Colombia World Cup Roster 2014: Updates on 23-Man Squad, Starting 11 Projections

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistOctober 25, 2013

Colombia World Cup Roster 2014: Updates on 23-Man Squad, Starting 11 Projections

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    After narrowly missing out on the last three editions of the World Cup, Colombia was able to successfully navigate CONMEBOL qualifying to earn a trip to Brazil next summer. The berth was the reward after four years of progress.

    Led by superstar striker Radamel Falcao and an experienced back line, the Cafeteros finished second in the highly competitive nine-team group with 30 points from 16 matches. They allowed the fewest goals (13) and fell just two points shy of Argentina for the top spot.

    Not only did the resurgence allow Colombia to climb the FIFA rankings, where it currently sits inside the top five in the world, but the strong form should have also helped build confidence looking toward the World Cup—the sport's marquee international showcase.

    In November, the Cafeteros are scheduled for a couple measuring-stick friendlies. Away matches against Belgium and the Netherlands, fellow Top 10 teams, should allow Colombia to see where it stands and help manager Jose Pekerman start forming the World Cup roster.

    Without further ado, let's check out some of the latest news involving the Colombian national team and make some early projections. Keep checking back in the coming months for news updates as the World Cup approaches.

Colombia Earns Pot 1 Spot for World Cup Draw

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    Being in Pot 1 for the World Cup draw is a major advantage. Colombia earned the opportunity to headline a group due to its strong play in recent years, which means the Cafeteros get to avoid many of the sport's superpowers in the opening stage.

    FIFA announced seven of the eight entries into Pot 1 have been secured, with Uruguay getting the final one if it wins a playoff with Jordan. Colombia joins Brazil, Spain and Germany in the star-studded group of contenders:

    The distribution of teams in Pot 1 for the World Cup Final Draw on 6 December is as follows: Brazil, together with Spain, Germany, Argentina, Colombia, Belgium and Switzerland are definitely in Pot 1. If Uruguay win the intercontinental play-off against Jordan, they will also go into the first pot. However, if Jordan win, the decimal points difference between the Netherlands (1135.95) and Italy (1135.61) will see the Dutch take the last place in Pot 1.

    Avoiding potential group-stage meetings with the likes of Brazil and Spain—which met in this year's Confederations Cup final—is an immediate boost to Colombian hopes of making a deep run. It illustrates the impact of getting into Pot 1.

    Looking ahead, Colombia can now hope for some luck in the draw, which is slated for early December. Given the overall strength of their squad, the Cafeteros will likely be expected to advance regardless of the outcome, but a good draw could make their journey to the knockout rounds a lot easier.

Projected Starting XI

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    Jose Pekerman will need to use every opportunity between now and next summer to figure out his best starting lineup. Players like Fredy Guarin and Cristian Zapata have often displayed good form in Europe and could be major assets in Brazil but need to prove it for Colombia in the coming months.

    Other decisions for him to ponder include which striker to start alongside Radamel Falcao and whether to keep the veteran center-back duo of Mario Yepes and Luis Perea together to finish the cycle. So the work is not done, even though qualification is secure.

    With that in mind, here's an early projection for the starting XI next summer, followed by other players who will probably come under consideration.

    Projected Starting Lineup

    Formation: 4-4-2

    GK: David Ospina

    DF: Juan Zuniga

    DF: Mario Yepes

    DF: Luis Perea

    DF: Pablo Armero

    MF: Juan Quintero

    MF: Carlos Sanchez

    MF: Fredy Guarin

    MF: James Rodriguez

    ST: Radamel Falcao

    ST: Teofilo Gutierrez

    Other Likely Squad Members

    GK: Camilo Vargas

    DF: Stefan Medina, Cristian Zapata, Aquivaldo Mosquera

    MF: Abel Aguilar, Juan Cuadrado, Macnelly Torres

    FW: Jackson Martinez, Carlos Quintero

    More Possible Squad Members

    GK: Faryd Mondragon

    DF: Santiago Arias, Gilberto García, Hector Quinones, Carlos Valdes, Eder Balanta

    MF: Elkin Soto, Aldo Ramirez, Edwin Valencia, Alexander Mejia, Juan Quintero

    FW: Dorlan Pabon, Carlos Bacca, Luis Muriel