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The boy from Bolivia shows Colombia the way

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Tim Vickery | 10:35 UK time, Monday, 13 October 2008

At the halfway stage in South America's World Cup qualifiers the top scorer is Joaquin Botero of Bolivia.

He had plenty to celebrate on Saturday - he scored twice to help his side to a 3-0 win over Peru and in the process became Bolivia's all-time leading marksman and the first man on the continent to score five goals in the current campaign.

This last achievement is all the more remarkable given that Botero was not even selected for the first few matches. But in three starts plus 25 minutes off the bench he has one more goal to his name than the entire Colombia team have managed in nine games.

Joaquin Botero, Bolivia

Goals have been a huge problem for Colombia in recent times. But until last month's rounds they could at least boast about being the only unbeaten side in the field. Not any more.

They have now suffered three straight defeats, gone four games without a goal and five without a win - and on Wednesday night they are away to Brazil. Down in seventh place in the table, they are on course to miss out on the World Cup for the third time running.

With the second biggest population on the continent, a strong football culture and a number of urban centres, Colombia should be doing better.

But the truth is that although they won the Copa America on home ground in 2001, they have so far proved unable to build on the progress made by the 80s/90s generation spearheaded by frizzy-haired midfielder Carlos Valderrama.

It is not for lack of trying. Colombian football was worried by the example of Peru - a national team that suddenly emerged in the late 60s, had a few years of prominence and then fell back.

The current Peruvian side, for example, are bottom of the qualification table.

It was, concluded the Colombians, a case of a spontaneous generation of players appearing and then not being replaced. This was not going to happen to them. They put resources into their youth sides. In 2003 they came third in the World Youth Cup. Two years later they were South American Under-20 champions.

Many of these players have since graduated to the senior side. But very few of them have fulfilled their promise. Some have suffered the consequences of a premature move to Europe. Others have found it hard to deal with wealth and fame.

There is also the question of the type of players being produced.

Former national team coach Hernan Dario Gomez recently complained that "the style of Colombian football has changed a lot, and it's not to my liking. It's a style that looks for tall players, with strength, speed, power and with little talent and ball skills".

"Our old style of possession football is criticised heavily here," he said. "People say you have to be more direct, get the ball forward quickly, you shouldn't pass the ball around so much - and because of this the joy and the talent have finished."

There is much in what he says, though Colombia are not totally without talent. What seems to be lacking is ideas or identity.

Take midfielder Freddy Guarin, now of Porto. He has some ability. But in Saturday's 1-0 defeat at home to Paraguay he was not successful in applying it. Time and time again he tried to make space for his trademark rocket right-foot shot.

It was easily blocked because there was no surprise, or because sufficient space had not been created.

"Forget the goal and look for a team-mate. Keep passing and in the end the goal will appear" - it was the way that Colombia played in the days of Valderrama, and it was beautiful and hypnotic to watch.

Perhaps part of the move away from that short passing style is a reaction to the failure (with tragic consequences for assassinated defender Andres Escobar) of Colombia to live up to their billing in the 1994 World Cup.

Colombia, World Cup 1998

Pele had included them among the favourites. They were carrying the hopes of a nation which at the time was tearing itself apart in an orgy of narco-violence. It was all too much for the team to cope with.

Their first-round elimination in USA '94 makes it easy to forget just how good that Colombia side really were. Going into the competition they had suffered one defeat in 34 games - a run which included an extraordinary 5-0 win away to Argentina.

It remains the only time Argentina have been beaten at home in World Cup qualification. Wednesday's opponents Brazil have still never lost a qualifier at home. Ending that run would be a wonderful way to kick-start Colombia's drive to South Africa. They haven't scored in four games, Brazil haven't conceded in four games. Maybe this time Freddy Guarin will stick one in from the half way line.

Comments on this article in the space below - other questions on South American football to, and I'll pick out a couple next week.

