The Telegraph
Monday , June 30 , 2014
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Little-known James is toast of Cup

James Rodriguez, on Saturday

James Rodriguez is surely now the toast of the town. A relatively unknown till the World Cup began, James has taken the world by storm. Having already scored five goals, this young Colombian is out to create more magic. The first goal against Uruguay on Saturday was simply out of the world. When he chest trapped the ball, there were five Uruguayan players closing in on him. They never thought this guy would unleash a rasping left-footer on the turn that would leave the goalkeeper helpless.

It was a top-drawer strike, which you do not get to see very often in a World Cup. To me this is one of the best goals of this World Cup on the same bracket as Robin van Persie’s against Spain and Tim Cahill’s against the Netherlands or Lionel Messi’s versus Iran.

Well now my wish is to see a goal from a back-volley. It’s very difficult to execute a back-volley to perfection because you have to gauge the trajectory of the ball in a split second. And then you have to connect the ball to the T.

Not many gave Colombia a chance when Radamel Falcao was ruled out of the World Cup. But when you have someone of James’s calibre in your team, you do not miss even Falcao, the talisman. Colombia now face Brazil, who survived by the skin of their teeth earlier on Saturday.

Chile is a small country but their players had the courage and determination to match the hosts step by step. And it took a certain Julio Cesar to make sure Brazil stay alive in the tournament. Latin American goalkeepers in the World Cup are hogging the limelight. Whether it’s Cesar or Chile’s Claudio Bravo or Colombia’s David Ospina, everyone is having an outstanding Cup. Pity that Bravo who had such a fantastic match against Brazil left the pitch as a loser. Just that his teammates did not know how to convert penalties!

Ospina made some excellent saves against Uruguay and that was also one of the reasons why Colombia set up a date with Brazil. I was very impressed by Hulk’s performance. He did a lot of running and was distinctly unlucky to see his goal disallowed. I am convinced that it was not a handball, the referee and assistant referee erring big time. Strikers do receive the ball using their shoulder, and at no point, I thought Hulk used his hand.

Talking about Alexis Sanchez, he was simply outstanding. Throughout the World Cup he played brilliantly, and Saturday was no different. The goal he scored was a brilliant piece of skill. Any player would have blasted it home, but Alexis had the confidence and skill to place it nonchalantly. I would have liked to see more of Alexis in Brazil. But that would not be the case.

Before the World Cup started, we only spoke about the big names like Messi, Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema... There was hardly any space for the likes of Alexis and James. But now with their superb display of skills, these players are giving the big names a run for their money.

Lastly, I would like to talk about Diego Forlan. The star of 2010 World Cup bowed out without making much noise. He was used sparingly by the Uruguay coach and with no Luis Suarez up front, Forlan cut a forlorn figure. A sad World Cup for a player I admire!