Ahead of Friday's quarter-final clash with Colombia, Brazil’s Fernandinho has warned his side of the danger posed by the opposition’s star man James Rodriguez.
With five goals in four games, Rodriguez has been the World Cup’s standout performer thus far and Fernandinho says he first recognised the 22-year-old was going to be special when the two came up against each other in a UEFA Champions League match between Shakhtar Donetsk and FC Porto in September 2011.
‘If I am not mistaken it was only James Rodriguez’s first season in Europe. He was not in the starting lineup for his team,’ the Manchester City midfielder said. ‘But he entered during the match and even from then he was showing his skills.
‘He has very good control of the ball and takes very good shots. At this World Cup he is showing everybody that the money AS Monaco spent on him from Porto was very worth it.’
His performances inviting rumours of interest from Real Madrid, Rodriguez has ensured the absence of striker Falcao has not been as significant for Colombia as anticipated, inspiring the side on their way to topping Group C with three wins, while dispatching Uruguay with relative ease in the last 16.
The Monaco playmaker is not the only positive in the lineup, however, with the impressive form of winger Juan Cuadrado, defensive midfielder Carlos Sanchez and goalkeeper David Ospina leading some to wonder whether Jose Pekerman’s outfit could be set to cause an upset over the host nation.
Brazil have been less than convincing so far, forcing Luiz Felipe Scolari to bring Fernandinho into the starting XI in place of the lacklustre Paulinho for the Chile game, but the side still needed penalties to overcome their South American rivals, as others such as Fred and Hulk continue to disappoint.
With an expectant home crowd piling the pressure on the Selecao, one wouldn’t be surprised if Rodriguez is the man to break their hearts and stop the quest for a sixth World Cup title in its tracks.