What Jose Pekerman could not do with Lionel Messi, after eight years, he’s doing it with James Rodriguez! All thanks to to Radamel Falcao’s injury, though. In 2006, Pekerman reached Germany with the Argentine disciples he had coached since their youth and his diamond Juan Riquelme. Then, a 19-year-old Messi started from the bench, got limited opportunity and was not on the field against Germany in the quarter-final that Argentina lost via tie-breaker.
Pekerman’s Colombia was Falcao-centric in the qualifiers. But with the striker unavailable due to injury, Pekerman had to look at other options and found Monaco’s 22-year old Rodriguez. Playing a bit deep behind the forwards and controlling the game, a role Riquelme played perfectly in his prime — Rodriguez has five goals from four matches, one more than Neymar, Messi and Muller.
James’ fourth goal in this World Cup — the opening strike against Uruguay on Saturday — was a delight to watch. Receiving the ball facing his own goal and just outside the Uruguay box, Rodriguez chested it, turned around — all in one swift motion — and slammed a left-footed volley that hit the crossbar and dropped inside the Uruguayan goal.
Rodriguez then tapped in for 2-0 following a series of intricate passes that had Pekerman’s football-philosophy stamped on them.
“Yes, it was a dream to score at the Maracana. And it’s a dream to play the World Cup too. I’m happy to live my dreams,” said Rodriguez at the post-match press conference. Tipped to be the next ‘Valderrama’, colombia’s new No 10 then sent a warning to hosts Brazil next-up. “Brazil have a great football history. They have the stars to go all the way . We have our stars too, but more importantly, we have nothing to lose,” added Rodriguez.