Colombia vs Venezuela | Sunday 14 June | Estadio El Teniente | 21:00
Colombia will battle Venezuela on Sunday night in what looks to be an entertaining encounter as both sides thrive on free-flowing attacking football.
To Win (90mins)
Colombia showed in the 2014 World Cup that they are not just a delightful team to watch, but a dangerous one with a tremendous offence that can make anyone pay when at their best. There aren’t many other teams that has the free-wheeling attacking potential that Los Cafeteros possesses and Venezuela will struggle to stop their deadly attack from running havoc. Colombia have been in fine form winning their last seven matches on the bounce, beating the likes of El Salvador, USA and Slovenia on the way. The squad features a potent attack including Real Madrid star James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao, who is looking to redeem himself after a disappointing season in the Premier League with Manchester United. Falcao has netted five goals in his last five outings in Colombian colours and will be looking to add to his tally against Venezuela. Striker Carlos Bacca who scored 28 goals for Sevilla last season will also join Falcao and Rodriguez in Los Cafeteros ammo. Rodriguez is the key man in the midfield that runs the show for Colombia and capable of scoring goals as well as creating them. Juan Cuadrado offers pace down the right whilst both Carlos Sanchez and Edwin Valencia offer steel in the middle. Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina got his chance in the Premier League after the turn of the year and his fine form should give him confidence going into the Copa America.
Venezuela – where football has been traditionally less popular than baseball – were seen as easy meat by the other South American teams and were often on the wrong end of some embarrassingly lopsided scorelines. They have made huge strides in the last ten years, however, and enjoyed their best-ever performance at the last Copa America tournament when they reached the semi-finals, although signs of stagnation have now begun to set in. Venezuela have been poor in the lead up to this tournament having lost six of their nine friendly matches played with just three wins against Honduras (beating them twice) and Jamaica. Venezuela play a fast and slick passing game at their best but also suffer from defensive naivety and imprecision in front of goal. They have had some eye-catching results, such as beating Argentina during the last World Cup qualifiers. But they remain under-achievers in an illustrious neighbourhood. La Vinotinto will rely on their powerful striker Salomon Rondon to rattle Colombia’s defence and score the goals that win the game. Unfortunately, he's a little inconsistent at times but netted thirteen goals as Zenit St. Petersburg lifted the Russian title this year and thrived when given good service.
VERDICT: Colombia 7/20
This Colombian side is arguably the best of all time, considering their recent World Cup exploits. Jose Pekerman has done an outstanding job for Los Cafeteros and his side will be confident of claiming maximum points in their opening game. Colombia should make easy pickings of their opponents.