Carlo Ancelotti has been dealt a nightmare by James Rodriguez, after the Everton midfielder endured “by far” the “worst match” of his international career as Colombia were humiliated 6-1 by Ecuador on Tuesday night.
Rodriguez featured for the full 90 minutes at the Estadio Rodrigo Paz Delgado to earn his 80th senior cap, but again failed to impress after lacking his usual magic in Friday’s defeat at home to Uruguay.
Yet his performance against Uruguay paled into insignificance compared to his efforts against Ecuador, with Colombian outlet El Tiempo describing the 29-year-old’s display as “by far” the poorest he has ever produced on the international stage, leading to questions over what the former Real Madrid maestro actually brought to the side.
“He had already come from not weighing in the match against Uruguay, but this may be his worst match with the Colombian National Team by far,” they claim. “He only appeared to collect the penalty that meant the partial 4-1.
“What is James’ problem? He does not adapt to the system, he does not weigh, he does not feel.”
El Tiempo thought so poorly of Rodriguez’s performance that he was only awarded a three out of 10 rating, despite ending a 12-game goal drought with his side’s late first-half penalty that offered Colombia hope of a second-half comeback.
Ancelotti would have been hopeful of seeing an individual comeback from Rodriguez after his torrid performance against Uruguay, with the £90,000-per-week midfielder entering the international break on the wrong foot after asking to be substituted in defeat to Manchester United.
“He was OK, he was tired,” the Italian said following the 3-1 loss, via quotes by the Liverpool Echo. “This week he did 80-minutes and he asked me to change it because he was tired but no physical problem.”
Rodriguez has been struggling for form in recent weeks following the testicular injury sustained in contact with Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk during October’s Merseyside Derby, which ruled the two-time Champions League winner out of Everton’s 2-1 defeat at Newcastle after passing a late fitness test to face Southampton.
He returned to the starting line-up against Manchester United, but again failed to register a goal or an assist to extend his run without scoring to three Premier League appearances and two without creating a goal, having struck thrice and assisted thrice in his first five outings.
Rodriguez finally scored again for Colombia in their brutal drubbing by Ecuador when he converted the 45th-minute penalty, while registering three key balls without creating a big chance, misplacing five of his seven crosses, eight of his 29 total passes and only attempting one dribble, per SofaScore.
While the talented 29-year-old beat his marker with his only dribble of the game, Rodriguez further lost four of his six ground duels and did not contend any aerial battles, lost possession 16 times, committed one foul and was dribbled past twice without offering any tackles, interceptions or clearances.
Ancelotti’s major concern will be to what extent playing 180-minutes in four days will have on Rodriguez, given his state when leaving Everton for international duty in south America, but also the level he was able to bring to the field once again.