How have Colombia’s World Cup heroes fared since Brazil finals?
Colombia (25/1 to win Russia 2018) were another surprise package from the host continent to enthral at the World Cup, as their exuberance, panache and impressive dance routines briefly lit up Brazil.
Argentine coach Jose Pekerman made history, and helped heal some national wounds, by leading the Coffee Growers to their first World Cup quarter-final clash. Their journey may have ended against the Samba Boys, but Colombia’s stars certainly left a lasting impression.
Here, Coral writers assess how the South American side’s leading men have progressed, or regressed, at club level since becoming national heroes.
Fiorentina wideman Cuadrado was widely expected to move on from the Stadio Artemio Franchi this summer, but has so far remained with the Tuscan team, despite reported interest from Barcelona and Manchester United.
Cuadrado was rampant down the right for Colombia in Brazil, linking up superbly with partner in crime James Rodriguez, providing four assists and netting once.
His sparkle and verve has continued to entertain the Viola faithful, even amid transfer speculation, with the 25-year-old shaking off a niggle to smash home the Serie A side’s sensational second against rivals Inter Milan last time out.
That scintillating long-range strike was Cuadrado’s second goal of the season, and will have only strengthened rumoured contract negotiations. His fine from will no doubt have also kept him on the radar of potential suitors, so keep your eyes peeled for a Premier League appearance in the near future.
Arsenal snapped up Colombia’s keeper from Nice this summer for a rumoured bargain fee of £3m. However, Ospina has so far had to bide his time, waiting for a chance to displace the Gunners’ occasionally suspect stopper Wojciech Szczesny.
The 26-year-old eventually endured a difficult debut, conceding Nathaniel Clyne’s super strike as Arsenal lost a Capital One clash against Southampton, 2-1. The football fates stepped in to give Ospina another opportunity to impress, though, after Szczesny brought down Besiktas forward Burak Yilmaz in the box during a Champions League encounter.
After the Pole in goal received a red card, Ospina was thrown into the deep end for his Gunners European bow. Despite coming off second best to Yilmaz’s spot-kick, Colombia’s number one pulled off a string of important saves to deny Wesley Sneijder, but is now sat on the sidelines once again in the league.
Golden Boot winner Rodriguez was flavour of the month in Brazil, putting in a series of stunning performances. The 23-year-old supplied two assists for his teammates and hit home a remarkable six times in five appearances.
Despite his tournament being cut short, many felt that the top scorer should also have bagged the Golden Ball, but the former Porto and Monaco menace’s prize was instead a move to Real Madrid.
Los Blancos swooped for the Colombia superstar, who had shown bottle to step up for his nation in the absence of Radamel Falcao. Angel Di Maria was discarded to make way for Rodriguez, but the attacker has taken a while to gel with his new teammates.
A subtle tweak to Carlo Ancelotti’s system has since seen Rodriguez come on leaps and bounds, providing assists and playing more of supporting role to the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, rather than enjoying the limelight himself. With Real’s ruthless transfer policy, who knows how long the superstar’s stay at the Bernabeu will last, though.