State of affairs in Colombian soccer makes bleak reading. They haven’t won a qualifier in 7 games and are in real danger of missing out on Qatar for the first time in 12 years. For a country of James, Cuadrado and Luis Diaz(recently joined Liverpool), this will be the shock absentee of this years tournament. They all lined up here against Argentina who already sealed their berth, most likely as runners up to Brazil. They therefore never needed talisman Messi for this one. They however had Inter Milan man Lautaro Martinez as a false nine in an attacking trio with Di Maria and Ocampos. Part of why Colombia have struggled has got to do with their inability to start games well. They allow opposition too much time and space as seen by the Di Maria party tricks , firing up the Cordoba crowd. Couple that with defending too deep, the goal was coming from Argentina. Lautaro’s control of an awkward ball after Ocampos missed the header. Number 6 for Colombia, Castillo was also put off by that miss.
Colombia’s best chance at equalizing was in first half injury time. Number 19 Borja was through in on goal had Emilio Martinez to beat but the Villa keeper did the basics right and it paid off. Keep yourself big. Martinez is huge for Argentina, HAS ONLY CONCEDED one goal in the last 6 matches for Argentina. 16 attempts at goal for Argentina in this one, most of them from PSG man Di Maria. He isn’t afraid to shoot from afar, although his goal return needs improvement. This being said coaches prefer such a player to one who never shoots. In came Dybala and Emi Buendia(Villa seems to be brimming with internationals these days) in the second half. Luis Diaz gave a glimpse of what Liverpool fans can expect of him. He takes the full back on which is great, but he doesn’t pass the ball when the dribble is not on. Like most high stakes games this one had a lot of fouls, 29 all in all but not particularly malicious. Davison Sanchez should have seen red however for the elbow on minute 79, blatant as it was the ref took no action on the Spurs man. Final play I want to talk about was in minute 91. The presence of VAR has meant that even when the offside flag is raised by ref, play continues right? That is absolute nonsense when we dealing with blatant ones such as this play. We avoid unnecessary injuries that could happen had the whistle just blown there and then. Colombia in real peril sitting 7th on the 10 team standings, four points adrift 5th placed Peru who hold the final intercontinental playoff place with two games to go. Chile,6th, also in the running , two points ahead of the Colombians.