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Colombia Punish Sorry Poland as Rodriguez Shines

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Match Report by Anas Ali

Colombia sealed their first victory of this year’s FIFA World Cup with a comprehensive performance against Poland. In what turned out to be one of the most one-sided contests, Los Cafeteros dominated the entire game to come out as convincing 3:0 winners.

Radamel Falcao scored his first goal of the 2018 FIFA World Cup while strikes from Juan Cuadrado and Yerry Mina helped the South Americans inflict further damage into desolated Polish hearts. The Europeans are knocked out of the competition after suffering two back to back defeats and will be playing for pride in their final group game against Japan.

Lineups and review

Colombia were high on confidence following the return of James Rodriguez. The Bayern Munich superstar was only fit enough to make the bench in the opener against Japan. Juan Quintero and Juan Cuadrado partnered James in the offensive positions with Radamel Falcao leading the attack.

Barcelona defender Yerry Mina was brought in place of Murillo in central defence. He partnered alongside Tottenham Centre-Back Davinson Sanchez in central defence, with Yohan Mojica and Santiago Arias playing on either side of the defence.

Unlike Colombia, Poland made a host of changes in their starting lineup, following a disappointing defeat over Senegal. The likes of Jakub Blaszczykowski, Karol Linetty. Arkadiusz Milik and Thiago Cionek were all dropped from the starting eleven. In fact, head coach Adam Nawalka even changed the 4-2-3-1 into a 3-4-3 in order to make Poland much more flexible.

Piotr Zielinski was shifted into a wider role, having failed to impress against Senegal from the central midfield position while Lukasz Piszczek was also shifted to a centre back position with Bartosz Bereszynski being deployed as the right-WingBack. Jacek Goralski replaced Karol Linetty and started alongside Grzegorz Krychowiak in central midfield.

The game started in a cat and mouse fashion with both teams struggling to retain their dominance in the opposition half. Colombia showed glimpses of what they can do in the final third but were often held back due to intensive pressing from Poland.

Adam Nawalka used the 3-4-3 formation, hoping his side would be able to retain possession by having an extra man in midfield. In addition, two Wing-Backs in Bartosz Bereszynski and Maciej Rybus dropped deep in defensive stances in order to form a five-man defence, with Piszczek shifting into central position to operate as an RCB.

In midfield, both Jacek Goralski and Grzegorz Krychowiak operated as CDMs with Dawid Kownacki and Piotr Zielinski frequently moving deep to create a box which oversaw the defensive line.

Although the numerical advantage did help the Europeans at times, particularly in the pressing phases, it had turned out to be largely detrimental as Colombia made full use Poland’s lack of defensive solidity.

Lukasz Piszczek and Michal Pazdan, in particular, struggled to cope with Colombia’s front three in Juan Cuadrado, James Rodriguez and Juan Quintero running them ragged throughout the course of the game. Cuadrado, most notably, made a series of dangerous runs from the left flank, which proved to be too much for Maciej Rybus. In fact, the Lyon defender makes a strong case for being the most disappointing player on the pitch last night.

While Cuadrado’s sheer pace and determination caused havoc in the Polish defence, James Rodriguez and Juan Quintero’s creativity completely destabilized them, more often than not. Quintero, in particular, produced a few stunning through balls which ripped the defence completely open.

James, on the other hand, showed exactly why he’s one of the best South American playmakers, as he was the most active player in the final third, completing the most number of passes than any other player on the pitch. He also registered two assists with Juan Quintero supplying Cuadrado’s goal.

Colombia’s right-sided overload caused a lot of trouble for the likes of Maciej Rybus and Lukasz Piszczek, as clarified by @11tegen11’s pass map down below.

However, despite a clumsy first half, Poland still had the chance to make some necessary changes in the half-time break but unfortunately for their fans, they didn’t. On the contrary, Poland evolved as the more reckless side in the second half, often leaving acres of space in behind in attacking moments.

And Colombia made no mistake in exploiting these spaces, which is evident in the xG chart. Los Cafeteros enjoyed a significant growth in their xG ratings, after the restart, ultimately helping them register a comfortable 3:0 victory against the Poles.

At the very end, it was the very definition of a one-sided contest, as Poland, with all their flaws and poor performances were completely ripped apart by a Colombia team, who showed incredible improvement and brought the best out of the attacking talents that they have in long supply.

The win hands Colombia a sigh of relief, knowing that they only have to register a victory against Senegal to book their places in the Round of 16. Poland, on the other side, will look to prevent further humiliation when they meet Japan later this week


Feature Image via Goal.com

xG Plot and Pass map via 11tegen11

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