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What struck me while compiling this list was how little the Colombian media seemed to have to say directly about Canada. It's natural for journalists to focus on the national team they cover, but beyond a few throwaway lines in each report there wasn't much commentary or analysis of the opposition in either the friendly against Canada or the earlier one against El Salvador. In any event, the praise was light, and my Spanish isn't good enough to detect whether any of it was backhanded. If you're looking for a tweet-lengthy takeaway: Canada can't really play the going forward bit of soccer that well, but is good at defence and better than El Salvador. So if we're being honest, they arrived in 90 minutes at roughly the same conclusion those who follow the team closely have known all along. El Tiempo, probably the most well-known newspaper in the country. One of the paper's writers noted that "....the 5-4-1 used by Canada allowed tactics to mask its lack of technical ability." "[Colombia] had control of the ball, but far from Canada's goal, a team that literally piled itself up 40 meters from its end to prevent soccer being played. And thus Colombia had barely any options on goal from open play in the first 45 minutes." El Spectador "Canada was a rival more demanding than El Salvador. A team that was well-ordered at the back and that provided few spaces to Colombia while demanding the maximum from its attackers." El Deportivo "The Reds displayed a grand defensive posture, and provided a very important challenge to the Colombian attack, which included its best players. Even then, there were few clear chances." ESPN Deportes "Colombia defeated a sturdy Canada that has started to take the shape of Spanish coach Benito Floro in a very tactical friendly that left few details to chance in the Red Bull Arena."
The 5-0 thrashing Canada suffered at the hands of Argentina in Buenos Aires in the spring of 2010 comes to mind. Oooh! How about repressed flashbacks to that 8-1 loss to Honduras? It’s frightening to ponder what Rademal Falcao and James Rodriguez may do to David Edgar and Doneil Henry over the course of 90 minutes. So sure, we could all sit here and project all manner of doom and destruction. Or we could cautiously hope (perhaps with the assistance of recreational narcotics) things turn out not totally horrible for Canada. The Colombian press sees this roster as a retweaking of the successful World Cup side. Pending injuries, there are five new faces added to the mix. According to this piece in El Tiempo, Pekerman’s two primary objectives are finding a replacement for legendary 38-year-old defender Mario Yepes and scaring out different options when attacking down the flanks. Perhaps that’s why the Colombian FA chose relatively weak opponents. Target practice. Hell, it's still more dignified reasoning from a Canadian perspective than facing Argentina for the sole purpose of providing a guaranteed walkover for the World Cup send-off party. Speaking ahead of the El Salvador match, Pekerman confirms he plans to provide playing time to as many players as possible, and that both Falcao and Martinez are carrying minor injuries. Okay, so that's slightly less terrifying. Two domestic-based midfielders -- Yimmi Chará of Tolima and Edwin Cardona of Nacional -- arrive for the first time to the Colombian senior side and its likely Pekerman will give them a run out in the wider midfield roles. Goalkeeper Camilo Vargas of Independiente Santa Fe will also earn his first minutes in the national team, another lineup choice Canadian supporters could theoretically be optimistic about. Pekerman wants to experiment. Beyond official Fifa dates in November and next March this might be his only other time to truly do so before the 2015 Copa America. He'll test some fresh-faced midfielders or central defenders, as well as an internationally green ‘keeper. Falcao, Rodrieguez and Jackson Martinez probably won't play the full match and there's going to be all sorts of substitutions by both sides. And we'll know a bit more about what to expect after Colombia's match versus El Salvador Friday evening. So there you go, it might not be so bad. Who are we kidding? Canada is doomed. Let's just hope it's not one of the all-time bad ones.