Spain and Colombia go head-to-head in an international friendly at the Neuva Condomia in Spain on Wednesday.
Spain have suffered a great fall in the world rankings, with the former World Champions now ranked as low as tenth. Julen Lopetegui and his men will be looking to climb up the ranks and also establish themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the international scene.
Colombia, on the other hand, are actually placed fifth on the world rankings and a win against Spain on Wednesday can further validate their place on the world rankings. Jose Pekerman has been widely hailed as a master tactician and it will be interesting to see if he will be able to test the Spanish side.
We take a closer look at the fixture.
Team News & Tactics
While other giants like Germany have actually called a relatively younger and inexperienced group of players to the setup, Spain have called most of the superstars up, with Lopetegui aiming to make a statement in the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.
David De Gea is likely to command La Roja goal, with his club future still in speculation. Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique are likely to be the choice for the central defence while Lopetegui is likely to stick with Jordi Alba at left-back, as he has done despite being often benched at Barcelona.
Asier Illaramendi has been called up the national squad and is in line to make his debut while Marco Asensio’s encouraging performances have seen him called up again by Lopetegui. Vitolo has become a regular fixture under Lopetegui and is likely to continue the trend.
Thiago has emerged as the holding midfielder and the deep-lying playmaker under Lopetegui and will mostly be entrusted to perform the same duties.
Probable Lineup ( 4-3-3 ): De Gea; Carvajal, Ramos, Pique, Alba; Isco, Thiago, Koke; Pedro, Diego Costa, Vitolo
Colombia, too, have called up most of their mega-stars up to the squad as Pekerman aims to consolidate their place on the world rankings. Radamel Falcao and Carlos Bacca are likely to be the main men upfront for the Latin American side while David Ospina will, in all likeliness, be the first-choice for the goalkeeping slot.
Yerry Mina and Davinson Sanchez have been impressive in the recent past and amidst speculation linking both the players to Barcelona, the youngsters would be keen to perform on the international level, where a good performance against Spain good drive up the interest in their services.
All eyes, though, will be on James Rodriguez, who is supposed to be on his way out of Madrid. The player will be eager to show Real exactly what they will be missing and is likely to be the troublemaker on Wednesday.
Pekerman likes compact lineups that can defend well and build attacks mostly from the wings. However, James Rodriguez will likely be given a free role in the middle and we could very well see the Real Madrid superstar popping up at spaces to become the trequartista of the Colombian side on the day.
Probable Lineup ( 4-2-1-3): Ospina; Arias, Sanchez, Mina, Armero; Carlos Sanchez, Barrios; Rodriguez; Cuadrado, Bacca, Falcao
1. David Ospina can go level with Luis Carlos Perea at 78 senior caps with a start on Wednesday, becoming the joint fifth-highest cap accumulator for Colombia. The player is already the most capped goalkeeper in the nation’s history.
2. Radamel Falcao can go clear at the top of the goalscoring record books for Colombia with a goal on Wednesday. The player is currently tied with Arnoldo Iguaran at 25 goals. James Rodriguez and Carlos Bacca have 19 and 13 respectively and can move up the order with goals to their name as well.
3. Jose Pekerman is the longest-serving national team manager in Colombia’s footballing history.
4. Spain are yet to be defeated under the tutelage of Julen Lopetegui, who has 6 wins and 2 draws from his 8 games in-charge of La Furia.
5. The two sides have met only once in the the 21st century, with Spain eking out a 1-0 win over Colombia in 2011, thanks to a David Silva goal.
Player to Watch
Manchester United and Inter Milan have started talks with Real in a bid to sign £60m-rated James Rodríguez. (Source: MEN) pic.twitter.com/TSN0mEJr8O
— Transfer News Live (@DeadlineDayLive) June 6, 2017
The Real Madrid superstar is speculated to be heading towards either of Manchester United or Inter Milan, as per latest reports. And, a performance on Wednesday would give the suitors more gumption in the pursuit while it could give Real Madrid more negotiation power going into the discussions.
The player has often been the talisman for Colombia and with Pekerman giving Rodriguez the free role in most of the games, expect James Rodriguez to pop up with a goal or an assist at the very least against what is going to be a group of familiar faces for the Colombian.
Spain 2 – 2 Colombia
Julen Lopetegui is unlikely to suffer his first defeat of his present stint on Wednesday. However, Colombia are likely to give them a scare. Pekerman’s side are currently second on the CONMEBOL qualifiers standings and will provide a stern test for the Spanish national side.
Colombia, in all likeliness, will end up taking the lead at some point during the game and Lopetegui’s substitutions are likely to be the factor that shifts the advantage towards the Spanish side. It is likely to be going a high-scoring match and a 2-2 draw.
However, Spain might just edge it as well.