Saturday, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the Colombian National Football Team defeated its similar side from Uruguay 2-0 in a Round of 16 match at the World Cup. It was the first time the Colombians have made the quarterfinals of the cup.
The story of the game was not the missing Luis Suarez or Radamel Falcao but the stellar performance of Colombia’s number 10, James Rodriguez, whose brace won the game. The 22-year-old midfielder, who has scored in every Colombian game, has five goals and two assists making him the tournament’s top scorer.
The other two heroes of the game were Colombian goalkeeper David Ospina who had several point blank and long range goal-bound balls to save, and midfield maestro Juan Cuadrado who assisted on the second goal and generally marshalled the middle of the field for the winners.
The game was a back and forth match with opportunities on both sides and tough but well played football. This was a worthy second round game, much different from its predecessor earlier in the day.
The Uruguayans played bravely and did not stop fighting until the ref blew the whistle with four minutes of stoppage time added. But the Colombians were faster, better positioned and more effective in all corners of the pitch.
The first goal of the game was perhaps the best of the tournament. Rodriguez, with his back to the goal and about twenty-five yards out, received the ball from a header on his chest. He turned, after guiding the ball down and to his right with his chest, and volleyed the ball with his left foot. The ball hit the underside of the crossbar after nicking the hands of the full-stretch dive of Fernando Muslera. The ball slammed inside the goal and bounced straight up popping the net. Golazo! It was the 28th minute and the game had been even if beginning to tilt Colombian.
The first half ended 1-0.
In the second half the Colombians seized a great chance and on a long cross from left to right Cuadrado headed back at the far post for Rodriguez to use his right foot this time for the close in score at the 55th minute.
The game had a long time to go, but that second goal seemed to dictate the pace and energy of the game. The Uruguayans are known for their never-say-die attitude and the game continued as a competitive match, but the Colombians could be seen dictating the pace, controlling possession, and basically determining the fate of the match from there on in.
The problem with Colombia and Brazil, is that neither has had to play the Netherlands or Spain, like Chile did, and despite the chasm between the performances of the teams progressing today neither can be considered a contender.
Brazil was lucky beating better team today, Colombia earned a victory against a tough but not better opponent. In their opposite bracket, the teams these South Americans could meet after their match up is concluded, are France, Nigeria, Germany and Algeria. Those four teams have all been playing good football and have done so against tougher competition than what Brazil and Colombia have met.
The six remaining matches should be more entertaining as the teams playing each other do not usually meet but at a World Cup. The difference of styles and the fact that teams such as the Dutch, Mexican, German, Algerian, and Costa Rican, are playing well and peaking as the tournament evolves, augurs well for the days ahead.