Colombia 2 – 0 Bolivia
Estadio Brigadier General Estanislao Lopez, July 10th – Group C
Colombia became the first team to officially progress into the quarter finals with this 2 – 0 defeat over Bolivia, who will be left wondering what could have been had they not collapsed against a weakened Costa Rican team in game two.
Bolivia, without the suspended trio of Walter Flores, Luis Alberto Gutierrez and Ronald Rivero, lined up in a 4-3-3 with Christian Vargas, Santos Amador and Ronald Garcia coming into the starting XI. Hernan Dario Gomez, meanwhile, selected the same Colombian XI as the previous two group matches, matching Bolivia’s 4-3-3.
The main difference between the two teams tactically, however, was that Colombia pressed the ball aggressively and played Carlos Sanchez deeper than the other two central midfielders, who were given more freedom to roam forward. Colombia also played a far more expansive passing game, with Abel Aguilar and Fredy Guarin distributing the ball from the midfield area, as well as having far more attacking full backs.
There were several stand out players for Colombia, with both full backs – Juan Zuniga and Pablo Armero – in particular providing excellent attacking outlets, whilst Falcao was a persistent threat up front. The constant running of Hertha Berlin striker Adrian Ramos, who has had performed well in the tournament so far, was also problematic for the Bolivian back line.
Bolivia, meanwhile, struggled to build much from midfield and seemed to emphasise winning set pieces as their best hope to score goals, although the skill of Juan Carlos Arce was evident throughout the game as well, but he struggled to deliver any end product. Bolivia struggled to create any real chances through the game and seemed deflated even before going behind.
The game, in terms of being competitive, was pretty much over by the 28th minute after Colombia went 2 – 0 up, leaving Bolivia needing to score 4 goals, which never seemed likely. The first goal came as the Bolivian backline was caught high and square up the pitch, allowing Falcao to get in behind following a simple through ball from Dayro Moreno, and he easily finished past Carlos Arias. Falcao doubled his tally in the game, and the tournament, from the penalty spot after Armero was felled by Santos Amador following a surging run into the box.
Colombia will be quietly confident given Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina’s stuttering starts to the competition and as they steadily build up steam – and with Falcao getting off the mark – they are starting to look like dark horses in the competition. Gomez’s decision to select the same XI throughout the group stages means there’s consistency in the side and with the quality throughout the starting XI and the options of Hugo Rodallega, Cristian Zapata and Teofilo Gutierrez on the bench, Colombia should be bullish going into the quarter finals.
Bolivia, meanwhile, will know that with a bit more discipline and had Moreno not spurned a golden opportunity to put Bolivia two goals up in the first game of the group against Argentina, they too could be joining Colombia in the quarter finals.
This result also sees Venezuela, Chile and Peru qualify for the quarter finals.