Who are the teams of the tournament so far? Holland, certainly. France, maybe. Mexico or Costa Rica, perhaps. But with nine points out of nine in the group stages, Colombia definitely have a shout. Their powerful, pacy, sexy football really ought to be too much for the Uruguayans. A delicious quarter-final, again versus South American opposition, awaits them.
The star of the side is James Rodriguez, the 22-year-old Monaco midfielder who was previously stuck out on the left wing for his country to accommodate striker Radamel Falcao. With Colombia’s most famous player injured, Rodriguez has moved into the hole and played superbly, dropping deep to build attacks when necessary or getting forward to score goals himself. His jink, shimmy and chip against Japan is one of the competition’s finest goals so far.
Rodriguez will seek to spray balls into the channels behind the Uruguayan full-backs, particularly looking for the exciting and very quick Juan Cuadrado, of Fiorentina, on the right. He can be virtually unplayable.
Uruguay will have to rely on their organisation, stubborn determination and aggression. Will they acquire a galvanising siege mentality in the absence of their talisman and biggest attacking threat Luis Suarez, or will they just be toothless?