With only three qualifiers remaining, Colombia is in great position to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. They sit in second place with 24 points, and two of their three remaining games are against teams in the bottom three in the table.
However, the situation is more precarious than it seems. Though standing in second place, Uruguay and Chile remain one point behind the Cafeteras, and powerhouse Argentina only one additional point behind in 5th place with 22 points.
By all measures, Colombia’s game on August 31st against Venezuela is a must-win. With Brazil up next on the schedule, a loss, or even a tie would put the Colombians in a difficult situation, likely advancing Chile into the second position and putting Argentina, Uruguay or both ahead as well.
With that context, all eyes fall on Colombian James Rodriguez. James has been out since suffering a muscle injury at Bayern Munich. His status for the match against Venezuela, and even the September match against Brazil, remains in doubt. Colombia’s El Tiempo newspaper is reporting that he may already have been ruled out.
On the bright side, it appears that Juan Guillermo Cuadrado is healthy and will play for the squad and Falcao appears to be back to top form.
The game against Venezuela will be played with the country’s economic and social crisis in the background, and a recent war of words between Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. It will also be James’ first game with teammate David Ospina since his divorce with David’s sister Daniela earlier this summer.