Monday, July 15, 2024

Colombia v Panama: Copa America´s surprise package down to more than just luck – Christensen

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 5 Jul 2024

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Thomas Christiansen is challenging Panama to keep springing surprises at the Copa America when they face off against Colombia in the quarter-finals.

After losing their opening game of the tournament 3-1 to free-scoring Uruguay, Panama dug in to cause an upset for host nation United States, coming from behind to win 2-1.

A comfortable 3-1 victory over Bolivia followed secured second place in Group C as Panama booked their place in the knockout round of the Copa America for the very first time.

Former Leeds United boss Christiansen challenged his team to be the surprise package, but says this result is years in the making.

“When we were going to leave for the United States, I said I would like to be the surprise [of the tournament], like Morocco in the [2022] World Cup [who made it to the semi-finals],” he told reporters.

“Well, now we’re through to the next round. I am happy. Super happy.

“It’s constant, really, what we have been doing, what we have been reaping in these almost four years.

“[Is it a] coincidence? I don’t believe in coincidences. You have to work. You have to fight for it. Luck alone isn’t enough.”

Colombia were the winners of Group D, beating Brazil to top spot.

Wins over Paraguay and Costa Rica put Colombia in the driving seat before they held Dorival Junior’s side to a 1-1 draw in the final match.

While that may be a surprising outcome on the face of it, Colombia are the form team in South America and are on a 26-game unbeaten streak.

Integral to their success has been James Rodriguez, who is often their talisman at major tournaments, having first come into the spotlight in the 2014 World Cup.

“I feel comfortable, there is still a long way to go, we still have to play on Saturday, but I felt good,” the ex-Real Madrid star said.

“I am going through a good phase here; we are going step by step. Panama will be difficult, but we will play with a lot of quality.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Colombia – James Rodriguez

James has been a driving force for Colombia at the tournament, having already recorded three assists.

Colombia had the best crossing accuracy at the Copa America group stage, completing 41% of their crosses (20/49). James was responsible for 11 of their successful crosses – the most of any player in the tournament.

Panama – Jose Fajardo

Out of players who attempted more than five shots in the Copa America group stage, Jose Fajardo boasts the second-highest shot conversion rate.

He scored with 29% of his attempts (2/7), bettered only by Argentina’s Lautaro Martinez (44%), who is the tournament’s leading scorer.

MATCH PREDICTION: COLOMBIA WIN

Colombia stretched their unbeaten run in all competitions to 26 matches with their draw against Brazil, and the Opta computer has backed them to continue that here.

Colombia are playing in their sixth consecutive Copa America quarter-final, with each of their last four going to penalties. Los Cafeteros have won twice (against Peru in 2016 and Uruguay in 2021) and lost twice (against Argentina in 2015 and Chile in 2019).

Panama have won four of their seven competitive matches in the 21st century against opponents from CONMEBOL (losing the other three).

Two of those victories were against Colombia when they faced each other in the group stage (1-0) and the semifinals (3-2) of the 2005 Concacaf Gold Cup.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Colombia – 61.6%

Draw – 19.6%

Panama – 18.8%

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

SoccerNews

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