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Los jugadores de Colombia James Rodriguez (i) y Radamel Falcao Garcia (d) celebran después de anotar un gol. 
Colombian players James Rodriguez (i) and Radamel Falcao Garcia (d) are the stars of the Colombia team. EFE

It is Colombia’s time

After an excellent performance in Brazil’s 2014 World Cup, Team Colombia will try to prove in Russia in 2018 that it belongs amongst planet football’s top…

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There is no doubt that Colombia’s 2014 World Cup was the best one in team history. The South Americans shined in a group round in which they destroyed their opponents, collecting all of the possible nine points in three games. At the rhythm of a choke, they danced around the Greeks, Ivories and Japanese, scoring nine goals and allowing only two.

Then, in a memorable round-of-16 contest, Colombia swept Uruguay on the field, winning 2-0 on two goals scored by James Rodriguez. One of them—voted the best score of the tournament—will remain in our minds for the rest of our lives.

The quarter final stage was not easy for the Colombians. Team Brazil was not playing its best soccer, but they is always an uncomfortable opponent on their own soil. A 2-1 defeat ended the dream of a Colombian National Team that showed on different occasions the most precious soccer displayed during the whole tournament.

Despite the loss, players were received like heroes back home by a hopeful country that still expects the very best after waiting four long years. Colombian fans have a reason to dream. Their national squad comes back with all of its star players and the addition of leader striker Radamel Falcao, who missed the last World Cup because of a knee injury.

As usual, the way to the World Cup got complicated for José Pékerman’s team. Colombia had to wait until the last game to certify its bid for Russia 2018 in a complex South American qualifying group. After losing at home, 2-1, against Paraguay, things got complicated, but the Colombians earned a hard-fought draw at Peru, 1-1, to clinch their spot for Russia 2018.

Regardless of the qualifying process, everybody starts from scratch in the World Cup. Luck smiled on Colombia in the tournament’s draw. The South Americans will play in Group H with Poland, Senegal and Japan. We can affirm Pékerman’s squad will reach again the next round.

There the path will not be easy. But a group of veteran players who have excelled in European soccer like Falcao, James (who led the last World Cup with six goals and is currently shining in Bayern Munich), Juan Guillermo Cuadrado and Carlos Bacca, with emerging starts like Luis Muriel and Yerry Mina—recently signed by Spanish powerhouses Sevilla and FC Barcelona, respectively—has to be taken in consideration.

In fact, I believe Colombia has to be at the top of the list of outsiders to go all the way in Russia 2018.

 

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