Juventus winger, Serie A midfielders instrumental in Colombia and Switzerland’s decent World Cup run


Few other Italian league protagonists were eliminated from the World Cup in the round of 16. Among those, the most recognizable one is Juan Cuadrado, who had a satisfying campaign in Russia. The winger is a mainstay in Colombia’s line-up and delivered with a pair of solid performances.

He was a victim of the circumstances against Japan, but then was very spry in the two wins over Poland and Senegal, which granted Los Cafeteros the qualification to the second stage. He punished his teammate Wojciech Szczesny keeping his aplomb in a one-on-one after a quick solo counter-attack. However, he was a little all over the place in the final game against England: due to the injury to James Rodriguez, he was fielded as second-striker and wandered a lot around the pitch looking for the right spots. He improved when other centre-forwards were inserted and returned to the right flank.

Switzerland was the latest victim of Sweden’s stifling tactics and managed to attack consistently only in the final portion of the game, but could not find the target. The Helvetians featured two Serie A veterans such as Valon Behrami, in the usual holding position, and Blerin Dzemaili as no.10. The Udinese midfielder did a ton of dirty work and contributed greatly to their sturdiness, while the Bologna player chipped in offensively with a nice goal against Costa Rica, while his contribution in the other matches was limited to few shots from distance. He has not been as dynamic as he used to be after returning from Canada. Milan’s Ricardo Rodriguez started all four fixtures and was passable but not flashy. Atalanta’s Remo Freuler did not get minutes and perhaps he should have after a very good season.

Speaking of the Bergamaschi, the striker Andreas Cornelius got two starts and a stint off the bench with Denmark. He was unable to have an impact and his lack of mobility was often on display. The Dynamite was one of the few squads that adopted the sit back-and-counter gambit, which does not suit the skills of the Nerazzurri centre-forwards, who is more at ease jostling for position in the box with the defenders rather than taking them on the open field.

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