Copa America team preview: Dark horses Colombia face tough path to glory

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Colombia will arrive in the United States this summer regarded as the fourth favourites to lift the Copa America trophy, but should more people be keeping an eye on Néstor Lorenzo’s men? 

Los Cafeteros are one of the hottest national teams on the planet at present as they are undefeated in 23 matches and have won their last eight in a row.

That continued throughout their pre-tournament friendlies as Colombia hammered both the USA and Bolivia respectively, putting five past America and netting three against their South American counterparts.

Lorenzo’s team also sit third in CONMEBOL’s World Cup qualifying, winning three and drawing the others after six games. All this makes Colombia dark horses to lift Copa America this summer.

The biggest obstacle in Los Cafeteros’  way of achieving this is their potential run to the final. If things play out on paper as people would expect, the 2001 winners will have to overcome the three other favourites to win the South American tournament for just the second time.

That would make things extra special for the nation and are worth watching throughout the coming month.

Previous Copa America finish  

In 2021, Colombia came very close to winning Copa America as it could be argued that Argentina’s Emi Martinez is what stopped them from lifting the trophy for a second time.

Los Cafeteros started the tournament slowly, finishing third in their group with just one win out of four matches, which came during their first match against Ecuador. That created a tough route to the final for Reinaldo Rueda’s team and they almost overcame it.

The quarter-finals pitted Colombia against Uruguay, which they won 4-2 on penalties following a cagey 0-0 draw. Their reward? Argentina, and after working very hard to earn a 1-1 with the eventual champions, the Coffeemakers were knocked out on penalties after some Emi Martinez heroics.

A 3-2 win over Peru in their final game of Copa America 2021 earned them a third-place finish, which is the least they deserved for their efforts.

Colombia finished third at Copa America 2021

Colombia’s 2024 Copa America squad 

Colombia are not a squad littered with well-known stars but they are greater than the sum of their parts.

Names such as Luis Diaz, David Ospina, Yerry Mina, Davinson Sanchez, Daniel Munoz, James Rodriguez, Jefferson Lerma, Jhon Duran and Luis Sinisterra will be known to Premier League fans; however, most of these players are not lighting it up every week at their clubs.

Liverpool’s Diaz is certainly the main man for Colombia, but keep an eye on Crystal Palace’s Munoz, who has been electric at Selhurst Park since moving to the South London club this year. The full-back has the same impact with his national team and is a big threat in a team with a lot of verticality.

Goalkeepers

David Ospina (Al Nassr), Camilo Vargas (Atlas), Alvaro Montero (Millonarios)

Defenders

Carlos Cuesta (Genk), Jhon Lucumi (Bologna), Santiago Arias (Bahia), Yerry Mina (Cagliari), Johan Mojica (Osasuna), Daniel Munoz (Crystal Palace), Davinson Sanchez (Galatasaray), Deiver Machado (Lens)

Midfielders

Kevin Castano (Krasnodar), Richard Rios (Palmeiras), Jorge Carrascal (Dynamo Moscow), James Rodriguez (Sao Paulo), Jhon Arias (Fluminense), Mateus Uribe (Al Sadd), Jefferson Lerma (Crystal Palace), Juan Fernando Quintero (Racing), Yaser Asprilla (Watford)

Forwards

Luis Diaz (Liverpool), Miguel Borja (River Plate), Jhon Duran (Aston Villa), Luis Sinisterra (Bournemouth), Rafael Santos Borre (Internacional), Jhon Cordoba (Krasnodar)

Expected starting 11 

Colombia have been lining up in a 4-2-3-1 formation under Néstor Lorenzo and that did not change during their pre-tournament friendlies.

The 2001 champions will be strong defensively and rely on Liverpool’s Luis Diaz to provide a spark up top, similar to his role in the 2021 edition of the tournament.

The below line-up is how Colombia could start the tournament against Paraguay, with one or two positions open to change.

Key player 

Luis Diaz

A lot of Colombia’s hopes rest on the shoulders of their biggest star, Luis Diaz. The Liverpool man had a mixed season at Anfield but will always be a threat given his speed and tenacity. The winger finished the campaign with 13 goals and five assists to his name across 51 matches, but fans of the Premier League club would have expected more.

A big reason for this could be attributed to a major moment in the footballer’s life as his parents were kidnapped mid-season in October. It is unknown how much that scenario affected the 27-year-old and if Colombia do win Copa America, it will be even more special given what Diaz has been through.

The winger was exceptional during the 2021 edition of the competition as he finished joint top goalscorer with four goals, however, the Colombian achieved this having played only five games – two less than Lionel Messi and Gianluca Lapadula.

Diaz is expected to have a similar impact this summer in the United States and got on the scoresheet last time out against Bolivia.

This summer has the potential to be a special one for Colombia and if they go on to win their second Copa America, Dias will almost certainly be the protagonist.

Liverpool’s Luis Diaz dreams of leading Colombia hoping to Copa America 2024

Predicted finish for Colombia

Should Colombia live up to their dark horse tag to win Copa America this summer, Lorenzo’s men will have a very tough run to glory should everything play out the way it is supposed to on paper.

Los Cafeteros are in a group with Brazil, Paraguay and Costa Rica, which they are expected to get out of. Winning it would make a big difference to Colombia’s campaign, but they are likely to finish behind Brazil.

Should that happen that will set up a potential repeat of their 2021 Copa America quarter-final clash with Uruguay. Marcelo Bielsa’s team are very strong and should get revenge for their defeat three years ago causing Colombia to exit the competition at the quarter-final stage. That would be a big disappointment for the Coffeemakers, but that is how the draw is sometimes.

Should they continue down this route, they could face Brazil again in the semis and will then have to overcome the defending champions Argentina in the final. As previously mentioned, Colombia’s route to glory is very difficult, but Lorenzo’s men have the potential to achieve this and are certainly the dark horses in the United States this summer.

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