OF all the teams that have progressed to the last eight of the World Cup, the only one to have done so convincingly are an attacking South American outfit in yellow.
And it’s not Brazil. It’s their quarter-final opponents, writes Philip Hadley.
Rank outsiders Colombia have stunned the world by winning all four of their games, despite a pre-tournament injury to star man Falcao that makes their achievements even more extraordinary. In the shadow of Falcao, a new star has been born.
James Rodriguez has been compared to Maradona and his electric dribbling – five goals and two assists make it easy to see why.
His first goal against Uruguay was the goal of the tournament, taking one look over his shoulder before smashing the ball at speed past the keeper from 25 yards.
But his second – a fine team effort - proved that Colombia are not just a one-man show. From front to back, Colombia are blended with a mix of youth and experience, talent and grit.
Captain Mario Yepes, 38, is the glue that holds the team together, midfielder Cuadrado is an extraordinary combination of skill and dynamism and Gutierrez and Martinez are proven goal-scorers.
Pablo Armero is the choreographer of their dance celebrations which, like their football, have lit up the tournament with pure joy.
Brazil have been well below par so far and tomorrow’s match represents their toughest challenge yet. Colombia have the solid defence, high tempo midfield and prolific attack to beat them.
Potential clashes against Germany and Argentina that would probably follow should not – and will not – worry them.
The chances of Rodriguez's efforts culminating with a victory jig in the Maracana on July 13 are rapidly increasing.
You may well pinch yourself and read this sentence again, but you better believe it.
Colombia can win the World Cup.