It’s the final round of the South-American World Cup qualifiers, and Colombia still have a chance to qualify for Qatar, but it is slight and los Cafeteros depend on results from other matches
Last Thursday, Colombia finally managed to score a goal again, after seven World Cup qualifiers and 685 minutes without finding the back of the net. The 3-0 victory over Bolivia kept their World Cup hopes alive, but the chances of making it are still small as Colombia depend on Paraguay getting a result in Peru.
In Barranquilla, it was Luis Díaz who broke the 685-minute streak without scoring a goal in the World Cup qualifiers. The Liverpool winger, undoubtedly Colombia’s best player at this moment, brought a sigh of relief to Colombia on Thursday, with the opening goal just before half-time. Colombia finally cruised to a 3-0 victory, with the away side not getting a single chance.
Colombia – Venezuela, neighbourly rivalry
Colombia finally scored and never really had problems in Barranquilla. Venezuela, however, seem a tougher nut to crack than Bolivia. The neighbouring country have never qualified for a World Cup and is one of the weakest teams in South America, but Colombia have historically struggled against Venezuela and with Colombia’s successful former coach José Pékerman now in charge of the Venezuelan national team, los Cafeteros won’t expect an easy match here.
The expectations are that manager Reinaldo Rueda will field a similar starting line up as the one we saw against Bolivia. Whether we will see Wilmar Barrios in the starting line up again is still a question mark. The holding midfielder plays in Russia at Zenith St Petersburg and didn’t feature against Bolivia, but is normally one of the first ones to appear on the match form.
James Rodríguez is far from the level he showed in his best days, but is still the creative brain of this Colombia, so he is expected to start again. Juan Fernando Quintero, who is second in line on the number ten position, picked up a knock and is another question mark for this game. Colombia’s hopes, however, are mostly pinned on a combination Luis Diaz’s genius and Paraguay.
Maths of Colombia making the World Cup
Even if Colombia win this game against Venezuela, they still need a hand from Paraguay. Colombia are sixth in the group and trail number five Peru by one point. Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador and Uruguay have already grabbed a direct spot for the World Cup, but the fifth in the group will get another chance in a play-off against the number five from Asia, with Australia being the most likely candidate to take that spot.
If Colombia beat Venezuela this Tuesday, they still need to overtake Peru and that can only happen if Peru don’t beat Paraguay in Lima at the same time. Even a draw in Venezuela could be enough, but only if Paraguay beat Peru and on top of that without Chile, currently sitting in seventh place with one fewer point than Colombia, winning at home to Uruguay.
Venezuela vs Colombia, March 29th at 6:30 in Ciudad Guayana, Venezuela.