Colombia and Uruguay will feature in an All-South American clash in the Round of 16 of the FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil. The match will be played at the iconic Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday, June 28.
While Colombia have won each of their three group matches to ensure qualification to this stage of the tournament, Uruguay had to qualify the hard way, after suffering a somewhat unexpected defeat to Costa Rica in their opener. They have since beaten former world champions England and Italy in order to seal a berth at the first knock-out round of football’s showpiece event.
Colombia, who are ranked eighth by FIFA in their Coca-Cola world rankings, came into this tournament without the injured Radamel Falcao, who was regarded as their best striker before he suffered a terrible knee injury at the turn of the year.
While rivals were hoping that the loss of such a vital player would diffuse the threat that they possess in attack, the likes of James Rodriguez and Jackson Martinez have ensured that their rivals feel the pain as they have plundered in the goals.
Rodriguez, with three goals and two assists to his name in the world cup already, is one of the favourites to open the scoring for Colombia with Paddy Power offering an amazing 9/1 on the possibility. Martinez is 11/2 (BetVictor) to score the first goal in the game.
The seventh-ranked Uruguay had come into the World Cup with high hopes but their star striker Luis Suarez had to undergo a knee operation a fortnight before the big tournament. Uruguay lost 3-1 to Costa Rica with the striker on the bench in the opener as the Costa Ricans simply outplayed the Sky Blues.
Such a devastating result meant that Oscar Tabarez had no other option but field Suarez against England and the move paid rich dividends.
Just as football lovers started to think that this could be Suarez’s tournament, the man himself has proved them wrong as he faces a mighty ban after placing a crunching bite on the shoulder of Italian defender Georgio Chiellini in Uruguay’s 1-0 win over the Azzuris.
Uruguay are now looking at a match against Colombia without their talismanic striker in the team after his most recent outburst, with FIFA having slapped a nine-match international ban to go with four months of no football even at club level. What remains to be seen if he’s allowed to play this game, now that he has appealed against the ban.
This was the third time that Suarez has bitten an opponent on the football pitch after his trysts at Ajax and then at Liverpool the season before last. The Liverpool striker has already served a combined ban of seventeen matches for similar offences and it is quite clear that he has not learnt from his mistakes.
With team morale at an all-time low even after knocking Italy out in the group stage, the burden of scoring goals for the Sky Blues has now fallen squarely on the shoulders of PSG striker Edinson Cavani, who has so far scored a solitary goal in the tournament. Cavani is the favourite to open the scoring for Uruguay with odds of 7/1 (bet365) on his head.
Colombia on the other hand will be greatly encouraged by the fact that the man who could have been the biggest threat in their quest for qualification to the quarter-finals is now definitely out of the fixture. With a defence that has only let in 2 goals in the tournament so far, and a steely midfield that has created plenty of chances, the Colombians will be extremely confident of their chances.
Suarez’s absence and the general cascading effect his ban would have had on Uruguay means I will be going with Colombia to win this game.
Colombia to win by 1 (3/1 at Ladbrokes) or 2 goals (5/1 at Ladbrokes)
Both halves under 1.5 goals: 17/16 (BetBright)