World Cup 2014 last 16 preview: Colombia v Uruguay
Many had a slight suspicion that Luis Suarez’s sins would come back to haunt him. Even Coral mentioned that karma might come back to bite him in at this World Cup, following his deliberate handball against Ghana four years ago.
His punishment; Suarez misses the rest of the tournament in Brazil for Urugauy. Oscar Tabarez’s side were dysfunctional without him against Costa Rica, when they were taken apart. They are 3/1 to beat Colombia in 90 minutes in the last 16.
For Colombia, who are 21/20 to win in 90 minutes, James Rodriguez has come to life at this World Cup and is starting to show everyone just how capable he is. With three goals, he is one behind top scorers Thomas Muller, Neymar, and Lionel Messi, and his strike against Japan mirrored skills of the latter.
The Monaco attacking midfielder is 9/2 to notch the opener, and is more than capable of having a huge impact on this game. Star striker Radamel Falcao’s absence due to injury has been eased by his teammate at club level, and even Porto forward Jackson Martinez who hit two against Japan. At 5/1 to score the game’s first goal, it could be good value, though much depends on whether he is preferred to Teofilo Gutierrez or Adrian Ramos, who also featured in the last match.
Martinez, though, wants his country to build on the job that they have already done: “We know we have done some great work, but we need to keep going,” the forward said.
Tabarez must decide how he replaces Suarez. The favourite is Diego Forlan who deputised against Costa Rica, though, unlike four years ago, looked largely ineffective. He is 15/8 to net at anytime. Palermo’s Abel Hernandez could also be called upon, and he is 13/2 score first.
Although Colombia’s defence has barely been tested so far, undoubtedly their fellow South Americans’ will ask more probing questions, even without their talisman. Edinson Cavani struck the only goal in their first Group D match, neatly dispatching a penalty, though his lofted assist for Suarez against England was delightful. To strike the initial goal, he is 13/2.
Los Cafeteros coach Jose Pekerman is confident and optimistic about his players, and has spoken in glowing terms this week about Rodriguez, and the effect that Falcao’s injury has had on the rest of the team:
“Something really important has taken place,” Pekerman said. “I think everyone who knows football knows Falcao. He is one of the reasons we are playing in this World Cup.
“But the players have reacted in a positive way. For me, as a coach, this proves that my players have a strong character because they have played very well and shown wonderful performances.”
Defender Mario Yepes spoke before the decision was made on Suarez, and insisted that he and the rest of his teammates weren’t worried whether or not the striker would be playing.
“We are thinking only of our work,” Yepes said. “It is going to be a difficult match, very difficult, because we have had the opportunity of watching Uruguay’s matches during the World Cup, and we have seen it is a difficult team [to play].”
Colombia are 20/1 to repeat Costa Rica’s scoreline against Uruguay and record a 3-1 victory in 90 minutes.