After the first week of action in this World Cup, it is hard to argue that anyone has been more entertaining than Colombia. Sure enough, their exciting brand of attacking football has paid off; having already played two matches, Los Cafeteros have won both and are, without doubt, a chance to progress quarter-finals and beyond.
Their 2-1 win over Ivory Coast even more epitomises the claim that, even without the mercurial Falcao, this Colombia side are more than capable of beating the best. The key behind their initial success is simply raw pace.
Time after time the diminutive Ivory Coast left back, Arthur Boka, looked helpless against the imperious Juan Guillermo Cuadrado who continuously carried the main Colombian threat down the right flank. Victor Ibarbo had less success against the quicker Serge Aurier, but their game plan was simple, play out wide and allow James Rodriguez and Teofilo Gutierrez the space in the middle to finish.
Gutierrez had a poor game, missing clear cut chances during the first half but a ten minute spell in the second half was enough to secure victory and if he had been on form, the game could have been over before half time. Rodriguez scored with a fantastic header following Cuadrado’s corner and pressuring the player on the ball led to what was the decisive goal just minutes later.
The energy that Colombia bring is highly infectious and with the support they have from the stands no side will want to face them as the game was virtually a home game, given the one-sided nature of supporters in Brasilia today.
As for the Ivorians, they can still take positives from defeat, but they must make changes. Coach Sabri Lamouchi must now start Didier Drogba against Greece; he has been keen to use his star striker as an impact player and it has been clearly demonstrated in both games so far that the side has produced far more when the 36-year-old is on the pitch. He did not have the best of performances personally, but others are clearly inspired by his presence and he will always be on the mind of the defenders.
Lamouchi also has to work Yaya Toure into a more pivotal role as much like Colombia he favours playing down the flanks, especially through Serge Aurier. Toure was more involved against Colombia than Japan but he has never been able to replicate his club form at the international level; he must be given a more inclusive role.
Ivory Coast should be able to beat Greece and qualify for the knockout stage but Lamouchi needs to be bold and play with two up front for the game as the Greeks favour a defensive approach and like so many other sides in world football they are much stronger going forwards rather than in defence.