The Colombian national team already training in Madrid, Spain for their upcoming friendlies vs. Spain (June 7th) and Cameroon (June 13th). Colombia prepares for their crucial World Cup qualifiers matches vs. Venezuela and Brazil, matches which can secure a spot in the world Cup for the second time in a raw. For the friendly matches coach Jose Nestor Pekerman called up 24 players and I will analyse each position plus my lineups for both games.
David Ospina – Arsenal
Camilo Vargas – Deportivo Cali
While Ospina is our no. 1 goalkeeper and keepg his form high despite the fact that he is not a starter in Arsenal, our main problem is with the second goalkeeper. While in the past we had several options, now all the decent goalkeepers are not near Ospina’s standart. Vargas decreased his form in the last year, same as Jose Cuadrado of Caldas. David Gonzalez of Medellin is the 3rd choice usually but he also didn’t have the best semester. In Nacional, Junior & Millonarios there are foreign goalkeepers and Santa fe has also a decent candidate like Castellanos. at the end I think that Pekeman needs to hurry and call Argentine Franco Armani, who also have Colombian nationality. He is by far the best goalkeeper in the league and should be in the squad.
Cristian Zapata – Ac Milán
Santiago Arias – Psv Eindhoven
Dávinson Sánchez – Ajax
John Stefan Medina – Pachuca
Óscar Murillo – Pachuca
Frank Fabra – Boca Juniors
Yerry Mina – Palmeiras
Pablo Armero – Bahía
After several years that we didn’t have potential world class center backs (with all due respect to Mario Yepes who was amazing at the age of 38), now it seems that we have two of them – Yerry Mina and Davinson Sanchez. Both of them had a wonderful season, especially young Sanchez who completed his debut year in Europe with Ajax as their best player of the season. Both players are on Barcelona’s radar and most likely that at least one of them will join soon to the Spanish giant. Besides them we have another pair of good CB like Zapata and Oscar Murillo.
Yerry Mina, huge potential to become a world class center back
The toughest situation is with our wing backs, both right and left. It seems like Colombia is having trouble to find players in these positions who will be at least in the same level of Zuñiga & Armero of three years ago. Zuñiga is no longer part of the national team since the Copa America 2015 and Pablo Armero just returned mostly because we simply do not have too many options. Sachi Arias does a good job as a right back, sometimes Medina replace him and when things are difficult Pekerman even tries Cuadrado. Maybe if Helibelton Palacios will improve his form in FC Brugge or even Matheus Uribe who played good in this position in Nacional, maybe they’ll be the alternative to Arias.
As for the left back position, Farid Diaz lost form and Fabra usually disappoint when it comes to the national team, so Pekerman had to bring back Armero even though it’s not the same player as three years ago. So Diaz wasn’t called because Nacional will play in the playoff of the league, but Fabra is still part of the team, at least until a suitable replacement will be found.
Carlos Sánchez – Fiorentina
Juan Guillermo Cuadrado – Juventus
James Rodríguez – Real Madrid
Daniel Torres – Alavés
Edwin Cardona – Monterrey
Wilmar Barrios – Boca Juniors
Abel Aguilar – Deportivo Cali
Giovanni Moreno – Shanghái Shenhua
Beside the regular names like James and Cuadrado, Pekerman surprised here when the call up of talented Giovanny Moreno. ‘Gio’ who plays successfully in China, is one of the best players there during the last years but beside one time, never been a part of Pekerman’s squad. It’s still doesn’t mean that he will be called fro now on, but it’s surely a good change in my opinion since we know what he is capable of. ‘Gio’ is a game changer, he can help James & Cardona to hold the ball in the middle of the field, he has excellent technique for his size and a powerful left leg. I have no doubt that he can help us and I hope he’ll get the chance in one of these friendly.
‘Gio’ returns to the national team
James Rodriguez will want to prove the Spanish fans that he didn’t forget to play. James had this season the toughest year of his career and most probably won’t continue in Real, but in Colombia he is the boss. He is the only player (with Ospina) in the squad that we must have him in high form. When he is good, we usually play good.
Radamel Falcao – As Mónaco
Carlos Bacca – Ac Milán
Luis Fernando Muriel – Sampdoria
Teófilo Gutiérrez – Rosario Central
Miguel Borja – Palmeiras
José Izquierdo – Brujas
Falcao is back! This is the greatest news we could get. After a wonderful season which ended in a historic title for Monaco, Falcao is ready for his revenge. Falcao wants to be in Russia 2018 and it’s a great time to start scoring goals for the national team after more then two years. And not only that’ he received his partner, Teo Gutierrez. For those of you who may forgot, these two were deadly and the main reason of our qualification to Brazil 2014. Teo looks good in the last couple of weeks and Pekerman decided to bring him also back.
Once again in yellow, Radamel Falcao
Another change is the debut call of Jose Izquierdo from Brugge. He was already chosen for the best player in Belgium last year and without his injuries he would’ve wear yellow already. Now it’s a good moment to test him, maybe not against Spain but surely against Cameroon, he can be great addition for us. Carlos Bacca didn’t finish the season so well, but still consider as one of the best Colombia strikers. I personally would drop Bacca for these friendlies and call up Duvan Zapata.
My lineup VS
I would like to use our best starting lineup vs. Spain, the toughest match between the two. My formation will be the regular of Pekerman, using 4-2-3-1 with the pair of Zapata-Mina in the middle of the defense and with double ‘5’ like ‘La Roca’ Sanchez & wilmar Barrios, who is in a great shape in Boca. Up front we’ll have James as our ’10’, While Cardona on the left side and Cuadrado on the right side will help him to hold up the ball. Radamel Falcao will be the lone striker who will hopefully beat De Gea.
My Lineup VS
This formation will be more adventurous, 3-4-3, using the second string of the squad.I will use three center backs – Zapata, Murillo and Davinson and in the flanks there will be Cuadrado on the right and Fabra on the left. The will perform more as midfielders then as defenders, knowing there are three in the back. Abel Aguilar will be the defensive midfielder while Gio Moreno will be behind the striker, position which he knows and love. The three strikers will be Izquierdo and Muriel as wingers, while Miguel Borja will play as a ‘9’. Very offensive lineup but vs. Cameroon it should do the job.