Reinaldo Rueda does not stay up late the figure of number 10 in the Colombian National Team. So, bluntly. If he can count on them, that’s fine, but when he hasn’t had the luxury of having calls without a creative reference. It is not a minor fact for the dozens of critics who accuse him of not playing modern football.
Now the DT has options, but there are so many shortcomings and urgencies that it is not clear if he will use them or not, if he sees them as a solution or as a straitjacket. He thought of men like James Rodríguez when he was healthy, Juan Fernando Quintero when he had a friendly and even Yaser Asprilla even though he is only 18 years old. But in calls like the triple date against Brazil, Ecuador and Uruguay, he simply did not call any of them.
There are already 7 games without a goal and that gives a vote of confidence to the links, since one of the moles was the lack of partners for definitive players in attack like Luis Díaz, the current benchmark of the national attack.
The doubt goes through the moment of each one of the candidates. Some have little competition but a long way to go, others have been taking shape since January, in the bitter defeats against Peru and Argentina, and some are excited about approaching a bigger team, even when they don’t have many options.
Everything will add up when facing Bolivia (March 24) and Venezuela (29), when the only option is to add 6 points and wait for the miracle of the other results.
Who is available? We review the options:
There is always the question of whether or not he is injured as his medical history is protected by a strict veil of silence. He missed the last two Qatar Stars League matches for some unconfirmed reason, though a fan account in English and Spanish claims he was a minor muscle problem. The truth is that if he reaches the call-up he will have a month of inactivity, which is both good and bad: good because he arrives rested after having saved relegation at his club, bad because it has always been the complaint of his detractors that he arrives even without having the same merits as others. He has 5 matches since the heavy defeats against Peru and Argentina.
James contributes a pass and a mid-distance shot, he has in his favor a penalty goal that was definitive in the past on the way to the 2018 World Cup in Russia, but the physical issue is always an unknown.
Juan Fernando Quintero
He was in the call for the penultimate day of the Qualifiers but could not arrive due to a blow suffered, precisely with the Colombian National Team, in the friendly against Honduras.
The good thing is that on his return to River Plate he fully recovered and also gained continuity: he has seven games and four goals in official matches. The best thing is that he has been part of that tricolor team for many years (he has been in two World Cups), that he has experience and knowledge, he has goals and passes goals and he is healthy, which is already a gain. The question is always how much depth he has to endure full games, one of the reasons why in River he is more of an alternative than anything else.
England’s Watford paid 3 million euros for this player, on loan in Envigado, who is only 18 years old and could fulfill his second call to the senior team. He was the great in the last call and even took advantage of a few minutes in the last loss against Peru. Since that sad day he has played three games without goals. He has more goals than passes and also youth for the replacement in the national team.
It may be that the number 10 is not the one that most identifies him, but he is a trusted man of Rueda for the mission of connecting the midfield with the attack. Since those defeats against Peru and Argentina, in which he was called up, he played 3 games and scored two goals with Portland of the MLS. At 30 years old, he has the experience, the filtered pass and the shot on goal. But he has been another victim of the team’s malfunction in the Qualifiers.
He is only 21 years old but has so much experience, before in Deportes Tolima and now in Gremio de Brasil, that he seems like a veteran. He played 30 games in Gremio since August 2021, shortly after playing the Copa América in Brazil, the last time Rueda called him up. He scored four goals, the last Olympic, a real gem. Another alternative for closed defenses like the one anticipated in Bolivia and with a generational change in attack, a necessity for Colombia.
Thinking about the 20-year-old Millonarios player has a logic similar to that of Yaser Asprilla: a young man who is good to bring closer to the senior national team, who is the replacement for the future and who, in an emergency, has the impetus and the courage of youth that could solve a crisis situation, because he has a pass and a goal. He has 8 league games, a goal and an assist.