From last week's postbag:

How do you rate Christian Benitez? He is pumping in the goals for Santos and helped them win the Mexican Clasura in 2008 and he seems to be tagged as Ecuador's future talisman. He has drawn some interest from Spanish and Portuguese clubs.
Seth Brooks

An excellent player - a sinuous dribbler, two-footed and not bad in the air as well as he showed scoring the only goal against Chile on Sunday. It's a pity he overdid the celebrations and picked up a yellow card which rules him out of Wednesday's trip to Venezuela.
I believe his father, Ermen, was the first Ecuadorian to be transferred to Europe - he spent a year in the Spanish second division some 20 years ago. The son has the ability to go further.

The issue of booing has come up because of what happened to Ashley Cole playing for England this week. I understand that Brazil and their manager Dunga were booed off in home games playing Argentina and Bolivia recently. What do players and fans and managers think about booing in South America?
Lee Walsh

Brazilian crowds are notorious for turning against their own team. I remember the World Cup qualifier against Colombia in Sao Paulo eight years ago.
A newspaper had handed out little Brazilian flags, and in protest at the team's performance (they won with a goal from a corner in injury time) the fans were throwing these flags onto the pitch. Some people debated whether this constituted treason. No, wrote a highly respected veteran journalist - treason was the kind of football played today by the national team. It's not always easy representing the nation.
Some argue that nowadays the Brazil team gets booed because the fans see them as mercenaries who have gone to Europe for money. But in fact it has always gone on, even when they were all still based in Brazil. There's a saying that in order to be world champions Brazil first need to be booed by their own fans. If it's true then they have to be in the running to come out on top in South Africa.


  • Comment number 1.

    Very interesting blog once again. It is a mystery as to why Colombia are not more successful and do not produce better players.

    Just shows that there are so many factors as to why certain countries produce better players than others and that it isn't purely down to population and culture etc.

  • Comment number 2.

    Yet another brilliant article Tim!

    I am amazed by colombia to. They are absolutely football nuts.

    The generation in the early 90's was very good indeed. However...dare i say it......wasnt this the product of investment of drug money?

    Lara bonilla annound in the mid 80s that most fo the top sides in columbia were owned by drug traffickers who certainly had money to invest, see nacional winning the copa libertadores in 1989 i think it was. Do you think the influx or narco-dollars in the 80's produced this generation, or at least helped?

  • Comment number 3.

    Ah - Carlos Valderrama! What a legend he was, I remember being given his nickname during USA 94 due to my blonde mop-a-top, excellent memories!

    Do you have a bit more background information on this Columbian legend Tim? I was only 9 at the time and it seems he is more remembered for his hair these days.


  • Comment number 4.

    Nice blog Timbob Jimbob
    Colombia are terrible these days.
    Burkino Faso have more chance of getting to the World Cup.

  • Comment number 5.

    Another great blog.

    Helps make Monday that much easier.

  • Comment number 6.

    On a side note...

    Brazil beat Venezuela yesterday 4-0, and I found the second goal particularly interesting. Robinho's strike from 30 yards was not the kind of goal that you would normally associate with Brazil or, particularly, Robinho himself. A few weeks ago, Robinho, with the ball in that part of the field, would have opted to take on a few defenders before rolling the ball in.

    In fact, that strike looked more like a Premier League goal; which brings me to my point: it seems the style of the PL has got to him already, which is interesting since he hasn't been in England for long. To me, this is indicative of the general trend that Brazilian football is moving towards, especially under Dunga.

  • Comment number 7.

    I watched the Colombia match against Paraguay. The home side had an excellent defence and only only a stroke of genius from Salvador Cabañas prevented them having a clean sheet.
    The midfield including Porto's Freddy Guarín toiled tirelessly but the problem up front was the drought of goals.
    The absence of quality wide players meant that Colombia were confined to hopeful long range shots by a a resolute Paraguayan defence.
    The Colombians now have the worst scoring record in the qualification matches to date. With the next tie away to Brazil, it is unlikely that will change.
    However, there may be light at the end of the tunnel with the emergence of young talent such as 21-year-old Carlos Quintero who has returned to his home soilfrom a year in Russia.
    Let's hope he can lead Colombia through a successful second half of the qualifiers and put to bed finally the assumption that Valderama's team of almost twenty years ago was a flash in the pan in the annals of Colombian football.

