From a tactical perspective, it was not the brightest match from the Cafeteros. Pekerman’s strategy was to stop the ball circulation from England’s midfielders and that was crucial for a team with such offensive vocation.
We saw in our previous analyses how Juan Quintero plays a central role on Colombia’s team, and how all the build-up thinking passes thorough him.
Well, when Colombia most needed the football from his ball wizard, Quintero had his worst performance in the tournament. Aggravated by the absence of star man James Rodriguez, we saw a Colombian team worried more about American referee Mark Geiger’s actions rather than it’s own football playing.
Quintero scored 662 points in 88 minutes, an average of 7.5 points per minute, and he only played one important pass on Twelve’s dashboard (worth 86 points at minute 75). A very poor production from such a key player.
Three men to destroy not to build-up
Pekerman’s starting XI was really a surprise with three defensive midfielders to stop English offensive possibilities. Carlos Sanchez, Lerma & Barrios ended the match with ridiculous performances by Twelve’s data.
Talking about the referee, Mark Geiger had a night to forget in Moscow, with the American struggling to regain control of the match after failing to send off defender Wilmar Barrios for a first-half head-butt.
From that point on, both sets of players became embroiled in a bad-tempered affair and Geiger brandished eight yellow cards in total, equalling the tournament record. There were attempts to get opponents booked, while players began to roll around theatrically as Geiger failed to assert his authority.
Of course we put those facts into the picture, but when your team is playing such a decisive match in a World Cup, you must be ready to confront things like that and keep your attention on the ball.
This lack of competitive focus on Colombian’s players really influenced their playing and compromised their chances against a very good English team.
Without the playmaker, call the forwards
As Quintero was having a bad night, we can say that forwards Cuadrado and Radamel Falcao made a lukewarm job within the tactical limitations of the match.
Taking off the penalty kick converted, Cuadrado scored 1,068 points (2,068 with the penalty) in 128 minutes, or 8.3 points per minute.
He had one missed shot at minute 80 (worth 52 points) and a corner chance created at minute 100 (for 9 points). Very good work off ball also, closing pass lines from England on his side of the pitch (which you can see marked in yellow if you select the ‘Only important actions’ slider on the dashboard below).
Radamel Falcao was once the greatest star man from the Cafeteros. His injury back in 2014 stopped him from reaching the top level in Brazil’s World Cup, and his performance delayed to take off after that.
In Russia, there was a lot of expectation on him. But the truth is Falcao disappointed all Colombian fans with low aggressive matches and only one goal scored.
In the most important match of the competition, Falcao suffered with Pekerman’s too defensive position, and the line of three midfielders who didn’t contribute at all with playmaking.
Add the worst performance of Juan Quintero to that and, voilá, you have the worst scenario for a forward like Falcao: He scored 644 points (1,644 with the penalty kick) in 128 minutes. An average of five points per minute. Two missed shots and a very small offensive production.
A game to be involved in
Looking at the group stage numbers, we can see Juan Quintero as the fourth best player on key passes: he tried 19 and hit nine (47%). That’s an average of 6.3 key passes by match. Against England there were none. Really meaningful data illustrates the drop-off in his performance.
Colombia simply showed England that they feared them. Had Colombia played the expansive passing game that proved too much for Poland during the group stages, they would surely have made life more difficult for England, who have always found it tough against opponents who can dominate possession.
In many ways, it was sad to see a team of such talent as this Colombia side resorting to such tactics. And all the players suffered from that influence, because they focussed their minds not on winning the match, but on making it impossible to play. For both sides.
England manager Gareth Southgate said after the match: “These are the games you want to be involved in,” with a micron of emotion. “You want to be involved in games that matter.” Colombia didn’t get involved in the way it matters in a game that really mattered. And now they are flying back to Bogota.