The Colombian and Venezuelan national soccer teams faced each other on Friday for the first time since Sep.10, 2019 after months without playing as international squads due to the pandemic. It was the first match in the first round of qualifiers for the 2022 Qatar World Cup, originally scheduled to begin in March of this year.
Colombia beat Venezuela 3-0 in the Metropolitan Stadium in Barranquilla. Friday’s win puts Colombia in second place in the CONMEBOL World Cup standings, where Brazil currently holds first place. Venezuela now occupies the ninth position in the standings.
Here’s the good, the bad and the ugly of these teams’ first round of World Cup qualifiers.
After only 12 minutes, Colombia’s right back, Santiago Arias, suffered a horrific ankle injury. Currently on-loan to Bayer Leverkusen from Atletico Madrid, Arias approached Darwin Machis for a sliding recovery of the ball. Machis landed awkwardly on the right back.
Arias’ mangled ankle could be seen. He laid down on the pitch for several minutes, comforted by his teammates, until he was stretchered off the pitch.
An injury like this could keep Arias off the field until early or mid-2021.
WARNING: Graphic content
Horrific injury for Colombia’s Santiago Arias as his foot is left pointing outwards in their World Cup qualifier against Venezuela.
Darwin Machis, the Venezuela winger who made the challenge, was left in tears.pic.twitter.com/MOVntHAWmu
— Sam Street (@samstreetwrites) October 10, 2020
The second half was uneventful. Colombia had done its job for the night, and they began subbing players. Venezuela struggled to generate plays and defend the goal. Venezuela’s defense seemed to be out of place often, leaving open spaces for Colombia to settle in and score.
With Colombia causing some fouls and Venezuela receiving yellow cards, this game was as stressful as it usually gets for this great South American rivalry. There were three yellow cards given out in total, all to Venezuela.
This match leaves Venezuela in the ninth position for the qualifiers for the 2022 Qatar World Cup. Winning the inaugural qualifying game plays an important role for national teams, and this loss could be significantly impactful for the Vinotintos as they continue on the road to Qatar, particularly considering they lost by three goals. Their defensive game needs to improve, leave fewer open spaces and make far fewer defensive mistakes.
Success for national teams in qualifiers is crucial since players are not consistently playing together. Venezuela will have to improve its game to beat Paraguay on Tuesday in Merida, Venezuela.
Colombia was dynamic and quick with its plays. Colombia scored three goals in the first half by Duvan Zapata and Luis Fernando Muriel.
The first half for the tricolor was full of chances, passes and runs. Zapata, from Atalanta, scored a goal within 16 minutes, just to have Muriel, Zapata’s teammate at the Italian club, make one just two minutes later and only to do it again moments before the first half whistle blew.
Colombia played swiftly down the sidelines, taking advantage of open spaces in Venezuela’s defensive line and midfield. It only took Colombia 45 minutes to establish its place in the qualifiers, showing why Venezuela is the only South American country that has yet to step into the most prestigious soccer event ever.
Throughout the game, Colombia clearly had the possession of the ball over Venezuela.
Colombia’s lineup has two key advantages, the first being familiarity. A lot of Colombian players are together in their clubs, which helps the team’s overall flow and game. The second is the players’ performances at their clubs. James Rodriguez has been very active and incredibly successful over at Everton FC, with three goals and two assists in only four appearances. Duvan Zapata is the fourth player in assists in the Italian Serie A.
Aside from scoring, Colombia played a balanced game and remained strong in the midfield and defensive line. The cafeteros will need to dominate the game equally against Chile tomorrow at the National Stadium Julio Martinez Pradanos at 8:30 p.m. ET. Venezuela will face Paraguay in Merida at 6 p.m. ET.