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Football

Liverpool’s Diaz is Colombia’s new go to perfomer

COLOMBIA

Colombia have a new standard-bearer in Luis Diaz. He has become their go-to man when they need to unlock a defence. When a game needs changing and a dribble, goal or pinpoint cross is called for, Diaz invariably steps up and delivers for his side.

Stationed out on the left, he will drop back a few yards if denied possession and play a simple pass to keep the ball moving, but what he really likes is to push up into the final third and attack.

In Nestor Lorenzo’s Colombia side, all roads lead to Diaz, the man around whom everything revolves. Diaz has become Colombia’s leading light in a year in which their main objectives are the Copa America 2024 and the South American qualifying competition for the FIFA World Cup 26™.

Though James Rodriguez remains an important cog in the Cafetero machine and still has the confidence of Lorenzo, Diaz has taken on the mantle of star man. Currently excelling with one of Europe’s biggest clubs, he is in prime form.

It was 10 years ago that Nestor Pekerman’s Colombia took the world by storm at Brazil 2014, where they reached the quarter-finals before going out to the hosts. James was the star of that particular show, top-scoring in the competition with six goals in five games.

In the years that followed, however, James failed to find consistency at club level. His fluctuating form led to him being dropped for his country on occasion, most notably during the unsuccessful Qatar 2022 qualification campaign under Reinaldo Rueda.

Diaz made his Colombia debut in 2018, but it was not until the Copa America 2021 that he truly began to make his mark, standing out in a side that lost on penalties to Argentina in the semi-finals. His four goals made him the competition’s joint-top scorer.

Diaz began to fill the void left by James with the arrival of Lorenzo as coach. The Argentinian, whose appointment came in the middle of Qatar 2022, had plans for the Liverpool man, though injuries denied him his services in his first few games in charge

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