full 90 minutes in the 3-0 win against Poland, he was forced off in the first half in their 1-0 victory over Senegal.
If Rodriguez fails to recover in time it will be a big blow to Colombia’s chances, but they overcame his absence against Senegal and in Juan Quintero, the Porto midfielder on loan at River Plate, they have a playmaker desperate to justify the hype that has surrounded him since making his full international debut six years ago at the age of 19.
Winger Juan Cuadrado, who has put a disappointing spell at Chelsea in 2015 behind him to become a major force at Juventus, has the guile to trouble the English defence and centre-half Davinson Sanchez’s brilliant performance against Senegal will have been noted by Tottenham team-mate Harry Kane.
Jose Pekerman spent two years in charge of Argentina and steered them to the quarter-finals of the 2006 World Cup in Germany, only to resign following his side’s defeat to the hosts on penalties.
He was appointed as Colombia’s coach in 2012 and was the architect behind them reaching the World Cup finals for the first time in 16 years and their impressive showing at Brazil 2014, for which he was rewarded with a contract extension until 2018.
After an undistinguished playing career, the 68-year-old Argentinian made his name as a youth coach in his country’s national team set-up and guided Argentina’s Under-20s to world championship glory in 1995, 1997 and 2001.