  • Comment number 8.

    Carlos Valderamma, a true legend. I actually had a kick-about with the great man in the Summer of 95 or 96! My parents brought me on holiday to Florida and at the time Valderamma was playing in the MLS with the Tampa Bay Mutiny and my father brought me to watch them train. As the rest of the team were warming up and running laps, Valderamma was just doing keepy-ups on his own (he was obviously too good for the running drills)! But he started to pass me the ball and I would duly knock it back. This went on for a couple of minutes until the Manager (who I think was Dutch) made him stop. We then watched the rest of training which was a 5-a-side and Valderamma played for both teams. It was a joy to watch this man just find space (sometimes by staying stationary) and just thread balls around the field. Anyway Tim, I was just wondering what Brazilians make of my team Liverpool? We now have Lucas, Cavalieri and Aurelio in our ranks and have been linked with some other Brazilian youngsters and I was wondering if there is actually a large fan base or would Man Utd and Chelsea have more fans as they have been the more successful clubs since the so-called globalisation of the European game in the last 10-15 years?

  • Comment number 9.

    Another great blog entry. Very insightful. The likes of Mihir Bose could learn a lot from this instead of doleing out the same dated opinions everybody already has or knows of.

  • Comment number 10.


    I have no allegience to Manchester City, but I was interested in you opinion of the Ecuadorean youngster Felipe Caicedo.

    He hasn't featured very much for them, which suprised me as when he arrived he seemed to be held in quite high regard.

    Would it be of use to him to go out on loan to a team say at Championship level?

    Thanks in advance.

  • Comment number 11.

    Hi Mr Vickery. I've been reading your blog for a while now. Really Inspiring.

    Just wanted to know your opinions and Brazilians of the striker Dentinho. Apparently Arsenal are linked to him and I have heard great things about this guy who we were close to signing a year ago.

    Also I was wondering if you could add a link to my blog at the side.

  • Comment number 12.

    After seeing Adriano, Kaka and Robinho play so well against Venzuela do you think that Dunga will stick with Adriano and will Ronaldinho be called up again?

  • Comment number 13.

    Great article.

    This is probably well out of Tim's sphere of knowledge but I'd be grateful for any insight into why recent World Cup attendees Angola and Senegal have been dumped out of the African qualifiers at a humiliatingly early stage.

    And does the poor performance from South Africa in the qualifiers - which also double as those for the next African Nations championship - signpost what could be the poorest ever performance from a host nation?

    With the likes of Sudan, Malawi and Mozambique getting through at their expense, is the balance of footballing power in Africa shifting?

  • Comment number 14.

    Fantastic stuff again Tim.

    What are your views on Adriano returning to form? Will he pick up where he left off around 2005?

  • Comment number 15.

    Great column Tim.

    I live in Ecuador, and have done for about 4 years now. I love reading your column to get another foreigners opinion on South American footy, and I have to say that we share very similar opinions, although I don´t get nearly as much exposure to the Brazilian domestic league as you do, but I lie to fancy myself an expert on the Ecuadorean game.

    I went to the Ecuador-Chile game yesterday, where Ecuador put themselves back in the qualification race with a key win.

    Antonio Valencia was excellent untill he was sent off (perhaps a little harshly) and he is developing excellently at Wigan (good job Steve Bruce). Valencia always looked a boy amongst men, but not anymore, he´s starting to really boss games.

    Christian Benitez was excellent throughout, at times he looked like a working man´s Messi. He holds the ball close to his feet at pace and when defenders come in for the challenge he just dances past them. Throughout the match he dribbled past Chilean defenders with ease, on one play he danced past three of them at pace. I imagine he´ll be off to Europe sooner than later.

    My opinion on Felipe Caicedo is that he is suffering a lot due to his lack of playing time at Man City. To answer Sir Bobby Dangles question, yes he could definately use a loan spell. He is a big, strong player who is actually a decent dribbler for his size and has a strong shot. He scored for fun at all levels untill his move to City, I don´t think he was ready for the jump and he has stagnated. Although he scored a cracker vs. Bolivia he looks a young man very much in need of playing time and most importantly good coaching.

