Last month, Colombia kept Brazil on a draw in Barranquilla and became the first country in this South American World Cup qualification to take points away from the Seleção. What will Brazil vs Colombia have in store this time?
This Thursday, Colombia will face Brazil in São Paulo. With 31 points in 11 matches, the home side has pretty much already qualified for the World Cup in Qatar. But Colombia has still got it all to play for. The team with manager Reinaldo Rueda in charge is sitting in fourth place. Importantly, Colombia is only one point ahead of Uruguay, who could knock them out of the spot that grants them direct qualification.
It remains to be seen whether Colombia will be able to pull off a stunt in São Paulo. But it won’t be easy for the cafeteros as several of their main players are out for this international window. Defence has been Colombia’s forte in the last few matches – Los Cafeteros didn’t concede a single goal in the three previous matches. However, both Yerry Mina and Carlos Cuesta, who formed the centre of defence in those games, will have to miss this match due to injury. Their normal replacement Oscar Murillo suffers the same fate and is absent due to injury.
Against Brazil, it seems Rueda will start with Davinson Sánchez, who only lost his spot in the starting line up to Cuesta in October and possibly Jhon Janer Lucumí or William Tesillo next to him.
Apart from the three centre backs, the other key players who’ll be missing out are Mateus Uribe and Radamel Falcao. Colombia’s all-time top goalscorer may be reaching the end of his career, but he shows every week at his new club Rayo Vallecano that he hasn’t forgotten how to score. Last weekend, against Real Madrid, bad luck struck for the 35-year-old striker, he came on, scored and got injured, all in 12 minutes.
Colombia could do with Falcao’s goals, although he failed to score in his last four matches with the national team. Lack of scoring is an issue for Colombia – all three of its World Cup qualifiers in October finished 0-0, and the lack of goals could become problematic. However, James Rodríguez might be able to help out. The number 10 had been left out of the Copa América and the World Cup qualifiers due to a lack of fitness. But he’s found a new club with Al Rayyan and despite only having featured four times in Qatar, he received the nod from Rueda to return to the national team.
The goals seem to have to come from Miguel Borja this game. He returns to the squad after missing the last matches because of an injury. Another option up front is Duván Zapata, who has been in great form for Atalanta Bergamo in both league and Champions League matches. But he crumbles when playing for the national team. Zapata failed to score in his last 14 appearances, since scoring the opener in the first qualifying match vs Venezuela last year.
In contrast, Brazil doesn’t face any such injury problems – only Roberto Firmino and Lucas Verrísimo will be out injured. But Brazil manager Tite can count on the rest of his star players, mostly featuring at the best clubs in Europe, for this match.
The kick-off for Brazil vs Colombia is Thursday the 11th of November at 7:30pm