How they qualified
Colombia began the South American qualifiers well enough, collecting four points from their first two games before defeat at home to Argentina in their third outing spelled the end of Leonel Alvarez’s reign as coach. The arrival of Jose Nestor Pekerman as his replacement represented a turning point for Los Cafeteros in their journey to Brazil 2014, with the Argentinian coach overseeing a run of five wins in their next six games, a sequence that put them firmly on course for the finals.

Colombia’s convincing home form at their Barranquilla citadel was central to their successful campaign, as was the balance between attack and defence and their cutting edge up front. No side in the group let in fewer goals than their 13 and only two of their continental rivals scored more than their 27. After clinching a trip to their first world finals since France 1998 on the penultimate matchday, the Colombians eventually took second place, their highest ever finish since the introduction of the current qualifying system.

FIFA World Cup finals history
With the exception of Italy 1990, when the golden generation that included Rene Higuita and Carlos Valderrama slipped up against unfancied Cameroon in the Round of 16, Colombia have never made it past the group stage at the FIFA World Cup. In fact, an analysis of the other three campaigns reveals a disappointing combined record of six defeats, one draw and just two wins at the tournament.

The key players
With his sparkling form at Monaco, the prolific Falcao is now generally regarded as Colombia’s main attacking threat. The 25-year-old predator came to prominence at River Plate, first in the youth team and then with the senior side, before moving to Europe in 2009 where he won two Leagues, two Cups, three Super Cups and the UEFA Europa League with Porto, and then added another UEFA Europa League and European Super Cup with Atletico Madrid. As well as Falcao, the Colombians can also count on the experience of defensive duo Mario Yepes and Luis Perea at the back, as well as the creativity of attacking midfielder James Rodriguez and the goalscoring instinct of Teo Gutierrez, a lethal partner for Falcao up front.

Coach: Jose Pekerman
Best performances in a FIFA competition: FIFA U-20 World Cup UAE 2003 (Third place), FIFA World Cup Italy 1990 (Round of 16)
Former stars: Rene Higuita, Carlos Valderrama, Faustino Asprilla