Colombia has the face of a champion and Uruguay knows it

The Argentine coach of Uruguay highlighted the abundance of talent in every position of the team that he will face on Wednesday in the semifinals of the continental tournament.

As many agree, Bielsa said that Colombia “is a reality.”

“Colombian players have undergone a transformation because they play in the best leagues in the world and compete naturally,” said Bielsa. “So, to the freshness and predominantly creative football that has always distinguished the expressions of that country, they have now added that (many attackers) that is essential to survive in today’s football.”

Bielsa spoke the day before Uruguay eliminated Brazil on penalties in the quarter-finals.

That South American classic was disappointing due to the amount of rough play it offered, with the Celeste surviving the last quarter of an hour with 10 men after Nahitán Nández was sent off for a strong tackle on Rodrygo.

Perhaps the spectacle will become a reality on Wednesday in Charlotte, where La Celeste will face Colombia for a ticket to the final.

Today, in terms of level in South America, Colombia and Uruguay are the two teams that overshadow Argentina, the current world and continental champion.

And in this Copa América, the team whose proposal has received the most praise is Néstor Lorenzo’s Colombia.

After beating Panama 5-0 in the quarterfinals, Colombia extended its unbeaten streak to 27 matches, equaling the longest unbeaten streak in its history. That first mark was achieved between 1992 and 1994 with the team coached by Francisco Maturana. They are two victories away from winning their second continental crown, and first since 2001.

In a competition that in the build-up was presented as a duel of stars between star Lionel Messi and Vinicius Junior, James Rodríguez is so far the best player of the tournament, confirming once again that the national team is his place in the world in a career with ups and downs at club level.

The left-footed attacking midfielder has five assists, equalling Messi’s 2021 record. He also scored a penalty against Panama in the tournament.

As if that were not enough, winger Luis Díaz — who had not stood out in the first round — was another of the high notes in the quarterfinals with a goal.

“Everyone has to play for the eleven, for the team,” Lorenzo said. “That is what this team shows, the attitude it has and how everyone kills themselves for their teammates. That was worked on a lot from the beginning.”

James said bluntly that he was highly motivated for the cup after a poor season with Brazilian club Sao Paulo.

“I wanted to have a really good cup, to help my teammates to go far, today we are going all the way,” said James, who will turn 33 on Friday. “Let’s hope we can get to that grand final that we all want, we are going through a good moment too.”

Colombia is not only what James and Díaz offer.

There are also Jefferson Larma, Jhon Arias and Richard Ríos in the middle; Daniel Muñoz and Johan Mujica as the full-backs; and Jhon Córdoba in attack. When center back Jhon Lucumí was injured in the debut against Paraguay, Davinson Sánchez covered the position in attack. Lorenzo admitted that he suffers from not giving more minutes to Rafael Santos Borré, Miguel Borja, Jorge Carrascal and Santiago Arias.

“It is a team with too many forwards, and that is not common in the world of football,” Bielsa stressed. “It is a team that has more than one option for each position, and there are no major differences between the one who starts and the one who comes in.”

“All these things can be verified because they are not my opinions, they are realities,” he added.