FIFA World Cup 2018: Colombia look Group H pace setters in race to knockouts

Poland and Senegal will give Colombia a run for their money in Group H at the FIFA World Cup 2018 as Japan look the weakest side.
James Rodriguez’s Colombia will be one of the teams to watch out for at the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia.(AFP)
James Rodriguez’s Colombia will be one of the teams to watch out for at the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia.(AFP)
Updated on Jun 12, 2018 12:55 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Mumbai | By

James Rodriguez and Colombia were an unknown commodity going into the 2014 World Cup but by the end of it they were among the most-talked about.

Rodriguez finished with the Golden Boot and Colombia almost beat Brazil before going down 1-2 in quarter-finals — their best finish in the event.

The match saw an entire nation weep as Neymar was ruled out of the tournament after he failed to recover from a horrendous tackle from Juan Zuniga.

Zuniga won’t be in the Colombian camp but Los Cafeteros return — with experience under their belt — as one of the teams to watch out for in Russia.

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Like Rodriguez in 2014, Poland’s Robert Lewandowski and Senegal’s Sadio Mane will be appearing for the first time at a World Cup. All three will be out there to prove a point.

Rodriguez will look to make his loan move to Bayern Munich permanent or switch to a bigger club elsewhere.

He has been revitalised since joining the Bavarians after a miserable spell at Real Madrid, which saw him warm the bench on most occasions.

His club-mate Lewandowski’s task will be to get over the disappointment of the 2016 European Championships, where he finished with just one goal in five matches, and display the killer instinct that saw him finish top-scorer in the Bundesliga for Bayern and the World Cup qualifiers.

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Mane, who has been courted by Real Madrid, will try to convince them that he is the right fit for a club of their stature and that his performances at Liverpool weren’t a fluke.

Even if the Real move doesn’t materialise, potential suitors will be queuing up to bring him on board. After all, he has enjoyed a stellar season at Anfield, despite all the limelight being hogged by Mohamed Salah.

While none of the teams in the group can be counted among the giants of the game, they are the emerging nations that have given the established countries a run for their money.

It will be a battle between Poland, Senegal and Colombia for the two spots in the round of 16. On paper, though, Colombia are the favourites to go through as they have the most balanced side.

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The fourth team in the group are Japan, who have created some upsets in the past but this is the weakest team they are taking to a World Cup.

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