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Does Colombia’s infighting and disastrous doubleheader spell the tip of Queiroz’s time in cost?

James Rodriguez regarded drained as he left the sector, substituted in the direction of the tip of Everton’s 3-2 win at Fulham on Sunday. Just a little fatigue is hardly shocking. James endured a demanding few days on the opposite aspect of the Atlantic.

Colombia had a disastrous doubleheader in South America’s World Cup qualifiers, dropping 3-Zero at dwelling to Uruguay earlier than collapsing 6-1 away to Ecuador. And, in accordance with the Colombian media, relations within the camp deteriorated to such a stage that James bought concerned in a fistfight with a teammate. Original studies steered that the battle was with Bournemouth midfielder Jefferson Lerma, however the journalist who broke the story, Javier Hernandez, has since mentioned that the battle was with Atalanta striker Luis Muriel. Both James and the Colombian FA have issued statements denying that any such incident took place, with the Everton participant threatening authorized motion. Hernandez, in the meantime, is sticking by his story, and making it clear that if want be he’ll reveal his supply contained in the camp.

Whatever the reality, it might be a shock if there have been no tensions within the dressing room of a crew that fell aside in such spectacular trend, as a result of the Colombian collapse was as surprising because it was dramatic. The earlier month, within the opening two rounds of the qualification marketing campaign, they performed a superb sport to beat Venezuela 3-Zero and confirmed grit to come back again and safe a 2-2 draw away to Chile.

The coach, the vastly skilled Portuguese Carlos Queiroz, has been in cost for nearly two years. Going into the current video games his file was eventually affordable. Indeed, his crew had not suffered a aggressive defeat, going out of final yr’s Copa America on penalties after not conceding a purpose in 4 video games. In 16 matches, his Colombia had received 9 and solely been overwhelmed twice: a 2-1 pleasant loss away to South Korea, and, the one actually disappointing end result, a 3-Zero thrashing by Algeria in one other pleasant in October 2019 — when, maybe considerably, midfield anchorman Wilmar Barrios was solely launched when the crew had been already three down.

So why did all of it go so badly incorrect now?

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Relations contained in the camp will not be good, however that may be true of successful sides. Victories can cowl up any variety of cracks.

Colombia’s issues started in October, once they misplaced each of their first-choice right-backs. Santiago Arias was injured early towards Venezuela and Stefan Medina limped off within the first half towards Chile. This precipitated Queiroz to meddle with a significant a part of his crew construction.

Since the 2019 Copa America, the double operate of Juan Cuadrado has made the 4-3-Three system work. When Colombia are defending, he tucks infield on the precise of the midfield trio. In assault, he breaks out for granted winger, giving James the liberty to wander infield.

But when Medina was injured, Queiroz discovered himself with out choices at right-back. Cuadrado went to play there, however he couldn’t get replaced in midfield.

This was seen all too clearly towards Uruguay. The midfield trio — Barrios anchoring between Lerma and Mateus Uribe — sat too shut collectively. Uruguay took benefit proper at the beginning, catching Lerma as Colombia tried to play out, and organising Edinson Cavani to attain. Queiroz made a change after simply half an hour; taking off Barrios was a chance, however with an additional striker in Luis Diaz and a change to 4-2-3-1, Colombia might play ahead faster and put Uruguay beneath stress. In the sweltering afternoon warmth of Barranquilla the Uruguayans had been at full stretch.

The guests made a intelligent change at half-time, exchanging 4-4-2 for 4-5-1, growing their safety towards James. At this level the sport was within the steadiness and Colombia deserved an equaliser. But the gamble failed when James misplaced possession, and, with no Barrios to guard, the defence was uncovered. Centre-back Jeison Murillo got here throughout to make the deal with and — maybe harshly — was adjudged to have dedicated a foul within the field. At the opposite finish Colombia complained a few penalty they’d not been given. On such margins, a attainable 1-1 can turn out to be 0-2, and the rating line regarded even worse after Darwin Nunez added a long-range third.

In this case Colombia’s efficiency was not as unhealthy because the end result may counsel, however the identical can’t be mentioned of their show in Ecuador 4 days later.

Queiroz went again to his authentic pondering, bringing in his third-choice right-back Luis Orejuela to permit Cuadrado to return to midfield, however there have been plenty of issues with this. Orejuela is untried at this stage and Barrios, the perfect defensive midfielder within the squad, was subsequently stored out of the beginning lineup. Primarily, although, the 4-3-Three was in all probability too optimistic for the situations of the Ecuadorian capital.

Quito stands 2,800 metres above sea stage. Ecuador make full use of the altitude, and choose up most of their factors at dwelling. Unacclimatised guests undergo from the dearth of oxygen within the air. It prevents them from taking part in their regular sport, and signifies that a conservative gameplan is normally advisable. But for the entire worldwide expertise of Queiroz, this was new to him, and he needed to watch in horror as his defence collapsed and Ecuador raced right into a 4-Zero lead earlier than the 40-minute mark.

Colombia’s coach could have wished to make 11 substitutions. He made 4 simply after Ecuador’s fourth purpose — certainly the primary time that so many modifications have been made earlier than half-time in a aggressive match. The addition of Barrios helped regular the ship, however the injury had been performed, and issues bought worse within the closing 20 minutes when Queiroz appeared to surrender on midfield altogether and made one other attacking substitution. After the 6-1 drubbing, the coach confessed that “We have neither pride nor honour at being involved in a result like this.”

But will he nonetheless have a job? His predecessor, the Argentine Jose Pekerman, had a spell of greater than six years in cost, taking Colombia to their first World Cups of the century and to their quarterfinal debut in 2014. Before him, although, there was a parade.

Between 1999 and 2011, Colombia had eight coaches, and had been fast to do away with them. Some good names had been chewed up and spat out. Jorge Luis Pinto, who went on to do some wonderful work with Costa Rica, was rapidly deemed not ok. There was a short spell for present Chile boss Reinaldo Rueda, who later took each Honduras and Ecuador to World Cups. Assistant coach within the 1980s and ’90s, and the person who took them to France ’98, Hernan Dario Gomez left after an off-the-field scandal.

And the instance most pertinent to the present scenario is that of Pekerman’s predecessor, Leonel Alvarez. The key holding midfielder within the nice ’80s and ’90s sides, Avarez discovered that his status as a participant was no defence towards the impatience directed on the nationwide crew coach. He warmed up for the 2014 qualifiers with two pleasant wins, and led his aspect to a superb victory away to Bolivia within the opening spherical of the marketing campaign. Then got here a doubleheader of dwelling video games. Both occasions Colombia took the lead, however Venezuela hit again to attract, and with Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero firing collectively, Argentina ended up 2-1 winners. Just these two outcomes — and one slender defeat in 5 video games — had been sufficient to have Alvarez packing his baggage.

If the identical standards applies, Queiroz will definitely be sacked, and the Colombian FA are taking a look at their choices. But one factor could but save the previous Real Madrid boss. It just isn’t clear that the FA can afford to sack him. The sale of TV rights to the World Cup qualifiers has been disappointing, and there’s no income coming in from ticket gross sales. Money is tight.

There can be no urgent hurry. The subsequent spherical is on the finish of March. But then the video games come thick and quick, together with the Copa America in June and July, which Colombia are co-hosting. The FA have to be certain they’ve the precise man to make sure that James & Co. are taking up the opposition and never one another.

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