    Tim, would love if you did a peice on the Ecuadorean resurgence under Sixto Vizuete (I read your peice on him back when he was hired as boss). Although he doesn´t look, or sound a top manager, he has done a wonderful job and most importantly Ecuador is no longer relying on a foreign manager.

  • Comment number 16.

    Great article Tim! Had a mediocre monday, as per usual, as your blogs always give me a smile after school.
    Keep it up son (:

  • Comment number 17.

    You are the best bbc blogger by far

  • Comment number 18.

    I was about 10 years old when Colombia came into Argentina and just crushed the side. I recall the fans staying and giving Colombia a standing ovation and yelling at the Argentine side telling them now that is football. Even Maradona had to come out of retirement to help the side. I understand Colombia does not playing the fútbol criollo style but who knows what is wrong with them. It is funny since the country quote on quote cleaned up since the days of El Patrón Escobar and the Ochoa's but the team has fell from grace. As a Argentine I always get a bad feeling when the side plays them, maybe it is that haunting expierence from that day. They do not have the history of Uruguay and it's four stars(Two for the WC, and Two Gold Medals) but they have a massive population and it is a football country unlike a Venezula who is baseball hungry. I guess they are not pumping out talented players no more but they should be. Will they qualify for the WC, I hope so, I like the Colombian people and the country of Colombia and that country deserves more then it gets from its footballing side.

  • Comment number 19.

    Sr BatiBati9, I'm a big fan of the Colombian people as well - I think like most who've actually been there. You quickly find out that, for all the negative publicity and the problems, there is another side (or rather lots of other sides) to the place.

    In answer to the qestions about the drug money that was swerling around in the 80s and 90s - it clearly played a part, in that Colombian clubs were brining in top class players from all over the continent, so the domestic standard improved.

    But it can't explain either the talent or the ideas on the pitch. The key club side was Atletico Nacional of Medellin, who had a no-foreigners policy at the time. Under coach Maturana they worked that short passing style which, with the addition of Valderrama, did so well with the national team.

    Does anyone remember then running rings round Germany in the 1990 World Cup? A couple of years earlier was the game when in their own estimation they came of age - their 1988 visit to Wembley when they played wonderfully well and were good value for their 1-1 draw. Anyone remember that one?

  • Comment number 20.

    Yes Mr.Vickery, if more people went into Colombia they would know it is a great place to visit. People get worried about they might get kidnapped by FARC. But look any bad neighborhood you go into there is a chance something will happen, it can happen in Los Angeles, London, Medellín and etc. I do recall reading about Esobar putting his money into Atletico Nacional.

    I vaguely recall the 1990 World Cup because I was about 5 or 6 then. But my father always talked about what a side they were, how big and physical they were. They controled the ball very well but things fell apart in 94. It is similar to what happened to Argentina in 2002 WC. They sailed into the tourney and they were the favorites and they fell apart. I still shake my head till this day and say why didn't Bielsa play Crespo and Batistuta together.

    I think Colombia will need one player that can push this team to glory. If they get one talented player and put him around some good players Colombia can be a side that makes the WC. But it seems that Ecuador and Colombia have flip flopped. Ecuador at one time were a horrible team, then they became a pretty decent team.

  • Comment number 21.

    Slightly off topic but trying to answer a couple of the above questions.
    1. With regard to wether the PFL is rubbing off on the Brazillian players who play in it.
    Yesterday Venezuala surrendered after 2o mins when they were 3-0 down.Brazil have been under a lot of pressure in the papers here to actualy attack and for once yesterday they did.Those first 20 mins were a masterclass in football. Yes the second goal was spectacular but Kaka's opener was just class.Having watched many many league games here in the last year I can say that the players benefiting most from playing in the PFL and Europe are the defenders and goalkeepers both of whom are truly terrible in the domestic game here.I have lost count of goals scored from rebounds from the keeper..or even worse the defenders and keeper being out of position.I no longer watch the goal on the replays but I watch the keeper to see if he actualy moves!!

