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Colombia’s Crown Jewel could shine at Women’s World Cup

A look at Colombia and Real Madrid’s prodigious talent, Linda Caicedo, in the lead up to the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Real Madrid CF v UDG Tenerife Egatesa - Liga F Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images

Colombia are set to feature in their third FIFA Women’s World Cup, after missing out on the action in 2019. Since then, Las Cafeteras have secured a second-place finish in the Copa America Femenina and have secured a ticket to down under for the World Cup. The South American nation lost just three games in 2022 (two against reigning world champions, USA, and one against Brazil in the Copa final). They went on a run of 12 games with 11 wins and just one defeat last year.

Although this year has been a mixed bag so far (two wins, three draws and two defeats), Colombia are dreaming ahead of the World Cup. There’s a different air about them now, a different swagger and one of the key differences is an 18-year-old prodigy, Linda Caicedo.

The Colombian winger recently joined Real Madrid after turning 18 in February. The youngster has quickly established herself as an integral part of the squad and played a direct hand in six goals (two goals and four assists) in just 674 minutes of league action. She famously scored the winner against Villarreal in the 100th minute of the Copa de la Reina quarterfinals.

Caicedo is a certified superstar already.

The 2005-born winger played for Colombia’s senior side in their run-up to the Copa America finals last year and was voted the best player of the tournament for her two goals and two assists, winning the golden ball, at just 17 years of age. In her 16 appearances for Colombia, the prodigy has gotten on the scoresheet four times.

The forward then went on to lead the U17 side to a second-place finish at the FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup in India, earning the silver ball for her incredible performances.

She is unfazed in high-pressure situations, thrives on the biggest stage and likes to take responsibility on the field. Let’s take a closer look at her numbers and analyze some key facets of her game.

Positional versatility & Goal contribution

While Caicedo has the positional versatility to play across the frontline, her best comes in a wide left starting position or as a free-roaming attacking midfielder. Colombia allows her the positional flexibility to roam the width of the pitch to receive and create a threat. The right-footed winger picks up positions in the half-spaces to receive between the opposition lines to then turn and attack them.

She is incredibly mature and effective in her final action with the ball, whether it is scoring or creating. Her 0.8 direct goal contribution per 90 for Madrid this season was the fourth-highest of any player in the squad. She is able to process and solve in-game situations at an incredible pace, offering numerical and technical superiority in the final third of the pitch.

The winger is the perfect blend of technical brilliance and tactical awareness. Her technical excellence shines in her shooting technique as well. She is able to finesse her shots past the goalkeeper. She is able to quickly get the shots off with minimal backlift and her placement is great as well. The former Deportivo Cali forward has an impeccable understanding of spaces and positioning at her age.

Ball progression

One of her biggest strengths is her dribbling ability. Blessed with a feathery first touch, change of direction and close control, Caicedo is extremely good under pressure and in 1v1 situations. The youngster isn’t the quickest player but has the initial burst of acceleration to generate separation from her marker. She loves to engage the defenders and use her artistry to disrupt opposition lines.

Her 4.13 take-ons attempted per 90 is bettered only by Athenea (5.31) in the squad, while her success rate of 61.3% is third best in the team, behind Teresa and Weir. The quality, however, shines in the zones she attempts her take-ons: in the congested final third. She is able to draw challenges and is physically robust enough to withstand them. This coupled with her excellent positioning makes her a safe outlet in possession. Only Athenea (11.2) has received more progressive passes on average than the Colombia starlet (10.5) this season.

She understands the use of her body to shield the ball while carrying. This allows her to ride multiple challenges and progress the ball over long distances through a sea of defenders while retaining possession. Her 3.07 carries into the final third and her 5.33 progressive carries per 90 is the most of any player in the Las Blancas squad.

She is equally as progressive and dangerous with her passing. Her 6.67 progressive passes per 90 is the fifth most among all Madrid players, while her 1.73 passes into the penalty box from open-play is the best in the squad, highlighting how she is able to move possession into threatening areas.


Caicedo is a creative powerhouse when she is on the ball. The winger has an excellent understanding of the timing and the weight on her balls. She can cross the ball, play the cutback or thread the needle equally well, underlining the variety in her chance creation mechanism.

She is able to initiate valuable combinations (one-touch passes, flick-ons, layoffs etc.) around the penalty area to break settled blocks. This quality makes her an excellent link between the forward and the midfield lines, while her vision opens up non-existent passing lanes for her side. She is excellent at manipulating opposition defenses with her back-to-goal play when receiving and the reception on the half-turn, opening up spaces elsewhere for her teammates.

She is consistently able to generate high volume and high quality of chances. She averages 2.13 key passes per 90, only bettered by Caroline Weir (3.02) in the squad. Her 0.27 xA (expected assist) per 90 underlines how her completed passes add value to her side’s possession sequences. Her xAG (expected assisted goals) per 90, a metric that tells us the quality of the chances created by the player, of 0.29 is the second highest for Las Blancas this season.

Her 1.79 goal-creating action is the highest in Las Blancas squad and highlights her polished nature in the final action. The intricate passing, link-up play along with her technical quality on the ball, makes her a potent creative hub for any side she plays in.


The stage is set for the World Cup. Colombia are placed in group H, the group of runners-up. The Copa America runners-up will face the runners-up of Women’s Euro (Germany), Women’s Asian Cup (South Korea) and Africa Cup of nations (Morocco).

Las Chicas Superpoderosas are the third best-ranked side in the group. They have in the past upset France and managed to progress into the knockouts as one of the two third-placed sides. Despite no third-place qualification this year, Colombia will dream of another knockout stage, given their record against African sides so far.

The dream hinges on the shoulders of their talented forward line and their crown jewel, Linda Caicedo. The youngster will go into the tournament as one of the hottest prospects in women’s football and come out of it as a potential breakout star of the tournament.

Caicedo is Colombia’s crown jewel, a player who will potentially mark a before and after in the country’s history.

(All stats from Opta via Fbref, valid as of 27th June 2023)

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