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  • On July 12, 1991, in the commercial Colombian city of Cúcuta, a star was born. With the imposing image of the magnificent Andes posing as the backdrop, James David Rodríguez Rubio opened his eyes upon the world for the very first time. Almost 23 years on, James is ascending his own mountains with frightening speed.
    Born in Cúcuta but raised in the cosmopolitan city of Ibagué, famous for its music, James's emergence as Colombia's poster boy has coincided with the country's rebirth as one of football's superpotencias. Manager José Pékerman is composing a new chapter in Colombia's history with an orchestra that plays football the beautiful way.

  • This is a different Brazil. Forming my fantasy football team, I realised that I had not selected a single player from pre-tournament favourites and host nation, Brazil.  Re-forming it now for the quarter-finals, I once again didn’t choose a single Brazilian player. This is slightly to do with my aversion to Neymar (I know he’s a good player, I know he’ll be a great player, but that doesn’t mean I have to like him), but apart from his absence can you really think of another player in the Brazil side that I should select?

    A case can be made for the defence. But only one clean sheet in four games this tournament hardly gives me confidence against a Colombian side who have scored 11 goals and boast James Rodriguez, who in my mind has been the stand out player this tournament.

  • When Jurgen Klinsmann announced the 23 U.S. players that he would be taking to Brazil, people started to doubt just how well Klinsmann knew his team. For the following month after the roster was released, Landon Donovan’s exclusion graced headlines around the country. It was one story after another about Klinsmann and how he was “defacing” the image of U.S. Soccer. I’ll admit it, I was skeptical of how the team would play going into the “group of death” without a powerhouse like Landon Donovan, but boy, did they prove me (and basically all of the world) wrong.

  • Digging deeper and burrowing beyond the faces of world football's most established players - the ones who are grabbing the plaudits and newspaper back pages -, which players could see themself elevated up a level due to their eye catching World Cup performances? Here are my five picks:

    1. Juan Cuadrado (Colombia)

    What's more impressive; out-muscling Yaya Toure, or assisting four World Cup goals and even scoring one yourself? Either way, both are valid enough reasons to warrant interest from Europe's biggest clubs, and Cuadrado is receiving just that.

    Cuadrado, who is a winger by trade, had a major role in his side's group stage domination and has been constantly been at the heart of his side's offensive play. The 26-year old Fiorentina attacker creates a lot, and combined with his ability to pick a pass or fizz in a cross, he's has proved himself to be a devastating asset for the South American side over the past two weeks. And, unsuprisingly, his performances have attracted attention from all of Europe's top sides.

  • The World Cup campaign of the United States came to an end, despite a late push against Belgium. They couldn't create enough chances from their good build-up play, because they relied on crossing as a method for providing the final ball.

    The formations

    The United States started in a 4-3-3 formation, with Geoff Cameron in midfield. This meant that Matt Besler took his place alongside Omar Gonzalez in the centre of defence.

    Belgium started in a 4-3-3 formation; Divock Origi started instead of Romelu Lukaku up front, and Dries Mertens earned a starting place as a result of his good performances in the tournament so far.

 

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