    As to how PFL teams are viewed here. I show as much Premier league football here in the bar as I can and while it attracts attention, the inability of Flamengo to string two winning games together is more talked about. I see some shirts around but mostly Man U and then only with Ronaldo's name on the back. Other than that Chelsea and Liverpool are the only ones I have seen.There may be more interest in the big cities ..Rio and Soa Paulo but here in the sticks its local football that rules.

  • Comment number 22.

    Ahh... Tim Vickery - a proper sports journalist.

    You put the rest of the team at the BBC to shame. Great blog. Fancy sending the others some tips?

    (Tho I admit that Fletch's current blog is quite good!)

  • Comment number 23.

    I made an account on here just now to let Tim know that I've been reading his blog for the past 2 years, and it's hands-down the best blog on the BBC website. Keep up the fantastic work, your spotlights on Juan Roman Riquelme are my favorites by far!

  • Comment number 24.

    valderrama is so easily recognized b/c of that the wc in germany a couple years ago he couldn't walk pk distance without someone asking for a pic or autograph. he is very nice though and fulfills every request...

  • Comment number 25.

    Tim, I'd be interested to hear more of your opinion on Joaquin Botero.

    I notice he scored 49 goals in a single season for Bolivar back in 2002. Has he ever been linked to a move to Europe? Do you think he would have cut it on this side of the Atlantic given that he tsruggled more for goals in Mexico after being pretty prolific in Bolivia. What sort of striker in Europe would you compare him to?

    Great blog once again by the way.

  • Comment number 26.

    Tim Vickery... im absolutely happy you chose to talk about this topic.
    Being colombian myself I can not express my deepest frustration and anger towards the colombian national team. It is as if they choose long lanky players who have no talent at all and only contribute to speed and no ball control or creativity whatsoever. The players only wish to try to do something fancy on the field (trickery) rather than play football. That is the premise of why they lose all their games. I strongly agree how the team lacks leadership and creativity such as the times when Carlos "Pibe" Valderrama controlled the midfield. He was proof of how Colombia used to have style and grace with the game. If you study the way he played fooball he knew the concept of playing a midfield by placing marvelous passes to open the field, one-touch passes, and most importantly the way he placed the through balls for his forwards to finish the strike. He truly made it look like a work of art. I honestly think if he were to rejoin the national team at his age... he would still be a bigger threat than the majority of the players on the field. Absolutely pathetic on the current national team for decades now... obviously time for a change in the style they have been using for over a decade now...

  • Comment number 27.

    Great article, keep them coming!
    In it you mention Colombia's recent lack of goals. I would be interested to know whether or not their coach is selecting Radamel Falcao Garcia, the River Plate striker. I knew of him even before he returned from injury in the past year and since then he's found some rich goalscoring form in Argentina. He was actually linked with my club, Manchester United, earlier in 2008. How highly thought of is he back in his native Colombia and is he currently in favour for the national team?

  • Comment number 28.

    Is this the same Valderrama that once took Real Madrid winger Michel's tackle in his hand while waiting for a free kick (corner?) to be taken?

    Sorry folks, but that's the only thing he'll be remembered for in Spain.

    Oh, and his hair, of course.

  • Comment number 29.

    Falcao Garcia (post 27) was not called up for these games because of an injury - though he should be fit for this weekend's River-Boca game.
    He's picking up lots of these little injuries (on top of the serious knee problem he had) and the lack of continuity is not good - it's prevented him from really establishing himself with Colombia.

  • Comment number 30.

    Nice picture of the sad status of Colombian football. Some points can be added for discussion. There is no doubt that money talks but the current financial crisis of the teams and the local league itself is only one factor in the critical state of the Colombian team. It is mainly lack of attitude and I have not seen mentioned the poor administration behind the Colombian Federation. While the drug money is not there anymore, the mafia-style approach from the managers is still rampant. A war of interests between player and local team owners is clear. The great team of the 80’s was a one off and arguably little input from the coach was really needed it. The talent and passion of that team was natural. Not to mention the recurrent problems with referees which is also related to the nature of football.

