Uruguay and Colombia meet in the second match of the knockout stages . This is a match many might have foreseen at the start of the tournament, but perhaps not in such dramatic fashion. After all, Uruguay have qualified from a group in which Italy and England did not. They beat both Italy and England, but lost to Costa Rica. As for Colombia, they won all three matches and scored 9 goals overall. Only the Dutch have scored more goals than them in the group stages. Who saw that happening? Well, it has been that kind of a World Cup after all.
Uruguay did beat Italy and England, but they have not looked convincing so far. They took the lead in their opening match against Costa Rica only to let the Costa Ricans come back and beat them 3-1. Uruguay’s best game was against England where Suarez scored twice to lead them to a 2-1 victory. Everyone knows what happened against Italy. It is worth noting that Italywere playing with 10 men against Uruguay towards the end of the match when Uruguay scored. Many would argue that it should have been the other way round, with Suarez getting a red card and Italy playing with all 11 players. Who knows what would have happened then?
All in all, in spite of living up to the pre-tournament expectations as far as the results are concerned, Uruguay’s victories have been hard-fought ones. Their most convincing victory was against England, but the architect of that win Suarez will not kick another ball in this world Cup for reasons that everyone on the planet must know by now! The other goals for Uruguay came from a penalty and a set piece scored by Godin. (Godin incidentally has a habit of scoring crucial goals in important matches. He scored in the match where Athletico Madrid won the La Liga and also in the Champions League final and of course from a corner in the Italy game where they needed to win to qualify.). Without Suarez, the attack just does not seem to have enough bite. (That is the obligatory Suarez pun out of the way!). Also, all the events surrounding their star player must surely be a distraction for Uruguay, not to mention how demoralizing his absence will be. To add to their worries, their defence has not looked rock-solid all tournament too.
In contrast, Colombia have sparkled till now. Granted, Colombia’s group was nowhere as tough as Uruguay’s, but it is unfair to rate them low just because of that. They have shrugged off the absence of Falcao, their striker, due to injury. In fact, Colombia have arguably produced the break out young player of the tournament so far, James Rodriguez. Just 22 years old, the Monaco midfielder has been in splendid form in the tournament, with 3 goals and 2 Man of the match awards. In the last match they played, in which they beat Japan 4-0, Rodriguez came on as a substitute and had a hand in all three goals which happened after that, providing the assists for two and scoring the last. He is quickly transforming into a real star rather than just another talented young player. Add to this the menace posed by Teo Gutiérrez upfront and it is easy to see why Colombia have been so scintillating in attack. The defence is their weak link, but their counterattacking prowess has helped the defenders since teams seem unwilling to commit too many players forward against them.
Overall, the attacking flair of the Colombians should win the day for them against Uruguay. In fact, it might even be an easy victory, which may lead many to start looking at Colombia as one of the real dark horses in this tournament.
Prediction: Colombia to win 3-1, with Rodriguez adding to his goal tally.