Colombia’s World Cup preparations have been cruelly dented by news that star striker Radamel Falcao will not lead his country’s potent attacking line this summer.
An apparently rapid recovery from his original knee injury, sustained in January, appeared to have put the AS Monaco hitman back in contention for the tournament raising Colombian hopes.
Unfortunately such high hopes were short lived and National Coach Jose Pekerman has been forced to leave his best player out of Colombia’s twenty-three man squad.
With Falcao now ruled out and Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s Sweden failing to qualify this World Cup and all watching it are in danger of missing out on potentially six truly world class attacking talents as four more countries continue to sweat on the fitness of their match wining stars.
Uruguay – Luis Suarez
Uruguayan talisman Luis Suarez is also struggling with a dreaded knee injury and despite his claims to the contrary his participation in Brazil looks touch and go.
Suarez is undoubtedly world footballs current man on form; winning a number of player of the year awards, South American World Cup Qualification’s Golden Boot, The English Premier League’s Golden Boot and sharing The European Golden Shoe with Christiano Ronaldo.
His injury may be good news for English fans as Uruguay are simply nowhere near as threatening without him, as their lacklustre 1-0 home win over an understrength Northern Ireland side proved last week.
Spain – Diego Costa
Reportedly on the verge of a big money signing to Chelsea this summer, Brazilian born Costa has proven his quality this season with his twenty-seven league goals having fired Athletico Madrid to their first La Liga title since 1996.
He is the favourite to spearhead the defending champions attack in Brazil if he can recover from the hamstring injury that prematurely forced him of the pitch in Athletico’s last league match and of course saw him depart Champions League Final after only nine minutes.
France – Franck Ribery
If the French are to have any impact on this World Cup then their gifted playmaker Franck Ribery will be expected to work his magic on the world stage.
A persistent niggling back injury has seen the Ballon d’Or candidate make only eighteen starts in the Bundesliga for champions Bayern Munich this season and he is yet to play in either of France’s warm up games against Norway and Paraguay so far.
Despite his overall participation remaining in doubt French coach Didier Deschamps has included Ribery in his final squad playing down the on-going questions over his star man’s fitness.
Portugal – Christiano Ronaldo
A World Cup without the best player in the world seems an unthinkable proposition but a thigh injury continues to derail the Portuguese captain’s tournament preparations with him missing out on their only warm up friendly so far.
That 0-0 draw at home to Greece is evidence of just how important Ronaldo is to his country and how different a prospect they are with him in attack.
I can personally testify to his well renowned international effectiveness having witnessed him single-handedly turn over my beloved Northern Ireland side who before Ronaldo’s heroic fifteen minute second half hatrick had deservedly lead 2-1 at Windsor Park.
In his prime at twenty-nine Ronaldo is in the form of his life and this may be his best chance of making the kind of history with his country at a World Cup that could see him deservedly immortalised as the greatest player of all time.