    Increase in violence from supporters of local teams has also moved away a lot of support and people from the stadiums. This being an issue especially in Bogota where there is strong fan base for most teams due to people going there from all over the country due to socio-economic issues. Don’t understand your argument about a “strong football culture” but being from Colombia I would say that is not the case really. Great support in the big cities does not mean a Colombian Football culture. Culture is probably what most current players lack of.

    Certainly there should still be a lot of talent in my loved Colombia but without a state policy to promote the sport and create champions and leaders instead of favouring a few people with interests in TV coverage, tickets sales, sponsorships, etc, things should not change in the near. Let’s say we can be back in a world cup in about 16-20 years. The parallel with Peruvian team from the 70’s is not unfair. Their last world cup participation was in Spain 82 and they’re last in the table right now.

  • Comment number 31.

    very nice blog
    although we hear a lot about Bojan, Saivet, etc

    who are the hottest young stars from South America?

  • Comment number 32.

    hi Tim:

    I am Colombian and I am so sad to see how badly we're currently playing. We changed our manager last month and I see that as a positive step forward. I also think that with our currently squad, we have to play 4-4-2-1 to help Hernandez (our only out-of-class player). We have never really had top goalscorers. Asprilla, Valencia and company, rarely reached more than 16 goals per season at their prime; while Rincon was our top striker in the qualifications coming from mildfield. We have to strength our midfield while improving our defending. We can still do it. I just hope, Brazil is not in top form tomorrow.....

  • Comment number 33.

    I absolutely LOVED Carlos Valderamma! I remember watching Colombia play England at Wembley in a friendly prior to the '90 World Cup.

    The game is remembered now for the famous "scorpion kick" save made by their eccentric goalie Rene Higuita (although the ref's whistle had already blown, if memory serves, for offside).

    It was Valderamma who stuck in MY mind though. For all England's huff and puff in midfield, and we had fine players in that team too, they just couldn't get NEAR him, even though he rarely even broke into a anything more than a stroll.

    I don't think he wasted a single pass and he often took just two touches; perfect control and then a simple pass. He had that rare ability, though, to pass the ball just ten yards or so BUT, in the process, take three defenders out of the game.

    Very few players nowadays have that skill. Riquleme, Pirlo, Arshavin perhaps. Not many around.

    Great article, Tim.

  • Comment number 34.

    The Colombia of today doesn't seem to be the team once was, however, it is incorrect to assume Colombia was ever one of the top two teams in South America. Although they won the South American cup in 2001, I seem to remember that Brazil or Argentina did not send a team to the competition and the other sent a weak team for fears their players would be kidnapped in Colombia.

    That team that won the South American cup had two great central defenders which was the base of that team, it was virtually impossible to get pass those two defenders.

    When you have a country that used to make more money selling drugs than coffee for example, their second largest export in dollars, after cocaine, at the time, then you have a massive problem. The current government with the help of USA has made big progress in the war against narcotraffic but there is still a while to go before the job is completed.

    A sad and worrying fact though, apart from Colombian football, is that the Colombian Mafia is turning their attention to European markets now and they are not exactly selling football players :-)

  • Comment number 35.

    Thanks for the response Ecuared, much appreciated.

  • Comment number 36.


    I was at Wembley for the Columbia game and although many will deny it, the whistle had gone for offside.

    Take nothing away from him for the skill, but people do tend to talk about that moment as though it was during normal play.


  • Comment number 37.


    Your question might not get the answer you want as Man Utd have a crop of Brazilians of their own. You might not be able to tell if they follow Utd due to success or if it is due to having Anderson, the Da Silva twins and Rodrigo Possebon in the squad.

    Before Carlos Quieroz left there were these guys plus Ronaldo and Nani who all speak Portuguese - they will probably get a lot of TV coverage as they can do interviews with local media easily.


  • Comment number 38.

    Info for gunner-zp - Adriano will not be
    playing tomorrow as he received a second
    yellow card, a pity as he's playing back in
    form in Italy as well, looks as though he's
    got over his prima donna spell.

