It was just about 12 months ago that Colombia captured the imagination of the footballing world with their wonderful, exciting, scintillating displays at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, one that confirmed the star of James Rodriguez and put Juan Cuadrado on many a fan and club's radar. But Colombia left that competition after a bruising fight against Brazil in the quarterfinals, and they've continued much in the same way at this year's Copa América.
As their run comes to a close with today's elimination, their record is hardly anything to be proud of: four games, one win, one draw, one loss, and one penalty kick shootout loss. One goal scored. They looked up for it just once, in the win against Brazil. They largely underwhelmed in the other two group games, and in today's knockout round match, they hoped to scratch, claw, and foul their way into the semifinals. And it almost worked! The effectiveness of their plan was reduced with every new yellow card and every free kick conceded in a dangerous position, and yet, somehow, Argentina failed to break through. David Ospina, soon to be collateral damage to Petr Cech's move to Arsenal, had already performed three miracles to keep Argentina at bay, and when his divine powers failed, Cristián Zapata was there to slide in and clear in off the line.
Unsurprisingly, given the game plan, the only real impact Cuadrado made was on the defensive end, tracking back, taking a yellow for a professional foul, and escaping a second one after clashing with Marcos Rojo. He did set up James on the counter once, but overall, it was a far cry from his impressive display against Brazil. Those 90 minutes gave us hope for the season ahead, so let's just cling to that since it's still better than any of Falcao's shifts at the competition. El Tigre got a little over 15 minutes today after starting on the bench. Here's a full record of his contributions: . That's harsh perhaps, he did collect a yellow card as well. And he walloped home his penalty kick in the shootout, as did Cuadrado.
There was plenty of drama in the penalty kick shootout — no extra time at the Copa América until the final — as the two teams first one-upped each other in quality takes, then one-upped each other in hilarious misses. Eventually, Argentina prevailed, Carlos Tevez with the decider, and move on to face the winner of tomorrow's Brazil vs. Paraguay match. Colombia go home and maybe think about how they managed to waste all their glittering attacking talent.