Verdict: Away win
Best odds: 11/10
Colombia and Brazil are set to do battle in the 11th round of the World Cup qualifications in the CONMEBOL group at the Estadio Metropolitano in Barranquilla, Colombia. For Brazil, it will be game No.10 after their match against Argentina got suspended last month.
Colombia will be looking to produce a result against the odds in this match and get some satisfaction after losing to Brazil in the group stages of this years edition of the Copa America. They were eventually knocked out of the tournament by winners Argentina in the semifinals and beat Peru for third place.
Since then, Reinaldo Rueda’s team have played a 1-1 draw away to Bolivia and the same away to Paraguay, and beat Chile at home by 3-1, all in September. They also played a goalless draw away to Uruguay this week.
As things stand at the moment, Colombia are in fifth place with 14 points, two less than Ecuador in third and Uruguay in fourth, and two more than Paraguay in sixth.
Rueda has named arguably the strongest squad available for selection. Veteran striker Radamel Falcao, Juventus winger/fullback Juan Cuadrado, defenders Davinson Sanchez of Tottenham Hotspur and Yerry Mina of Everton are all there, as is Napoli goalkeeper David Ospina.
Gremio striker Miguel Borja would have probably been called up as well, but he is unavailable through injury.
The qualifying campaign could not have gone any better than it has for the Selecao so far. Nine games, nine wins, and the top spot in the table with a maximum of 27 points, eight more than Argentina in second place. Having suffered a heartbreak in the Copa America final, they are yet to avenge themselves on the continental champions, but every other opponent has been beaten. In September, Tite’s team beat Chile away by 0-1, and Peru at home by 2-0.
This week, they added a 1-3 win away to Venezuela to their tally, even though it seemed for a long time that the match would yield a big surprise. Eric Ramirez opened the scoring for the home side after 10 minutes and that remained the only goal for a majority of the contest. However, Marquinhos equalized with 19 of the 90 minutes remaining, and Gabriel ‘Gabigol’ Barbosa turned the game around from the penalty spot in the 85th. The final touch came from substitute Antony in the fifth minute of stoppage time.
Tite won’t be able to call upon Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro through teeth trouble apparently, which leaves Liverpool’s Fabinho as the likeliest choice to provide protection to the back line, with Chelsea’s Thiago Silva likely in charge of it and Marquinhos by his side.
Ederson Moraes of Manchester City is likely to start between the posts ahead of Alisson Becker, even though the Liverpool man has been on excellent form this season too. Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar was suspended for the Venezuela clash, but he’s available for this one and practically certain to be in the starting XI, alongside or just behind ‘Gabigol’ Barbosa or Gabriel Jesus.
Brazil appear to mean business when it comes to the possibility of winning the sixth World Cup in their history. Their immense quality should be enough to see the Selecao return home victorious from Colombia, as difficult as the trip undoubtedly is.
Verdict: Away win
Best odds: 11/10
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