Quito, Ecuador – The Colombian national soccer team is preparing for a crucial World Cup qualifying match against Ecuador on Tuesday, but injury concerns surround two key players.
James Rodriguez and Santiago Arias do separate training in Medellin
Star midfielder James Rodriguez and defender Santiago Arias did modified training sessions away from the main group on Friday in Medellin, where Colombia is training before traveling to face Ecuador in Quito.
According to reports, while the rest of the team that started in the 2-2 draw against Uruguay last week trained normally, Rodriguez and Arias worked separately. This has sparked speculation over their availability for Tuesday’s match at the high-altitude Estadio Rodrigo Paz Delgado.
The coach’s staff is reportedly managing the players’ workloads carefully. Rodriguez, playing for Sao Paulo in Brazil, and Arias, of Spanish club Granada, both started against Uruguay in Barranquilla.
The decision to train in Guarne over Bogota was based on medical advice
Colombia chose to prepare in Medellin and Guarne rather than at the Colombian Football Federation’s high-altitude facility in Bogota. Federation President Ramon Jesurun said the decision was based on medical advice to help the team acclimatize to the conditions in Quito gradually.
Bogota’s elevation of 2,625 meters is similar to Quito’s 2,850 meters. But doctors recommended going from near sea level in Barranquilla first to Medellin’s 1,495 meters, then Envigado’s 1,675 meters, before training at Guarne’s 2,150 meters.
On Monday, Colombia will charter directly to Quito. Experts say this gradual ascent over more days is optimal compared to spending three weeks training in Bogota.
Ecuador poses a threat on multiple fronts
Beyond altitude, Colombia faces a strong Ecuador team that is undefeated in qualifying so far.
Ecuador boasts veteran leadership from players like all-time leading scorer Enner Valencia while also integrating exciting young talents like Moises Caicedo, Kendry Paez, and Piero Hincapie.
Their combination of experience and youth delivered impressive wins over Uruguay and Bolivia. Ecuador also has speed on the flanks and physicality through the spine of the team.
Colombia seeks first win under new coach Lorenzo
After opening qualifying with a draw, Colombia is aiming to secure its first victory under new manager Nestor Lorenzo in a difficult away environment.
Lorenzo has difficult decisions to make regarding his starting lineup in Quito, especially amid injury concerns. But earning three points would put Colombia level with Ecuador on five points after four matches.