    Thanks for the usual informative & enter-
    taing article, for me the man of the match
    (BR V VEN) was Julio Cesar, he made some
    really inspired saves, he really is world class
    Whats your thoughts on him Tim ?

    Cheers to all from Macae/Brasil

  • Comment number 39.

    Forgot to mention that according to the local sporting press, Adriano will probably be
    replaced by Jo or Pato.

  • Comment number 40.

    I recently watched the Brazil v Bolivia game from Belo Horizonte. I warned my son that he would be crying, as he did some years ago, when Brazil won the same fixture 5-0. However, on this night, Brazil were so bad, I turned the match off at half time. The match finished 0-0. Brazil played with 10 Dungas and a keeper. Dunga was the 1st Brazilian, I remember without vision or finesse. Well Brazil were totally devoid of ideas and allowed an inferior Bolivia earn a draw.

    Boliva won last weekend to climb off the bottom of the table, they are now 3rd from bottom, whilst Brazil are 2nd from top.

    I haven't watched Paraguay who lead the table, but for me the best team in south America are Argentina (the only team ever to retain the Olympic title)

  • Comment number 41.


    What about Uruguay in 1924 and 1928????!!

  • Comment number 42.

    The big Argentinian Derby this week end River Plate v Boca Juniors, a young Colombian striker to watch for the future is Falco nickname EL Tigre. In 07-08 season scored 19 goals from 35 starts. Second generation footballer he was named after Brazilian Internactional and Roma midfielder of 80's Paulo Falcoa. How does this derby rate say Inter v AC Milan ,Real Madrid v Barcelona ,Rangers vCeltic and Arsenal v Spurs? Scottish fans are dissapointed that Messi is not playing Sco v Arg match next month. Another excellent blog El Legindinho.

  • Comment number 43.

    Hello Tim, I was wondering if you could tell me more about manchester united's £20 million target Douglas?. Is he really the next ronaldinho?

  • Comment number 44.

    Good article Tim but you didn't mention the one reason Colombia lost against Paraguay...the awful goalkeeping of Agustin Julio. I have never had any confidence in him, his handling is suspect, positionally he's got problems, his decision making isn't good, the only thing he has in his favour is that he's a shot stopper, especially from distance - but that's the only part of his game people want to judge him on. The sooner Colombia get a good all round goalkeeper between the sticks the better. I give full marks to Profe Lara in some respects, most importantly he got Giovanni Hernandez playing further up the pitch, and the supporting midfielders too. This is fundamental to creating goalscoring chances. The idea that if they just keep passing the ball in areas 30 - 50 yards from the opponents goal and eventually a goalscoring opportunity will arise is laughable and shortsighted, but still there are a large number of Colombians that believe in this philosophy. So credit to Lara for getting his team playing further forward where they are in positions to create chances. However, they still want to either shoot from 30-35 yards (to far out) or when 20-25 yards from goal they are looking for an extra pass, which hardly ever comes off, and therefore wastes good opporunities. Nevertheless, just playing furher forward isn't enough if they restrict themselves to attacking in central areas, which is what they did against Paraguay, it's far too easy for the opponents to pack out that central area with defenders and midfielders, to block shots and cut out passes. They need to attack in wide areas too, and this presents a problem for Colombia right now, as it's the fullbacks' responsibities to get forward and cross, and neither fullback has the ability to deliver a quality ball. And the midfielders hardly ever stray into those wide areas, I'm not sure if they've got the quality either to put in good crosses. For me, this is the main reason that Falcao hasn't looked good playing for Colombia, he needs good service, primarily to his head, but in the few games he's played he has not once received a good cross to attack.
    Lara got some things right - good decision to bring back Yepes and certainly in the first half their tactics took a step forward. But, Bedoya doesn't give them anything, he's just over-aggresive with his elbows and likely to get sent off. He threw Montero in at the deep end and he sank. And sticking with Juilo is also a big mistake for me. Anyway, I hope they do well against Brazil and I hope Lara is given longer as he may be taking them in the right direction.


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