James Rodriguez’s stat-line tonight reads a little something like this: 1 goal, 1 assist, 1 missed PK, 4 potential assists.
Tonight’s world cup qualifier in Barranquilla between Colombia and Venezuela was a bloodbath - with Colombia doing their best to survive Venezuela’s slinging cleats and Venezuela trying to tread water against relentless attacks from Pekerman’s high-octane attack.
Both were lucky.
Venezuela ended the match with 9-men when all was said and done, and the 2-0 loss was flattering for them. Colombia wasted a plethora of chances, including two penalties - misses from Carlos Bacca and James Rodriguez from the spot respectively. And if Venezuela survived what should have been a more emphatic scoreline, that’s nothing compared to what James Rodriguez endured - leaving the pitch unscathed from a rabid Venezuelan team out to break every bone in his body. Rafael Dudamel’s team was reminiscent of Segunda B teams that Castilla face - thugs physically battering exceptionally talented youth with higher upside than they ever had.
Full disclosure: There was a lot wrong with this match. For starters, Venezuela had no answer for Colombia’s energy from the first minute apart from pure brutality. On the flipside, Colombia couldn’t capitalize on Venezuela’s defensive malfunctions due to their own gremlin-like approach offensively. They scuffed their ball control, made poor decisions in the final third, and just weren’t clinical in front of goal. Had Colombia taken their chances with some sort of regularity, James Rodriguez would have ended the night on three or four assists. Carlos Bacca, for all the good he did in this year’s Serie A opener, looked jet-lagged - or something close to it.
But he also instigated Colombia’s opening goal. He was the recipient of a falling, looping ball just outside the area, and after some good ball control, he found James with a square pass in the area which was finished off by James’ right foot.
Video: James Rodriguez's goal. https://t.co/z7tvSGe7bA— RMadridHome (@RMadridHome_) September 1, 2016
James continued to exert his influence as the game progressed. Though he did make a couple bad passes and poor decisions - in the 58th minute he opted to shoot a tamed shot from long distance when Luis Muriel could’ve been slipped through on goal - he was far and beyond the best player on the pitch. In the 81st minute, James put in a gorgeous cross to Macnelly Torres for Colombia’s 2nd goal after some great footwork on the right side - a position he typically thrives in.
Without doubt, Colombia had sealed their three points by then. Just prior to that, Carlo Bacca was fouled in the box and Venezuela were reduced to ten men. In the 90th minute, James nearly capped his impressive night with a 2nd goal to go along with his assist. He was fouled in the penalty area, and with Carlos Bacca already off the pitch, James was the next natural penalty taker, though his spot-kick was saved by Dani Hernandez - the Tenerife keeper was fantastic tonight.
This was a busy day for Madridistas and international matches. Make sure to catch Lucas’ recap of the European friendlies earlier, and stay tuned for Om’s analysis of Brazil’s victory over Ecuador.