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A future Ballon d'Or winner and an historic World Cup campaign: How England's opponents Colombia became a force in women's football

In the build-up to Colombia’s Women’s World Cup group-stage encounter with Germany, there were signs that it was going to be a special night in Sydney. Hours before kick-off, there were pockets of yellow shirts around the city, people with the national colours painted across their faces, large flags being carried around. But even when they joined together in their thousands to produce an incredible atmosphere as kick-off approached at the Allianz Stadium – roaring as the Colombia line-up was announced and singing their hearts out at the national anthem – few would have predicted what would follow.

Germany are a powerhouse in women’s football. They’ve won eight European titles and two World Cup trophies. Going into this tournament, they were one of the absolute favourites. But a wonder goal from teenage phenom Linda Caicedo and a towering header in the 97th minute from Manuela Vanegas meant they would be defeated. Colombia had pulled off one of the best results, and performances, of the World Cup so far.

"Today, we were playing as the home team,” assistant coach Angelo Marsiglia, standing in for suspended head coach Nelson Abadia, said with a beaming smile at the start of his post-match press conference. It was a result that all-but-sealed Colombia’s progression to the knockout stages – and would prove extremely costly for their opponents, too, who shockingly failed to get out of the group.

"We were competitive,” Marsiglia added. “We knew we would have an excellent attitude. We knew that against Germany, we had to be even better to get the win. If there is no intention whatsoever, there’s no attitude to compete and fight hard.

"Emotions were running high after the match. We said, ‘Let’s enjoy this but keep our feet on the ground’. We have a very mature team. We have to be happy because this is a great win for the country but the tournament still continues so we will go step by step."

After showing grit and determination to beat a stubborn Jamaica side, one that had not conceded until Catalina Usme’s winning goal in their last-16 encounter, Colombia’s next step is a pretty big one - a first ever Women’s World Cup quarter-final.

They took out Germany and now they have the chance to go one better by defeating England, the European champions and, on paper, the favourite to win the tournament. It's the biggest game in the history of the Colombia women’s national team – and it’s taken quite a lot to get here.

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