Ahead of tonight’s mouthwatering World Cup quarter-final between Brazil and Columbia, Sport-locker.net caught up with Columbia’s wing wizard Juan Cuadrado…
Talk to us about Colombia’s performances so far. Were you expecting the team to play this well?
It’s fair to say that we’ve started very well and some of the team performances have been brilliant. It hasn’t come as a surprise to the squad though as we know how much quality we have. We also knew we had to start strongly as there were some very good teams in our group. The 3-0 win over Greece really gave us confidence and we haven’t looked back. The next match will be the toughest yet. Brazil at home doesn’t get any bigger than that and they will want to perform in front of their fans.
Let’s jump straight to the Brazil game. Are you confident?
Based on our performances so far we definitely should be. We’ve put in some of the best performances of the World Cup so far so we don’t fear anyone. Obviously Brazil are a really good team but they will be under a huge amount of pressure. Their fans are expecting nothing other than a win so we need to keep them quiet.
Brazil are a team full of top players. Who do you think is their biggest threat?
It might surprise people but I would have to say Oscar. He is a fantastic footballer. He’s so clever with the ball and really sets the tempo of the game for Brazil. He’s also very difficult to mark as he finds the space between defence and midfield so we are going to have to keep a close eye on him! Brazil’s defenders, especially Dani Alves and Marcelo, also love to get forward and we will need to limit their opportunities. That will be an important role for me.
You are currently leading the table for most assists. What has been the key to this?
Other players are finishing off the chances I create! But seriously, it’s been about the team performing well because my teammates are giving me opportunities to set players up and luckily we are taking these chances when they come along. I’m just glad that I am performing well and helping the team win matches. Obviously it helps having someone like James Rodriguez in the team because he is such a brilliant player. We all know the quality he has and I’m so glad for him he’s showing the whole world what he can do.
Talking about scoring, it must have been a dream come true to score against Japan?
It was a fantastic feeling! It was also a really important goal as it gave us the lead against Japan. I’ve dreamt about scoring in a World Cup since I was a little boy so to actually do it is amazing. Hopefully I’ve got a couple more goals left in me for later in the tournament.
How did you feel Colombia performed against Uruguay in the last game?
It was a great team performance and we definitely deserved to win the match. James Rodriguez deserved to win because of that goal alone! He obviously got all the headlines the next day and rightly so but the whole team played very well. We discussed beforehand how we were going to play and I thought we executed our game plan almost perfectly. Credit has to go to the coaches as we knew exactly what we had to do.
You talk about the team performing well. How well are you bonding as a squad?
It’s been a really good few weeks and the atmosphere at training has been great. We knew that we could have a strong World Cup and all the hard work is starting to show. Most players never get the opportunity to play in a World Cup so as a group we want to make the most of it and not have any regrets. Hopefully we can keep going and create history.
How important has Jose Pekerman’s experience been?
He’s a top manager and he knows how to get the most out of his players. Some people forget that this is the first time Colombia have qualified for the World Cup in 16 years and this was down to him. He has been very good with the players and is making sure we don’t get too carried away. We have won four out of four games but this will mean nothing if we lose against Brazil.