Estadio El Teniente, Rancagua
Sunday, June 13 2015; 20:00 GMT
Colombia, champions in 2001, take on Venezuela hoping to confirm 3 points in their bid to reach the knockout stages of the 2015 Copa America.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Despite being ranked No 4 in the world and having reached the quarterfinals of the FIFA World Cup a year ago, Colombia will want to do better than a disappointing quarterfinal defeat 4 years ago. Jose Pekerman takes a strong squad to the tournament and will hope for a strong start to the tournament to set them on their way.
Pekerman normally sets up his teams in a 4-4-2 formation. It looks counterproductive, from a defensive perspective. James Rodriguez’s work rate is often overlooked; but despite being run into the ground at Real Madrid to cover for the lack of cover provided by Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, he should be able to summon some extra energy when in national colours. Chelsea’s Juan Cuadrado will man the right flank; he is quite a handy player for the national team, and may want to prove himself after an underwhelming start may result in him being sold by Chelsea within 6 months of joining.
Despite the breakthrough performances from Real Madrid midfielder James Rodriguez at last year’s FIFA World Cup, recent Manchester United loanee Radamel Falcao will hog the spotlight at the tournament, this time as captain. Falcao’s problems at Manchester United have been well documented, but he has scored 5 goals in his last 5 appearances for Colombia and does not look short of confidence when he plays with the national team. He will partner up front with Porto striker Jackson Martinez, who has been highly rated in Europe for good reason.
Colombia’s star power comes from their forward line, especially when you consider that Sevilla forward Carlos Bacca cannot start for the national team. However, post the retirement of Mario Yepes, Colombia’s defence has been suspect over the past year. This may hurt them later on in the group stage, and hence Cristian Zapata’s role in keeping Zenit striker Salomon Rondon quiet over 90 minutes will be crucial.
Probable Starting Lineup: David Ospina (GK), Juan Zuniga, Cristian Zapata, Jeison Murillo, Darwin Andrade; Juan Cuadrado, Edwin Valencia, Carlos Valencia, James Rodriguez; Jackson Martinez, Radamel Falcao (Capt)
A 4th place in 2011 was Venezuela’s best ever finish in the Copa America. Finishing ahead of Brazil, Chile, Colombia and even then hosts Argentina was an incredible achievement that would be hard to follow through this time around. Noel Sanvicente’s exploits as manager in the past may have taken place in the lowly Venezuelan football league, that too with the most successful club ever, but the experience of winning titles at Caracas can be used to build upon the progress made under Cesar Farias 4 years ago.
There isn’t a lot of star power in this side, hence Venezuela will be dependent on the likes of captain Juan Arango and Jose Salomon Rondon to drag them over the finish line. Juan Arango was a success at Mallorca in the past, but as captain and at 35 years of age, will be required to draw upon his experience going up against Chelsea winger Juan Cuadrado on the left. Fulham defender Fernando Amorebieta will have his hands full dealing with Jackson Martinez and Falcao.
Venezuela will be heavily dependent on Salomon Rondon, fresh from having won the Russian Premier League, to score for them throughout the tournament. Rondon has proved himself to be a reliable goalscorer in Russia, and will be hoping to take advantage of Colombia’s defence being suspect post the retirement of Mario Yepes.
Probable Starting Lineup: Alain Baroja (GK); Roberto Rosales, Oswaldo Vizzcarrondo, Fernando Amorebieta, Gabriel Cichero; Jhon Murillo, Luis Manuel Seijas, Tomas Rincon, Juan Arango (Capt); Jose Salomon Rondon, Josef Martinez
- Colombia captain Radamel Falcao has scored 5 goals in his last 5 games for the national team.
- Only Hulk scored more goals in the 2014-15 Russian Premier League than Venezuela striker Salomon Rondon, who bagged 13 himself.
Player to Watch
Colombia 3a 0 Venezuela
Colombia will be among the pre-tournament favourites thanks to their attacking prowess, with all eyes on Falcao after a hugely disappointing season at United. Venezuela will in all likelihood be in a battle with Peru for a third placed finish that could see them through to the quarter finals, so keeping the scores down against the likes of Colombia and Brazil could be key.Jose Pekerman’s side should get off the mark with a comfortable win regardless, but must be wary of Venezuela’s threat on the counter.
Blast From the Past
This will be their first Copa meeting in 11 years, and Colombia have actually won both of their previous meetings in the tournament without conceding a goal.