Columbia was credited with the first chance to win its group and at one time it was ranked among the favorites to lift the trophy Brazil. The reason for why the South Americans were held in high regard by both bookmakers and football specialists is that they had one of the best offenses. Falcao was supposed to spearhead the attack, but the gifted striker got injured many months before kickoff and despite their best efforts, the therapists couldn’t get him fit to play.
He didn’t even travel with the national team to Brazil, but in his absence a couple of young striker stepped up and they did a fine job throughout the group stage. The manager expected to have a difficult time in choosing between the second and third striker, but nobody could’ve anticipated the interesting turn of events. Colombia used different strikers in the three games so far, but each combination proved to be successful and that’s why it is anyone’s guess how the starting formation will look like on Sunday.
Pekerman is very likely to stick to Rodriguez who didn’t disappoint him in his two games played so far, but it appears to be a mistake to keep Martinez on the bench either. The striker was finally given a chance to sign against Japan and he made the most of this opportunity by scoring twice and barely missing a hat trick. Naturally, he will run into a much more difficult opponent in this stage of last 16, but Uruguay defenses proved to be equally permeable.
Under the right circumstances, Colombia can keep an opponent under constant pressure and prevent it from using any of its offensive weapons. This is great news against a team that has a remarkable trident of strikers, with names such as Suarez, Forlan and Cavani on the list. The reason for why Uruguay is not celebrating their performance in group D, is that they have a hard road ahead and a couple of obstacles that have the potential of turning into huge issues.
To start with, Forlan is a talented but aging striker who can no longer sustain the intensity of a World Cup football game and is very likely to play less than one half. In fact, the coach decided to keep him on the bench early on and he never got the chance to play in the decisive match against Italy. The other big problem is that Suarez could get suspended as a result of improper behavior in the last match, when he allegedly bit an opponent.
Add to this the fact that Cavani is not playing at full potential and is yet to score goals for his team and it is obvious why Uruguay is credited with the second chance. The head to head record is in their favor, but they allowed plenty of goals when things didn’t go according to their plan and home pitch advantage meant a lot for this team. This is not the first time that they are narrow underdogs at the World Cup 2014, but they are clearly playing against better opponents, who are credited with odds of 2.10 to prevail.