Colombia's strength lies in attack
Coach Pekerman will rely heavily on Falcao, Cuadrado and star man Rodriguez
- Coach: Jose Pekerman
The 68-year-old Argentinian is a World Cup veteran. He guided Argentina to the quarter-finals in 2006 and, more impressively, equalled the feat with Colombia at the last World Cup. An astute tactician, he steered the Colombians to three victories into the group stages and has high hopes of topping the group this time round.
- Star players: James Rodriguez, Radamel Falcao, Juan Cuadrado
- Best World Cup result: Quarter-finals (2014)
- Performance at last World Cup: Quarter-finals
GROUP H FIXTURES
- June 19: Colombia v Japan, 8pm
- June 19: Poland v Senegal, 11pm
- June 24: Japan v Senegal, 11pm
- June 25: Poland v Colombia, 2am
- June 28: Japan v Poland, 10pm
- June 28: Senegal v Colombia, 10pm
* All in Singapore time
James Rodriguez caught the ball on his chest. He swivelled. He executed an exquisite volley and the 2014 World Cup had its goal of the tournament.
Rodriguez also ended up with the Golden Boot, after scoring six goals for Colombia, but has laboured in his own shadow ever since.
Four years later, a nagging sense of unfulfilled potential remains.
At the last World Cup, the nifty Colombian was arguably the attacking player of the tournament. At the upcoming event, there's a pressing need to make up for lost time.
As a squad member at Real Madrid, he played a part in the major European successes without ever really being a regular in the starting XI. But his loan spell at Bayern Munich feels like a minor resurrection.
A superb season in Germany led to the Bundesliga season, but the loanee was no tokenistic presence. In Bayern's line-up, Rodriguez has looked more like the explosive maverick of four years ago.
If Brazil was a breakthrough, Russia represents a chance to really lead the line.
At 26, Rodriguez is mature, much-travelled and fast approaching his peak.
He now forms part of an attacking duo with much to prove.
Radamel Falcao, Colombia's brightest star before Rodriguez arrived, missed the last World Cup through injury.
A couple of torrid spells in English football with Manchester United and Chelsea swiftly followed before he rediscovered his scoring touch in Monaco.
Both Falcao and Rodriguez are in-form at the right time, which is handy for a Colombian side that toiled through qualification and dropped points against the South American heavyweights.
Fortunately, Tottenham's Davinson Sanchez and Barcelona's Yerry Mina are a couple of rising centre-backs.
But Sanchez is just 21 and the 23-year-old Mina made only five appearances for the Catalan giants last season, yet they'll be thrown into the World Cup group stages.
Coach Jose Pekerman isn't overwhelmed with defensive options or a deep squad.
What he does have are attacking performers of the calibre of Rodriguez, Falcao and Juventus' Juan Cuadrado, a trio of penalty box terriers blessed with the ability to beat anyone.
Still, Colombia's hopes will largely rest with Rodriguez.
In 2014, his stupendous strike catapulted him into the unfamiliar world of showbusiness.
In 2018, he has unfinished business.