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Colombia were impressive in qualifying and boast a large array of exciting players. Phil Kitromilides takes a look at their chances for progression in Brazil this summer

Hopes are understandably high for Colombia in their first World Cup since 1998, with the nation's optimism stemming from the fact that Los Cafeteros have one of their most talented squads in quite some time.

Another factor in their favour is that the tournament takes place in neighbouring Brazil - especially with the trend of South American winners when the tournament is held in continent - with that perhaps being a key reason why Colombia are ahead of the likes of 2010 runners up Holland and 2006 winners Italy in the betting, priced as they are at 22/1 (23.00) with William Hill.

A hugely impressive qualifying campaign saw them finish behind Argentina, with their home form particularly strong.

It is worth noting, however, that Colombia play their home games in the stifling humidity of the Carribean coastal city of Barranquilla, and while it is not as much a geographical advantage as Bolivia hosting games at altitude in La Paz, it has certainly helped foster an impressive record; Colombia are unbeaten on home soil for three years. 

Having been drawn with Greece, Japan and Ivory Coast in Group C, the South Americans are the clear favorites to progress and the price of 4/5 (1.80) for them to top the group will be of interest to plenty of punters given the talent pool they have to pick from.

Even more so, should Radamel Falcao complete his return from injury and take his place in the starting line up for their opening game against Greece on 14th June.

The Monaco striker has been in a race to recover from a serious injury and while he is unlikely to
have regained full fitness, the inclusion of the talismanic in the squad shows just how important his presence is for morale.

Even without Falacao, the side possesses some excellent forwards, with Carlos Bacca having led Sevilla to Europa League glory netting 21 goals in all competitions, and Jackson Martinez continuing his phenomenal scoring rate at Porto.

Martinez found the back of the net 29 times in the season just ended and a move to a bigger club beckons, especially if he can shine on the biggest stage of all. Martinez and Falcao are offered at 4/1 (5.00) each to be Colombia's top scorers while Bacca can be backed at 8/1 (9.00).

It is safe to say then, that Colombia's traditional problem of scoring goals has been rectified in the last couple of years with the explosion of attacking talent, yet at the back they have shown they can keep things tight, managing clean sheets in recent friendlies against Belgium and Holland respectively.

Their backline though could be politely described as ageing with the likes of 38-year-old Mario Yepes and 35-year-old Luis Perea lacking the pace they once possessed.

Nevertheless, Colombia are a technically gifted side, full of confidence and playing in familiar surroundings. They will have a vociferous and healthy number of supporters backing them and at 22/1 (23.00) there is plenty of value for punters to play with.

Colombia's World Cup Squad - 25/1 with William Hill
Goalkeepers Defence Midfield Attack
David Ospina Mario Yepes Fredy Guarin Radamel Falcao
Faryd Mondragon Cristian Zapata Juan Cuadrado Luis Fernando Muriel
Camilo Vargas Pablo Armero Victor Ibarbo Jackson Martinez
  Camilo Zuniga James Rodriguez Carlos Bacca
  Aquivaldo Mosquera Abel Aguilar Adrian Ramos
  Santiago Arias Fernando Quintero Teofilo Gutierrez
  Luis Amaranto Perea Carlos Sanchez  
  Eder Alvarez Balanta Macnelly Torres  
  Carlos Valdes Aldo Leao Ramirez  
    Edwin Valencia  
    Alexander Mejia  
    Elkin Soto  

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Phil Kitromilides is a sports journalist and TV presenter in Madrid

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