In the words of Valderamma, the former Colombian captain – this Colombian side has it in them to go to the finals – a stage where no Colombian football team has ever reached in a World Cup and something no one else predicted. Always remembered for the infamous Escobar incident, this Colombian team is like any other Latin American team but with the coach Pekerman at the helm a lot of discipline and purpose has been added to their flair. That is making a huge difference. Though an Argentinian by origin, Jose Pekerman has Colombian connections as his daughter is married to a Colombian and lives there. As a result the respect he commands from the people and the players is tremendous and is so important for this team to take the giant leap against Brazil. They come into the quarterfinals after confident performances throughout the group stages and appear quite relaxed. The 27th minute goal against Uruguay is enough indication that James Rodriguez is the best thing that happened to football in general and Colombia in particular. They have to believe they can win and use his abilities to create history.
On the other hand, Brazil had to take the services of a psychologist to cool the emotions of the team after the Chile game. Brazil are nervous and look ordinary at the goal, what with both their forwards Fred and Jo having a miserable World Cup. Scolari tried out the 3-5-2 formation during training and Neymar can easily fit into this smoothly. But the issue is will he leave the Centre Forward out at the start of the game against Colombia. I believe playing without the Centre Forward position will be the key to success and Pekerman’s side will find it difficult to handle the pace of the Brazilians in such a scenario. If the hosts can play the way they did in the first 20 minutes of their game against Chile they will be unstoppable. Oscar and the others need to take inspiration from Hulk and Neymar and should start performing to their full potential. Colombians will take full advantage of any casual defending or unforced errors from them.
Both the teams have met 14 times before and Colombia have only beaten them once in 1991. But history seems to be the only thing on Brazil’s side for this match up as the red hot Colombians are confident, talented and a successful team at this World cup. It will be a World Cup classic for sure but if and only if the match doesn’t go into penalty shootouts. All said and done, I still expect Brazil to win by a narrow margin – just because they are Brazil.
Brazil: Cesar, Marcelo, Silva, Alves, Luiz, Paulinho, Fernandinho, Hulk, Neymar, Fred, Willian.
Colombia: Ospina; Armero, Yepes, Zapata, Zunjiga; Guarin, Sanchez, Vargas, Martinez, Rodriguez; Teofilo.
Prediction: 2-1 to Brazil