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SquadEdit

Goalkeepers: Faryd Mondragon (Deportivo Cali), David Ospina (Nice), Camilo Vargas (Santa Fe)

Defenders: Santiago Arias (PSV), Pablo Armero (West Ham), Eder Alvarez Balanta (River Plate), Carlos Valdes (San Lorenzo), Mario Yepes (Atalanta), Cristian Zapata (Milan), Camilo Zuniga (Napoli)

MidfieldersAbel Aguilar (Toulouse), Juan Guillermo Cuadrado (Fiorentina), Fredy Guarin (Inter Milan), Victor Ibarbo (Cagliari), Alexander Mejia (Atletico Nacional), Juan Fernando Quintero (Porto), Carlos Carbonero (Estuidiantes), James Rodriguez (Monaco), Carlos Sanchez (Elche)

Forwards: Carlos Bacca (Sevilla), Teofilo Gutierrez (River Plate), Jackson Martinez (Porto), Adrian Ramos (Borussia Dortmund)

Colombia
Edit

Team ProfileEdit

Colombia will end a 16-year absence from the FIFA World Cup finals this year, but their plans have been thrown into turmoil by the loss of their talisman.

The South American nation's last appearance at football's most famous tournament came in 1998, when they failed to get past the group stages.

Colombia have since struggled on the international stage, but it seemed as though Jose Pekerman's side were set to head to Brazil with reason for considerable optimism after an encouraging qualifying campaign that saw them finish second to Argentina in the notoriously difficult CONMEBOL section.

And then, with the finals looming, they suffered a significant blow.

There is always one star player who fails to make the tournament. Someone who is widely tipped to star on the biggest stage and whose dreams are then shattered before they have even begun.

This year it is Colombia's Radamel Falcao.

The striker was rocketed into the bracket of one of Europe's top marksmen following a big-money move to Ligue 1 title challengers Monaco ahead of the 2013-14 season.

But in January he damaged a cruciate knee ligament in a Coupe de France tie against Monts d'Or Azergues.

For months, a nation held its breath, but the news that all Colombia fans were dreading was finally confirmed in early June when it was announced that he would not be fit enough to take his place in their final 23-man squad.

For Pekerman, it is an undoubted blow. Yet perhaps not all is lost.

Given the array of talent at their disposal outside of their 28-year-old striker, Colombia will still be hopeful of at least equalling their best performance at a World Cup, which saw them reach the last 16 in 1990 before being knocked out by a Cameroon side inspired by Roger Milla.

Pekerman can, after all, still call on the likes of James Rodriguez and Jackson Martinez, who shone for Monaco and Porto respectively in the season just gone.

Falcao, a team-mate of Rodriguez at Monaco, was central to Colombia's successful qualifying campaign, scoring nine goals.

In his absence, the goalscoring burden will likely fall on River Plate's Teofilo Gutierrez, who contributed six goals in qualification and is set to lead the line.

Colombia also boast a host of creative stars, with Inter's Fredy Guarin and Fiorentina's Juan Cuadrado more than capable of impressing together with the exciting Rodriguez, a player widely regarded as one of the brightest young talents in world football.

An open group, comprising three other teams never to have reached the quarter-finals of a World Cup, provides another positive for Pekerman.

Greece will provide the opposition when Colombia make their long-awaited return to the biggest stage in Belo Horizonte on June 14.

Further tests will then be provided by Ivory Coast and Japan, but Colombia are unlikely to be fearful of their group opponents.

In addition to carrying a notable attacking threat, they also demonstrated defensive solidity during qualifying, conceding just 13 goals in 16 matches.

If such sturdiness can be maintained during the World Cup, progression to the knockout stages - for only the second time - appears well within the nation's reach.

Even if Falcao will not be there to witness it.

Player Profile (James Rodriguez)Edit

Position: Attacking midfielder
Date of Birth: July 12, 1991
Club: Monaco
International Debut: v Bolivia (October 11, 2011)
World Cup Appearances: 0
World Cup Goals: 0

Colombia were unable to progress past the group stage when they last appeared at the FIFA World Cup in 1998.

However, their prospects for this tournament are significantly brighter, primarily due to players such as attacking midfielder James Rodriguez.

Since making his international debut in 2011, Rodriguez has gone from strength to strength, establishing himself as one of the brightest young talents in world football.

The 22-year-old will have the opportunity to display why he is rated so highly when he makes his World Cup bow for a nation hopeful of progressing to the latter rounds of the competition.

A dynamic playmaker with an eye for goal, Rodriguez has already enjoyed an impressive club career despite his tender years, winning multiple honours with Portuguese side Porto.

Rodriguez's worth was highlighted in May last year when he completed a €45million move to Ligue 1 outfit Monaco, who have greatly benefited from his creative presence in attacking areas.

Yet while Rodriguez is a well-known talent in club football, he has yet to truly announce himself on the international scene.

The Cucuta-born player will have the chance to do just that when Jose Pekerman's side compete in Brazil.

Colombia finished second to Argentina in the CONMEBOL qualification group, taking an impressive 30 points from 16 games.

And Rodriguez was a key factor in that effort, making 15 appearances and finding the net in wins over Ecuador, Chile and Peru as Colombia secured only their fifth appearance at the World Cup finals.

After displaying impressive form during qualifying, Rodriguez can expect to play a prominent role in a team set to include other creative talents such as Inter's Fredy Guarin and Juan Cuadrado of Fiorentina.

However, for all his obvious talent, Rodriguez may be able to operate under the radar at the World Cup to a certain degree, given a number of players with greater reputations will be at the centre of attention.

That could change if Colombia see off competition from Japan, Greece and Ivory Coast in Group C, thereby providing Rodriguez with the opportunity to showcase his skills in the knockout rounds.

Rodriguez shone at the 2011 Under-20 World Cup on home soil, scoring three goals in the tournament, and can take confidence from his performances in that event.

While he does not currently share the same profile as other South American superstars such as Neymar and Lionel Messi, many feel Rodriguez has the potential to achieve similar success and a strong showing in Brazil would only serve to enhance the confidence in his ability.

The youngster certainly has time on his side as he bids to fulfil high expectations, but will doubtless be keen to make an immediate impression as he enjoys his first taste of football's grandest showpiece.

Should he deliver anything like his best form, Rodriguez is unlikely to go unnoticed.


News SourcesEdit

Football Federation - http://www.fcf.com.co/

Official Twitter page https://twitter.com/FCFSeleccionCol

El Tiempo http://www.eltiempo.com/deportes

El Espectador http://www.elespectador.com/deportes