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Colombia vs Panama: David vs Goliath quarter-final tie in Arizona

Colombia’s quest to conquer the Copa America continues with a quarter-final tie against North American invitees Panama at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

Although a 1-1 draw against record-time world champions Brazil knocked Los Cafeteros from the national-record run of ten consecutive victories, Nestor Lozano’s side progressed into the knockout stage as Group D winners.

Barcelona winger Raphinha gave the Selecao an early lead, but Crystal Palace’s Daniel Munoz notched an equaliser in first-half stoppage time, giving Colombia a well-deserved point.

Lozano’s team mustered an xG of 1.33 goals compared to Brazil’s 0.22, dominating the nine-time continental champions to confirm their tag as one of the tournament favourites.

Paraguay and Costa Rica were no match for the high-flying Colombians across the opening two rounds, paving the way for the 2001 victors’ sixth consecutive Copa America quarter-final appearance.

Panama’s second-ever Copa America foray was off to a dismal start as Uruguay thrashed them 3-1 in their opening Group C fixture.

However, Los Canalores pounced on numerical advantage to beat the United States 2-1 before demolishing Bolivia 3-1 en route to their maiden knockout qualification.

Inspired by a rich vein of form, Thomas Christiansen’s side will be out to upset the odds in Glendale and post their first triumph against Colombia since 2005.


Incredible run

If there was a time for Colombia to lift the most prestigious title in South America, it’s now.

Unbeaten in 26 consecutive matches (W20, D6), they last lost in February 2022, suggesting a win against below-par Panama should be a mere formality.

They’ve comfortably dispatched the Panamians in the last two encounters between the teams by a combined score of 7-0, including a 4-0 thumping in their most recent duel in 2019.

Given Colombia’s free-scoring form, another emphatic scoreline could be on the cards.

They’ve netted at least three goals in four of their last six outings, with Liverpool star forward Luis Diaz soaking up the limelight as the leader of South America’s most exciting frontline.

Colombia have found the back of the net before half-time in six successive games, highlighting the potential for a quick-fire start.

The Canal Men have a mountain to climb

You’d think that reaching the Copa America quarter-finals would already be a standout achievement for Panama.

But Los Canaleros are no longer North America’s whipping boys, most recently evidenced by their formidable run to the 2023 CONCACAF Gold Cup final.

Mexico got the better of them, courtesy of Santiago Gimenez’s last-gasp winner, yet an impressive tournament helped them move up the FIFA rankings.

Since Christiansen took charge of Panama in 2020, they’ve climbed nearly 40 places, underscoring the Danish manager’s outstanding work in Latin America.

Whether they’re out of their depth here remains to be seen.

However, after collecting an impressive ten wins in their last 15 internationals (D1, L4), they seem more than capable of pulling off an upset in Glendale.

Colombia vs Panama potential line-ups

Colombia (4-3-3): Camilo Vargas; Daniel Munoz, Davinson Sanchez, Carlos Cuesta, Johan Mojica; Richard Rios, Mateus Uribe, Jhon Arias; James Rodriguez, Jhon Cordoba, Luis Diaz.

Panama (5-4-1): Orlando Mosquera; Michael Murillo, Edgardo Farina, Jose Cordoba, Carlos Harvey, Eric Davis; Cesar Blackman, Cristian Martinez, Jovani Welch, Yoel Barcenas; Jose Fajardo.

Prediction

With all due respect to Panama’s effort in the group stages, this should be the end of the road for them.

Colombia are arguably the most in-form team in the world, and anything other than a clear-cut win for Los Cafeteros would be an upset.

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