ROUND OF 16
COLOMBIA vs. URUGUAY
SATURDAY 28TH JUNE – RIO DE JANEIRO
Uruguay should be focusing on repeating or bettering their 4th place finish in the past 2010 World Cup. Instead, the country has been rocked by the news of talisman Luis Suarez missing for the rest of the tournament with a nine-game ban because of an inexplicable bite on Giorgio Chiellini. What Uruguay has to keep in mind is that their opponents, Colombia are far from being also-rans.
Colombia is currently enjoying highest success ever and has a wealth of talent on their side having cruised into the final 16 with a game to spare. This is in spite of missing one of the best strikers their country has ever seen – Radamel Falcao, who succumbed to injury before the tournament even began. While fellow Round of 16 qualified team Belgium has been touted as being the dark horses of this World Cup, they have far from impressed as they barely won their matches by a one goal margin; this has led to the title shifting to Colombia with their eye-catching performances.
While the attacking ability of Colombia has been catching the eye, with the likes of James Rodriguez, Juan Fernando Quintero and Jackson Martinez performing on the biggest stage of them all. There has been one other player that has consistently been a rock in defence with his aggression and great reading of the game. His name is, Mario Yepes. At the ripe old age of 38, he possesses all the experience in the world and holds this Colombian side together. The man who is about to make 100 appearances for his country said, “Uruguay were inconsistent in qualifying, but they are very difficult opponents and we must respect them in the same way we respected our group-stage opponents.”
In Suraze’s absence, veteran striker Diego Forlan is to be thrown into the foray – partnering Edinson Cavani at Uruguay’s frontline, as he did when Suarez missed the opening game due to injury. Forlan who played for Manchester United, isn’t exactly at the top of his game, so Cavani will be relied on to finish any and all of the chances that the team conjures up. Having beaten the big guns England and Italy en route to finishing second in the group, a Suarez-less Uruguay will not roll over just as much as Colombia will not.
As cliché as it may sound, you can expect all sparks to fly as both teams will not want to head for the exit following impressive performances in the group stages. While Colombia will go for the all-out attack with James Rodriguez relied on to be the creative spark, Uruguay will hit on the counter-attack as they soak and strike with Cavani to bang in the goals. The game will begin after knowing their fate in the next stage of the competition, as the winner of the Brazil vs Chile would already have been crowned. Based on their form and the off-field controversies involving Uruguay’s best player Suarez, I expect a slim Colombia win despite the different tournament histories between both sides.
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