Colombia will play neighbors Venezuela in the Brazil 2014 World Cup qualifier Friday without Radamel Falcao Garcia. The Atletico Madrid forward got injured during Wednesday’s training session.
According to Colombia’s medical assistant, Falcao “kicked a ball with the left foot and strained his right leg.”
Colombia — now without their star forward — will face a Venezuela that is still on a high following their hard-fought and historic home victory over Argentina in October.
Soccer there has long been in the shadow of baseball but the national side has been making steady strides over the last few years and their appearance in the semi-finals of the recent Copa America was no fluke.
Their coach, Cesar Farias, seems to have a healthy balance of belief and drive and this has clearly been instilled into his players who are competing with their more vaunted rivals on an equal footing for the first time in their history. The Venezuelan team has a nice balance to it and is a very well-structured side with confidence in the tactics of the coach.
They have historically raised their game when facing their nearest neighbors and they will no doubt offer an extremely obdurate opponent on Friday. For this reason it came as somewhat of a surprise that Alvarez chose not to include the guile of Giovanni Moreno in his squad for these games.
The lanky playmaker returned last month from a lengthy injury lay off and is still searching for his best form but he is certainly a player capable of creating an opening in tight games and could have been a useful option on the bench.
Right back Camilo Zuñiga will also be missing against Venezuela due to the imminent birth of his child with Alvarez needing to choose between a more offensive replacement ( Juan Guillermo Cuadrado) or the safer option of playing Luis Amaranto Perea there. Apart from that enforced change, Super Mario Yepes should slot back in at center back while it seems likely the manager might opt for home town hero Teo Gutierrez and Jackson Martinez in the frontline.
Between the pair of them and the exciting talent of James Rodriguez the national side should have enough to claim the three points although patience might be necessary for both players and fans alike on Friday night.
Whilst Alvarez and his players have spent the week with only their clash against Los Vino Tinto on their mind, the media and supporters will be having trouble focusing their minds away from the glamorous tie with Argentina next Tuesday.