Tipped as Group C winners, Colombia are a team brimming with talent - but their hopes may rest on the fitness of striker Falcao.
With the World Cup obviously in South America this season, Colombia are fancied to be dark horses, and they stormed through qualifying to make it to Brazil. There are high hopes for Colombia this summer, but what can we expect to see from them? Here is your in-depth preview to their chances this summer...
Having blitzed through qualifying in second place, Colombia are many people's tip to be a dark horse. With a number of talented played plying their trade in Europe, there are some familiar faces in Jose Pekerman's side, and none more so than star striker Falcao – but if he fails to recover from a knee injury then they won't trouble the later rounds.
Whilst Colombia can be a free-flowing, attacking side, their defence also impressed in qualifying by allowing just 13 goals. The absence of Falcao would certainly be a blow, but with the likes of Adrian Ramos, Luis Muriel, Teofilo Gutierrez and Carlos Bacca also in contention, Pekerman isn't short of options up top if El Tigre does miss out and they should make it to the knockout stages – where they could meet England.
Colombia's abundance of attacking players is a huge boost to Pekerman. The with James Rodriguez, Juan Cuadrado, Jackson Martinez and of course Falcao, Colombia have a number of stars who can score goals and create chances. With so many strikers in contention too, it seems that Pekerman will be able to call upon plenty of different options in attack, which makes them so dangerous.
Despite the aforementioned defence that was most impressive during qualifying, Colombia still have concerns back there. The ageing partnership of Luis Perea and Mario Yepes in the heart of the back line could be exposed by better opposition, whilst there is little depth behind them in case of injuries – they just have to hope that they can continue their qualifying form into the tournament.
Falcao – if healthy – is one of the top strikers in world football. The Monaco hitman has scored over 150 goals since the start of the 2009 season, and with ten goals in his last 16 games for Colombia, he's certainly the main attraction in the Colombia team. Yet with concerns over a knee injury sustained in January, the key man could well be his club team mate James Rodriguez, who possesses the technical ability to unlock any defence, or speedster Juan Cuadrado on the opposite flank, whose pace will cause problems to opposing full backs.
One to Watch
Juan Fernando Quintero starred at the Under-20 World Cup and subsequently became a Manchester United target back in 2013, but moved to Porto last summer. With a superb left foot and devestating ability from set pieces and long range shots, Quintero could make a name for himself this summer if given the chance. River Plate defender Eder Alvarez Balanta has been starring in Argentina and is highly rated at just 21, but this tournament could come too soon for him to make an impact.
If Falcao is fully fit, then Colombia could trouble the later rounds of the tournament but given that they will almost certainly run in to either Uruguay, Italy or England in the first knockout round, his potential absence could severely dent their chances against top opposition. The mixture of flair and tenacity throughout the team will make them a threat to any side in the tournament, but they will need contributions from other strikers even if Falcao makes it.