By Marcus Louison
Saturday June 28th
Colombia vs Uruguay – Kickoff 16:00 EST
Colombia have the luxury of a fully fit and rested squad, as Head Coach Jose Pekerman rested 8 of his players for the final match vs Japan. Pekerman has one of those selection problems that coaches love, such was the nature of some of the fringe players in that final game romp. It will be interesting to see who he goes with up front. Will he continue to keep faith with the misfiring Teofilo Gutierrez, or will he choose to insert Porto hot-shot Jackson Martinez after his two goals vs Japan and robust leading of the line. Carlos Bacca is also an option after recovering from a niggling thigh problem.
It will be very interesting to see how Uruguay start this match. Their camp must be rattled after talismanic striker Luis Suarez was sent home in disgrace. Captain Diego Lugano was quick to jump to the defense of his compatriot, as was head coach Oscar Tabarez, who has quit his roles on two FIFA committees after claims of Suarez being made a “scapegoat”. Tabarez will have to steady the ship, and steady it quickly, because Colombia aren’t messing around. A personnel choice has to be made upfront in the absence of Suarez. Will he revert to 2010 Golden Ball winner Diego Forlan, or choose to use Nicolas Lodeiro in little pockets just off Edinson Cavani in a traditional “hole” role. We’ll see..
There is likely to be an engrossing clash of styles in Rio De Janeiro, as the compact, more attack-minded Colombia set to impose themselves on their defensive, physically imposing neighbors from South of the continent. Individual battles will be key, as they often are, and Martin Caceres and Diego Godin better be on their games to handle two of the tournament’s stand-out performers so far, Juan Cuadrado and box-of-tricks James Rodriguez. Juan Quintero is fast, tricky, and seemingly determined to leave his mark on this World Cup. He has already made headlines, but he wants his name up in lights. Is it time for “Napoli-style” Edinson Cavani to come to the party? He’s been off his best, but he’s capable of world class performances. He, like Uruguay, have been a bit “Jekyll and Hyde “of late, which ones will show up in Rio? All the ingredients are there for a fascinating contest. Tune in..