The most intriguing matchup from Tuesday’s World Cup qualifying is in Barranquilla, where Colombia look to win consecutive fixtures for the first time in qualifying. Los Cafeteros took only four points from their first four matches, and today they will host an Ecuador side that won four straight over the same stretch. That streak was broken last week, when Ecuador needed a late goal to draw level with Paraguay. Still, they hold a strong lead in the early CONMEBOL standings.
Despite their strong form, Ecuador are an underdog today on the road. They opened at +333 according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com, with Colombia valued at -120. Confidence in Colombia could come from a strong performance by James Rodriguez in their last outing. James hasn’t been the same dynamo in Spain that he is with his country, but he was instrumental in putting Colombia ahead 2-0 in Bolivia last week. Pekerman’s squad did allow a comeback from the home squad, but were saved by an Edwin Cardona injury time goal.
The Colombians have struggled to open qualifying, but a win over Ecuador would change attitudes before the players head back to their respective clubs. Colombia are currently on the wrong end of the CONMEBOL standings, but they’ve had more success as the home team. What could be a concern is the team’s fitness, after a tough game at Bolivia in the high-altitude setting. If James can’t put Colombia ahead early, Ecuador can put on a dangerous press to scrap a late goal.
Prediction: Ecuador 2-1
Find out how to watch this game in Spanish at AhoraMismo.com: