After somehow succeeding past the group of death, it was not going to be easy for Colombia to go on to beating England in the Round of 16, especially without their key player in James Rodriguez. Whether the side had beaten Gareth Southgate’s men or not, they would have been more than happy to have reached past the group stages as well as take the Three Lions all the way to penalties.
Colombia coach, Jose Pekerman, kept the starting XI more or less the same, with the side setup in a 4-3-2-1 system as captain Radamel Falcao led the line as the lone forward. Meanwhile, Juan Cuadrado and Juan Quintero started behind the Monaco forward, who went on to show their movement and pace from time to time but failed to most importantly be effective in the final third.
Just in front of the defence, defensive-midfield Wilmar Barrios started at the centre of midfield with the likes of Carlos Sanchez and Jefferson Lerma alongside him. Despite doing more than enough in their own half to keep the England attackers quiet and to take the close game to penalties, they did not give their all to help produce forward passes and clear cut-chances into the side’s best players.
In defence, Arsenal’s David Ospina carried on his duty as the national team’s goalkeeper whilst the defence consisted of Johan Mojica, Davinson Sanchez, Yerry Mina and Santiago Arias from left to right. The backline of Colombia were aggressive and ruthless from start till end, which became one of the main reasons to why England sat deep and decided to defend their lead in the second half.
Throughout the chaotic and historical night in Moscow, England had the more positive and attacking approach on and off the ball whilst Colombia’s aim was to nullify the opposition on an unconvincing level the led them to making several inappropriate and badly chosen fouls. The good news for Pekerman’s side is that the intentional fouls were actually gone without any punishment and the team were lucky to still have 11 players on the pitch from the first minute of the game till the end.
10 minutes into the second half, England received a penalty from the referee as he caught Carlos Sanchez pushing Harry Kane around in the penalty box as the side’s corner was delivered in by Kieran Trippier. The Tottenham Hotspur hitman stepped up to take the penalty and smashed it down the middle, as David Ospina misjudged the timing of the ball and dived completely the wrong way.
The remainder of the match was purely unconvincing from England, however, Colombia took their game up a notch as Pekerman went all out by bringing on the likes of Carlos Bacca and Luis Muriel from the bench. This positive change allowed the side to have more possession in England’s half as well as allowed the team to have some players to target in the box through crosses and passes.
During the final moments of added time at the end of the game, Juan Cuadrado’s cross from the corner was perfectly met by the head of Yerry Mina, which had the ideal pace and power that even Kieran Trippier could not prevent it from going past him and into the back of the net. Once it went in, the English supporters were totally shell shocked as the Colombian fans sang loud and proud.
Extra time was not much to be mentioned about as both sides chose to play it all safe and only take risks from potential set-pieces and dangerous areas. Other than that, the 30 minutes of extra time quick flew by and the nerve-wrecking time had come where the chosen players had to step up and take part in the penalty duties.
The night ended in disappointment and frustration for Colombia as a whole nation as they were eliminated by England, who were actually better on the night and were here to play football and not an aggressive sport. Jose Pekerman’s men will certainly regret a number of key moments in the game, where they chose to mentally and physically drain the opposition instead of attacking with the intention of winning the game.
Overall, Colombia should seriously be happy with how far they came in the 2018 World Cup, and they should be excited and thrilled with the number of talented players they have within the national team. All they need to do now is, find a manager with the perfect philosophy and style of play that will replace Jose Pekerman.
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