Estadio do Maracana, Rio de Janeiro
June 28, 2014; 21:00 BST
Colombia and Uruguay face each other in an exciting round of 16 clash at the legendary Estadio do Maracana at Rio de Janeiro.
Los Charrúas have had the better of Colombia in recent past having won four of their last six encounters between these two sides. Colombia’s last win over Uruguay came in 2012 when Teofilo Gutieerrez scored a memorable brace and Luis Suarez was absent from the line-up. Incidentally, the Liverpool striker will miss this clash as well having been suspended for biting Giorgio Chiellini in their last game.
Colombia have also missed their star striker Radamel Falcao in this tournament due to injury, but it is evident that they have coped with absence better than what Uruguay did when Suarez was unavailable during their opening match against Costa Rica. Jose Pekerman’s side have been one of the most exciting teams to watch in this tournament so far and they won all their matches in Group C to qualify for this round.
Uruguay, on the other hand, succumbed to a shocking defeat against Costa Rica in their opening game, won their match against England and struggled to produce their best against Italy, despite the win in the end – which saw them through. Oscar Tabarez has a lot of work to do to organize his side ahead of this fixture and he will be worried about whether his defence can cope with the pacy Colombian attack.
Team news and tactics
Jose Pekerman doesn’t have any fitness concerns to contain with ahead of this fixture. Mario Yepes, who picked up an hamstring problem earlier this week, was rested in the last game against Japan and is expected to return to the starting line-up ahead of the round of 16 clash against Uruguay.
Yepes was one of the eight players Pekerman chose to rest in their last group game having already secured their qualification into the next round and these players will feature in the next match. Cristian Zapata and Juan Zuniga will return to the backline along with Yepes, while Pablo Armero starts at the left back.
Pekerman shifted to a 4-1-4-1 formation against Japan with Alexander Mejia shielding the defence, but he will use his more favoured 4-2-3-1 formation against Uruguay with Carlos Sanchez and Abel Aguilar forming the pivot.
In attack, Fredy Guarin and Adrian Ramos will drop back to the bench while Teofilo Gutierrez replaces Juan Quintero, who operated as a support striker in the last game, to lead the line. James Rodriguez, who produced a brilliant performance in the second half after coming on as a substitute will play in a free-role behind Quintero and Colombia is dependent on him to produce the creativity in attack.
Pekerman opted to start with Victor Ibarbo in the first two games of the World Cup with Jackson Martinez being reduced to a role on the bench. But the Porto striker scored a wonderful brace against Japan having started his first match in the World Cup and will hold onto his place in the starting eleven for this round of 16 clash. With Uruguay using Martin Caceres, who isn’t a regular full back and prefers to play as a center back, as right back in their defence, Martinez can be a big threat down their left wing as Colombia look to stretch their opponent’s defence.
Expected starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Ospina (GK); Zuniga, Zapata, Yepes, Armero; Aguilar, Sanchez; Cuadrado, Rodriguez, Martinez; Gutierrez
Despite qualifying for the round of 16, Uruguay has been in the news for all the wrong reasons with Luis Suarez grabbing headlines after Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini became his latest bite victim. The Liverpool striker has been suspended by FIFA and will miss the rest of the World Cup, and has been a big set-back for Oscar Tabarez’s ambitions for this tournament.
Oscar Tabarez has made quite a few changes to his starting line-up through-out the tournament. Diego Forlan will replace Luis Suarez in attack, but it will be interesting to see the formation Tabarez chooses to start with against Colombia.
Uruguay struggled without Suarez in their first match of the World Cup against Costa Rica as Tabarez opted to use a 4-4-2 formation. The midfield was overrun in that game and Tabarez shifted to a more prudent 4-3-1-2 formation against England with Walter Gargano being replaced by Alvaro Gonzalez in the midfield, while Nicolas Lodeiro played in a free role behind the two strikers.
Against Italy, Tabarez used a back five and used Gonzalez and Alvaro Pereira as wing backs, this was more to deal with Italy’s midfield, but for most of the game his side failed to create too many chances and now with the absence of Suarez, he is likely to make tactical changes once again.
Tabarez is likely to switch back to the 4-3-1-2 formation that worked well against England with Forlan and Cavani leading the line. Lodeiro will once again play in a free role behind the strike force with Gonzalez returning to the midfield alongside Egidio Arevalo Rios and Rodriguez.
Expected starting line-up (4-3-1-2): Muslera (GK); Caceres, Godin, Gimenez, Pereira; Gonzalez, Rios, Rodriguez; Lodeiro; Forlan, Cavani
- There has been four red cards in the last six meetings between Colombia and Uruguay.
- 19 goals have been scored in the last six encounters between them.
- Colombia have the best goal difference among the teams that have qualified to the round of 16, along with Netherlands.
- Uruguay have the worst goal difference, after Greece, among the sixteen teams in this round.
Players to watch-out for
James Rodriguez (Colombia)
James Rodriguez has announced his arrival onto the big stage with a string of delightful performances for Colombia in the World Cup. A lot of people questioned the huge transfer fee that Monaco paid for him while signing him from Porto last year, but Rodriguez has grown in stature since that move and is well on his way to fulfill his unquestionable talent. There were a lot of concerns when Jose Pekerman’s side flew to Brazil without star striker Radamel Falcao, as fans wondered who will provide the spark in attack in his absence, but Rodriguez has stepped up to the plate and filled Falcao’s shoes as the leading star in this exciting Colombian side. We will hear a lot more about his 22-year-old in days to come.
Colombia 2-1 Uruguay
The absence of Suarez will weaken this Uruguayan side considerably and they have already struggled without him in this tournament. Colombia, on the other hand, have been one of the most exciting teams in the World Cup so far and the leaky Uruguayan defence is unlikely to cope with the pace and guile of their attack. Los Cafeteros will win this encounter by a goal’s margin.