Quintero vs. James: the Colombian issue

Maybe the greatest surprise of the day was not Japan beating Colombia (which was the first time they beat a South American team in the World Cup), but the absence of star man James Rodriguez in the initial XI of the Cafeteros.

With Juan Quintero playing James’s functions, we expected a Colombian team working the ball, valuing possession and being less vertical on offensives transitions as usual.

But the red card to Sanchez at the beginning of the match pushed Quintero to play as a “regista”, close to the defensive line and making long ball passes to connect with the attack.

We can see this in his first half heatmap and pass map from OPTA. Quintero was making correct connections with the right side, where Juventus forward Cuadrado moves and allows good passing lines. There was not the same accuracy on the left side, with Izquierdo.

Maps from OPTA

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