Colombia v Uruguay: Expert v Expert Preview


Two South American nations go head to head in the Maracana hoping to reach the World Cup quarter-finals. Our experts Tim Vickery  and Juan Arango  preview the clash.

TEAM NEWS

Juan Arango on Colombia: Colombia's story so far in Brazil has been one of records. They made history by winning their group with a 100% record for the first time in a World Cup. James Rodríguez became the country's all-time leading scorer in World Cups with three goals. Meanwhile, veteran keeper Faryd Mondragón became the oldest player to play in a World Cup match. All being well it'll be a similar line-up again, with Carlos Bacca returning to action at the Estadio Maracanã. 

Tim Vickery on Uruguay: The big news, of course, is that Luis Suarez will not be present, meaning that Edinson Cavani will push up, almost certainly in a lone striker role, where Uruguay will hope to isolate him against Mario Yepes, Colombia’s 38 year old captain. Gaston Ramirez, who did well off the bench against Italy, could come into the team to act as his supply line, hitting long left-footed passes from deep, though Diego Forlan is another option. The pace of striker Abel Hernandez could be an interesting option in the second half. Uruguay have the versatility to switch from a back three to four without changing personnel. Against Italy’s strike duo of Mario Balotelli and Ciro Immobile, the back three worked well. With Colombia more likely to field Gutierrez as the lone out and out striker, a back four might make more sense this time.

FORM

Juan Arango: Colombia are fresh off their 4-1 win against Japan;  the most amount of goals they've scored in a World Cup match ever.  What has been most telling is that in the first two matches, they were out-possessed but were still able to generate more opportunities than their opposition. Against Japan, they were able to show a different face as they held the ball better and were still capable of making differences on the attack especially out wide.  

Tim Vickery: In their last two games Uruguay had to chase a victory. Now the tone changes. This time they will be happy while scores are level, and can enjoy the fact that Colombia will feel the responsibility of carrying the game. They will also enjoy a temperature in Rio at 5pm which will be much milder than the 1pm kick off in Natal. Playing in the stadium where Uruguay won the 1950 World Cup will have an inspirational effect and the wagons are being circled in reaction to what the Uruguayans see as the harsh punishment meted out to Suarez. Uruguay probably would not have qualified without a vital win a year ago away to Venezuela, a result achieved without the suspended Suarez. Now, against Venezuela’s neighbours, they will attempt to dig deep once more. Perhaps the most important question concerns Colombia; can they cope with the euphoria generated by their impressive displays in the group phase? It has been a historic problem of Colombian football and, if they are found mentally wanting, Uruguay will take advantage.

 KEY MAN

Juan Arango: High-flying Fiorentina man Juan Cuadrado could be that difference maker for Colombia against Uruguay. He is a vital cog offensively especially if he is given the space on the outside. Cuadrado could be the big difference when having to face Álvaro Pereira down the right and his runs at the defence will make Colombia such a dangerous proposition in the channels.  

Tim Vickery: Little central midfielder Egidio Arevalo Rios is the soul of the side. He is nothing to look at but plays within his limitations, runs and chases, snaps into his tackles and seeks to boss the space in front of the defence. His battle with James Rodriguez, one of the players of the tournament so far, will be central to the outcome of the game.

WHAT THE MANAGER SAYS

Colombia coach Jose Pekerman: “All the circumstances that have gone on renew the hopes of the different teams. Uruguay will be a great test for us." 

Uruguay's Oscar Washington Tabarez: “Uruguayan players never stop possessing that passion that they had as kids or as supporters,” said Oscar Washington Tabarez, rallying the troops for another mighty effort. On the Suarez case, he declared that “this is a World Cup of football, not of cheap morality. There are some people hiding behind a tree hoping that they can catch him out with some little thing.”

BEST BET

Juan Arango: If Cuardado is on, expect there to be space for James Rodríguez to operate between the lines. This is another match in which Rodriguez could be a major factor for the Colombians. He's shown to be a man for the big occasion and I like his odds of scoring anytime at are pretty favorable at 3.80

Tim Vickery: A yellow card for Martin Caceres 6.00 He picked up three in 10 games in qualifying and this could be the type of match where the cards fly. Egidio Arevalo Rios 5.00 might not be a bad bet either, especially as he will be trying to take care of James Rodriguez.

SCORE PREDICTION

Juan Arango: Expect the Colombians to overcome the Charrúa mystique and advance to quarters.  Colombia 2-0 Uruguay at 9.00

Tim Vickery: Colombia 2 - 1 Uruguay at 9.50 – the World Cup deserves to see more of James Rodriguez.