Quality of Cuadrado can coast Colombia though WC group
Explosive winger Juan Guillermo Cuadrado is expected to take his club form this season into the World Cup, and shine in the absence of star striker Radamel Falcao for Colombia, who are 33/1 to win the tournament.
The 26-year-old, who hails from the northern municipality of Necocli – most famous for its beaches and bananas – returns to continent where he made a name for himself and started his professional career, in search of glory.
Cuadrado currently turns out for Serie A side Fiorentina, and his 11 goals (15 in all competitions) and five assists in 32 league games helped his side to a fourth place finish, ahead of the likes of Milan giants AC and Inter. It was his second half of the campaign that was most impressive, scoring nine in his last 15, and he goes into the World Cup finals with much momentum.
His performances have already attracted reported suitors in the likes of European heavyweights Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Juventus this summer.
The former are said to be particularly interested in Cuadrado to replace ageing Brazilian Dani Alves – who has been linked with a move away from the Nou Camp – at wing back. While the Colombian has been utilised further up the pitch in recent years, he is more than adept to playing in defence, and has done so on occasion, especially earlier in his career.
Cuadrado is highly accomplished in a number of attributes, including pace, dribbling, skill, crossing and obviously the ability to score, and he can link up well with Falcao’s Monaco clubmate James Rodriguez and a replacement frontman.
With 28 caps now to his name, he has become a crucial member under Argentine manager Jose Pekerman and scored the second goal in the most recent friendly with Jordan, in a 3-0 victory.
Despite the loss of Falcao, Cuadrado’s Colombia are still heavy favourites both to top their Group C – containing the Ivory Coast, Japan and Greece – at evens, and odds-on to qualify for the knockout rounds at 1/3.