Colombia take on 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar in their second Group B encounter as they look to extend their lead at the top and take control of the group.
Colombia must be feeling confident going into their second Group B game after their opening round victory over Argentina. Los Cafeteros have an excellent chance to put themselves in a strong position to qualify for the quarter-finals. But for that, they need to beat their next opponents, Qatar. The Asian champions are one of the two invited teams alongside Japan.
Much has been spoken about Argentina’s chances in the competition after their loss last week, but not much about Colombia’s brilliant performance to down the Albiceleste. James Rodriguez put his somewhat shaky club form behind him to lead his side from the front, and he would hope to have repeat of that performance against Qatar.
Qatar are here on invitation from the CONMEBOL along with Japan, as has been the tradition of the South American tournament. It is a great chance for Qatar to get a taste of South American football and build their team’s confidence well ahead of the next World Cup to be hosted in the middle-eastern nation.
In that quest to prepare themselves for the big event, Qatar got off to a good start in Brazil. In their first game against Paraguay, they went 2-0 down before crawling back to earn a point. Their exploits in the opening round have got them above Argentina in Group B. A good result against Colombia, and less than satisfactory scoreline for the other two teams in the group could fill them up with hope of qualifying for the quarter-finals.
Team News & Tactics
Carlos Queiroz will be concerned after Luis Muriel was taken off injured just 14 minutes into the game against Argentina. The 28-year-old will now miss the rest of the tournament with a knee injury and could be replaced by Roger Martinez in the starting lineup against Qatar.
Martinez was one of the inspired substitutions from Queiroz against Argentina as the forward came off the bench to score and give his team a deserving lead. The other goalscorer in the game, also from the bench, was Davon Zapata, and he is pushing Radamel Falcao to the brink after the Colombia captain’s lacklustre performance last time out.
Falcao, however, is expected to keep his place against Qatar. With Zapata lurking in from behind, Falcao needs to step up and deliver or run the risk of warming the bench for the rest of the tournament. Apart from the minor, injury-enforced change, Queiroz is expected to retain the rest of the starting lineup from the previous game and will be hoping to collect three points against Qatar.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ospina; Arias, Sanchez, Mina, Tesillo; Cuadrado, Barrios, Uribe; Rodriguez, Falcao, Martinez
Qatar head coach Felix Sanchez Bas will have been pleased with his side’s performance in the opening round fixture to Paraguay. His team were trailing 2-0, only to come back and snatch an unlikely point. Sanchez Bas will be looking to retain the same starting lineup against Colombia and hope to achieve a similar or even better result against Colombia.
The Qatar boss will likely keep faith in Almoez Ali to lead the attacking line on his own with Abdulaziz Hatem playing off him in the second striker role. Otherwise, Qatar are expected to field a four-man midfield and a back four.
At the back, Saad Al Sheeb is expected to start in the Qatar goal, while Pedro Miguel and Abdelkarim Hassan will take up the full-back roles with Bassam Al-Rawi and Tarek Salman their centre-backs for the clash. From Hassan Al-Haydos, Assim Madibo, Boualem Khoukhi and Ali Afif are set to comprise the four-man midfield.
Probable Lineup (4-4-1-1): Al Sheeb; Miguel, Al-Rawi, Salman, Hassan; Al-Haydos, Madibo, Khoukhi, Afif; Hatem; Ali
- Colombia and Qatar will face each other for the very first time in their history.
- Colombia have lost once in their last ten games while conceding just once in their previous five.
- After going on a seven-game winning streak, Qatar have no wins in their last two games including the draw to Paraguay.
- Colombia have won the competition only once in their history
- Qatar are taking part in the Copa America for the first time.
Player to Watch
Going back five years to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, it was James Rodriguez who lit up the tournament with a performance worthy of the Golden Boot. The Real Madrid attacker is well on course to produce an exemplary showing in this edition of Copa America and against Argentina, he proved it. An assist and a complete attacking performance to down Lionel Messi & co. has set him up nicely.
Colombia have a great chance to take a big step forward in the tournament, as a win against Qatar would see them inching closer to the quarter-finals. James is expected to be at the forefront of their pursuit and will be the player to watch out for against Qatar. A tricky situation at club level would also be boosted with some excellent performances in the continental tournament. Will he deliver again?
Colombia 2-0 Qatar
After a masterful display to down Argentina in their opening group game, Colombia have set themselves up nicely to progress further in the tournament. They are the clear favourites to win the second game against Qatar and give themselves every chance of finishing the group as winners.
Qatar, for all their luck and good performances against Paraguay, are facing a more potent opponent in Colombia, against whom they could well be out of their depths. It is an ambitious vision to see the 2022 World Cup hosts beat Colombia in this game and we expect Los Cafeteros to collect all three points in this encounter.