April 20, 2014

Michelle Kaufman: Colombian soccer fans concerned about Radamel Falcao

Of all the questions heading into the World Cup this summer, the one that has Colombian fans fretting is: Will Radamel Falcao be ready? Without him, “Los Cafeteros,” as Colombia’s team is known, are significantly decaffeinated.

Of all the questions heading into the World Cup this summer, the one that has Colombian fans fretting is: Will Radamel Falcao be ready? Without him, “ Los Cafeteros,” as Colombia’s team is known, are significantly decaffeinated.

Falcao, one of the world’s top players and a big reason Colombia is in the Cup for the first time in 16 years, had surgery to repair the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in January.

“We are all depending on time, we aren’t going to speculate on one thing or another so as to not put on added pressure,” coach Jose Pekerman said Thursday during a news conference in Bogota.

Pekerman said he was with Falcao in Madrid recently and that Falcao “is working a lot, is doing well with his club and those of the national team.”

He then pleaded with the media to “respect the recovery time.”

Falcao’s nine goals helped Colombia finish second behind Argentina in South American qualifying, sending the team to the World Cup for the first time since 1998.

Colombia got a relatively easy draw into a group with Greece, Ivory Coast and Japan, so expectations are soaring.

Colombia is scheduled to play a friendly June 1 against Trinidad and Tobago in Bogota. Trinidad and Tobago also will play June 4 against Argentina in La Plata and June 8 against Iran in Sao Paulo

•  Neymar out: Brazilian star Neymar will miss four weeks after he had swelling and bruising on his left foot. He was limping after Wednesday’s 2-1 loss to Real Madrid in the final of Copa del Rey.
•  Tevez to Disney: If a recent interview is any indication, Carlos Tevez is not holding out much hope of being added to Argentina’s World Cup team. Despite leading Juventus and Serie A with 18 goals this season, he is not in the plans of coach Alejandro Sabella.

The 30-year-old Tevez played in the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, and is a fan favorite back home in Argentina. But Sabella has made it clear he is going with the players he picked, and Tevez is not one of them.

Tevez told that he can’t bear to watch his national team in the World Cup without him, so he plans to be at Disney World with his family when Argentina plays this summer.

“I don’t think I will watch my national team play at the World Cup,” Tevez said. “I’ve already bought tickets to go with my wife and my three children to Disney World. They deserve that trip and I have very clear in my mind where my place is. I will nevertheless be Argentina’s No. 1 fan.”

He told the website his favorites to win the Cup are, in order, Argentina, Brazil and Germany.

“I nevertheless don’t think I will be able to watch the games because that would make me very nervous and be nostalgic,” he said.

He also dismissed suggestions that he and Sabella have a bad relationship.

“We were together during my time in Brazil when I was at Corinthians [where Sabella was an assistant coach],” Tevez said. “We had a fantastic rapport. We never had any problems and our relationship was cordial and very good.

“I was told that in Buenos Aires there were people asking for me to be considered for the World Cup, and I thank them for their support but I tell them that they should let the coach make his own decisions. … I think [Sabella] is convinced of his selection and that’s very good. If he has to win, he will do so with his convictions and he shouldn’t do something he doesn’t feel is right. It wouldn’t be good for him to select me now. I have not been part of the group and I don’t want that if they have to select me it’s down to someone putting pressure on him.”

•  Barca reeling: It has not been fun being a Barcelona fan the past few weeks. The Spanish giant’s 2-1 loss to Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey final was its third loss in a row — the longest losing streak since the 2002-03 season. And barring a collapse by Atletico Madrid or Real Madrid, it appears Barca will end the season without any trophies. The last time that happened was 2008.

Barca didn’t make the Champions League semifinals for the first time in seven years, and the team is in third place in the league standings. Even star Lionel Messi has looked out of sorts in recent weeks.

First-year Argentine coach Gerardo Martino had best be looking at other career options.

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