James Rodríguez’s Revival As Colombian Football’s Creative Maestro

James Rodríguez found himself at a crossroads in his footballing journey in April. Departing from Olympiacos before the Greek season concluded, the Colombian midfielder sought an opportunity to regain rhythm and consistency. This quest led him to the welcoming doors of Brazilian football giants Sao Paulo, offering the chance to resurrect his career and rekindle his international ambitions with the Colombian national team.

James Rodríguez’s Continued Impact

However, this year, the 2023 World Cup qualifiers were not James Rodríguez’s first foray with the Colombian national squad. In late March, he graced the field in a friendly against South Korea in Ulsan, even netting Colombia’s opening goal in a remarkable comeback from a 2-0 deficit.

With six qualifiers played, Colombia is the sole unbeaten team on the path to the 2026 World Cup. This positive streak spans the era of Néstor Lorenzo. During this period, Colombia has accumulated 11 victories and 5 draws. James Rodríguez has constantly been on the field in every official match.

Key Role in Starting Lineup

The creative midfielder, at times operating as the most advanced player for Colombia with Rafael Santos Borré deployed on the flank, secured a spot in the starting lineup for 4 out of the 6 qualifiers. He not only opened the scoring in the 2-2 draw against Uruguay in Barranquilla but also provided crucial assists for goals by Matheus Uribe in the same game and Luis Díaz in the historic victory over Brazil at home.

In the early stages of the qualifiers, which currently have Colombia positioned third with 12 points, just 3 points behind leaders Argentina, James Rodríguez played a direct role in a goal every 127.3 minutes—a testament to his renowned ability to link up play and deliver precise passes. Throughout these matches, he maintained an impressive passing accuracy of 89%.

During these qualifiers, James Rodríguez showcased his prowess. He played 6 games, starting in 4, and accumulated 382 minutes on the field. His contributions extended beyond his presence, as he scored a crucial goal and provided 2 assists during the qualifiers.

Versatility and Control

James Rodríguez’s impact was not limited to goal-scoring and assists. He was pivotal in the team’s overall performance, directly involved in a goal every 127.3 minutes. His ability to control the midfield was evident, with an average of 55.3 touches per game and 3.2 key passes, showcasing his playmaking skills. Moreover, his passing accuracy was 89%, highlighting his effective delivery of the ball.

His influence stretched across various aspects of the game, as he demonstrated high accuracy in both halves of the field. His passing accuracy reached 93% in his half, ensuring secure transitions from defense to attack. In the opponent’s half, he maintained an accuracy rate of 82%, proving his ability to create opportunities in advanced positions. Additionally, his accuracy in long passes reached 90%, a testament to his vision and execution of intricate plays. He also contributed defensively, recovering an average of 3.8 balls per game, displaying his commitment to the game’s attacking and defensive aspects.

Recognition in Conmebol’s Ideal XI

After each doubleheader in the World Cup qualifiers, Conmebol publishes the ideal XI for the two matchdays, and James Rodríguez secured a spot in two of the three teams released thus far. Initially, he was the lone Colombian representative in the XI following matchdays 3 and 4.

Subsequently, during matchdays 5 and 6, Colombia and Uruguay dominated, contributing four players to the ideal XI. Colombia’s victories against Brazil and Paraguay earned them places for Yerry Mina (a surprising inclusion), Kevin Castaño, Luis Díaz, and James Rodríguez in the esteemed lineup.

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