Soccer powerhouse Brazil, who rank first in FIFA’s team rankings, will travel to Colombia this afternoon for a showdown that matches the two top teams in the group, and two teams that faced off in the 2014 World Cup, a controversial game in which Brazil won 2-1.
Since that World Cup, Brazil has shown why they are the best team in soccer, leading the CONMEBOL group with an astounding 36 points and 37 goals. Those 37 goals are more than double that of second place Colombia, who have scored 18 in qualifying.
While Brazil has already qualified for the World Cup, Colombia needs this game badly. Though they are currently second place in the group, they remain only 1 point ahead of rival Uruguay and 2 points ahead of Chile and Argentina. Should Colombia lose, they could conceivably fall to 5th place in the group by the end of the evening. A win puts the team in a great position to qualify for Russia in 2018.
Colombia’s squad will be boosted by the return of team captain James Rodriguez, who sat out the last qualifier with a muscle strain. Brazil, on the other hand, will be without Marcelo, who was suspended after landing another yellow card, and Joao Miranda, who was injured in the team’s victory over Ecuador. The Colombians will wear their classic yellow uniforms in today’s game, while Brazil uses their blue away uniforms.
Brazilian head coach Adenor Bacchi, or Tite as he called, has dramatically changed the team’s fortunes since taking the helm as coach. The team’s performance is even more incredible in the context of the group in which they play, which consists of 4 of the world’s top 8 teams.
Colombia has not defeated the Selecao since Copa America in 1991 in Chile. Today’s game will be played in the Colombian coastal city of Barranquilla, which is expected to be 94 degrees at game time with 80% humidity and the chance of showers.