Colombia - Uruguay: World Cup 2014 Preview
Colombia vs Uruguay: World Cup 2014 Preview

James Rodriguez has guided Colombia's wonderful demolition of group C. Now, the magician, who has resembled Lionel Messi in Brazil, can guide Los Cafeteros to their first World Cup quarter-final.

The famous Maracana will not be host to Luis Suarez following his ban for a viscous bite on Georgio Chiellini in Uruguay's final group match which ended up with him being handed a 4 month ban from 'any football activity'.

Colombia have been given a huge boost by the exclusion of Suarez and with James Rodriguez, or 'Hames', in startling form they have to be considered favourites for the encounter on Saturday.

The two South American sides had very contrasting routes to the Maracana. Colombia shone in Group C with 3 maginificent performances including 9 goals earning them nine points.

Meanwhile, Uruguay failed to impress in their first game, what seemed would be a routine win against Costa Rica turned out to be a humiliation against a side expected to be thrashed in all three group stage games.

They came back with an unconvincing win against a lackluster English side. A late goal from Diego Godin sent Uruguay through to a win over Italy and set them up for Saturday's clash.

Fernando Muslera, Diego Lugano, Diego Godín, Walter Gargano, Egidio Arévalo Rios and Martin Cáceres are all just one yellow card away from suspension.

Falcao was ruled out of Colombia's World Cup just days before the tournament began but the Colombians haven't missed him one bit. James Rodriguez and Juan Cuadrado have been the two stand out Colombians but the entire unit has impressed the neutrals. Los Cafeteros have the highest conversion rate of the tournamen so far, 31%.

Colombia 31% Germany 24.1%
Netherlands 29.4% Chile 22.7%
Algeria 25%

Colombian captain, Mario Yepes, has spoke of the need to remain respectful of a Uruguay deprived of their starman.

"I believe that Uruguay are a difficult opponent and should be respected as we did with our group rivals," Yepes told the press in Brazil.

"It is a team that has more history than us, but we must prepare ourselves to face them in a good way because here there is no turning back."

The lack of a star striker which really drove Uruguay on in their two winning games against England and Italy. Diego Forlan is likely to come in for the suspended Suarez but Colombia remain favourites to face either Brazil or Chile in what will be an all South American quarter-final.

Likely Staring Line-Ups

Colombia (4-2-3-1): Ospina; Zuniga, Zapata, Yepes, Armero; Sánchez, Aguilar; Cuadrado, Rodríguez , Martinez; Gutiérrez.

Uruguay (Possible, 4-3-1-2): Muslera; Cácares, Godín, Giménez, Pereira; González, Rios, Rodríguez; Lodeiro; Forlán, Cavani.

If Uruguay do manage to scrape through on Saturday, it is unlikely to be by playing attractive football. The hurdle of no Suarez can be overcome but Cavani and Forlan failed to impress when they played as a pair without Suarez against Costa Rica.

With Uruguay seeming to favour a narrower midfield in recent games, Colombia are likely to exploit the lack of width by bombing down the wings with Cuadrado and Ibarbo. Rodriguez will find the compactness and toughness of Uruguay's midfield and defence a challenge but the quality he has shown so far, putting him on par with Neymar, Messi and Robben, will be enough to demonstrate his ability with a fantastic appearance including a goal or two, once again.

The intensity of Uruguay will prove a challenge for Colombia but as they face an ever-ageing side the speed of their counter attacks will be the key factor in the outcome of the result in the Maracana.

Uruguay will be looking to avenge FIFA's ban on their hero on Saturday night and although it wouldn't quite be the Maracanazo of 1950 the Uruguayan faithful would be almost as satisfied by a first victory at the Maracana in the World Cup since they surprisingly victored over Brazil in 1950.