World Cup sensation James Rodriguez said that Colombia would feel “no pressure” against Brazil in the quarterfinals after inspiring his side to a 2-0 victory over Colombia.
The 22-year-old scored a contender for goal of the tournament with an exquisite volley in the 28th minute of Saturday’s last-16 game at the Maracana before doubling his tally shortly after half-time.
Colombia will face the hosts in Fortaleza on July 4 and Rodriguez believes that his side’s four consecutive wins in the tournament mean that Brazil will have to take them seriously.
“There’s no pressure,” said the Monaco playmaker.
“Obviously we have to watch Brazil closely. They have very good players and they play good football, but they’ll have to watch us closely as well.
“We have good players and we can be dangerous. I think it’s going to be a beautiful match.”
Rodriguez’s man-of-the-match display prompted Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez to liken him to Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi, but he was modest in his own assessment of his performance.
“I only want to help the team,” said Rodriguez, who is now the tournament’s top scorer with five goals.
“I’m playing at a good level. We’re scoring goals and I’m happy because of that.”
Although Brazil needed penalties to overcome Chile after a 1-1 draw in their last-16 tie on Saturday, Colombia coach Jose Pekerman said that his side would not underestimate them.
“Having come through such a difficult match as Brazil did, it always raises the level of confidence because they are already in the quarter-finals and they’re approaching the final stages,” he said.
“We know the potential that Brazil have. It will be a great match. They are two countries that interpret football in the same way.”
While Brazil will enter the game as favourites, Pekerman believes that his well-drilled side have the weapons to make the hosts feel uncomfortable.
“At this level, there are a lot of elements that have to be balanced out,” he said.
“That’s why teams need players who are focused so that they clearly understand their roles and don’t give away space.
“They need to have the tactics to be able to change things in the course of a match and they also need the psychological side, which plays an important part in football.
“Sometimes a team with a lot of potential, if they don’t find the result and they need to win, they can’t play so brilliantly.
“So the competition becomes interesting because a team with less individual stars can disturb the balance of the other team.”
Pekerman also said that it would be unfair to simply dub the game a clash between Rodriguez and Brazil superstar Neymar.
“In terms of individuals, I always say that this has to do with the team,” he said.
“All players give their best when the entire team is working well, and our team performances are even.
“James is scoring important goals, but (Juan) Cuadrado is also playing at a great level, as are the strikers, the wingers, the full-backs. We also have a great goalkeeper (David Ospina).
“We’re playing very well as a team and we’re going through a good moment, but we know the match will be hard and that Brazil have the capacity to cause us problems.”