Six years on from stealing the show with the goal of the tournament against Uruguay at the 2014 World Cup, James Rodriguez lacked his usual magic as the Everton midfielder struggled to dazzle during Colombia’s 3-0 defeat on Friday night.
Colombia hosted Uruguay at the Estadio Metropolitano Roberto Melendez seeking to build on their buoyant start to the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying stage, but goals from Edinson Cavani, Luis Suarez and Darwin Nunez dealt Carlos Queiroz’s side their first defeat.
The result leaves Colombia five-points shy of leaders Brazil and outside the Play-Off positions ahead of facing Ecuador on Tuesday, when Queiroz will be without Yerry Mina after the Toffees defender saw red after a torturous display.
Mina and Rodriguez have been slammed by the Colombian press for their efforts in defeat to Uruguay, with El Tiempo noting the similarities between Everton’s downturn in form and what the duo offered on Friday.
Rodriguez has been out of sorts in recent weeks as he continues to recover from a testicular injury, which prevented his involvement in the Blues’ defeat away to Newcastle United at the start of the month having featured for the full 90 minutes against Southampton after a late fitness check.
The blow has seen the £90,000-per-week maestro lack his usual expertise, with Rodriguez failing to record any key passes against Manchester United last time out and failing to register an assist since penning his third of the Premier League campaign against Liverpool last month.
Rodriguez is without a goal since firing home a brace in October’s 4-2 victory at home to Brighton & Hove Albion, either, and offered a disinterested presence in Colombia’s attack against Uruguay.
Rodriguez’s apathetic display for Colombia saw the 79-cap international go a 12th match without a goal for his country, having failed to register a single shot on target with two of his three efforts sailing wide of the Uruguay net and the other blocked, per SofaScore.
The 29-year-old could not provide an assist for the first time since beating Qatar 1-0 in June 2019, either, as Rodriguez did not offer any key balls from 44 accurate passes, misplaced 10 of his 12 attempted crosses, lost possession 26 times, lost six of 11 ground duels and was fouled on five occasions.
He additionally failed to better his marker with any of his three attempted dribbles, while Rodriguez offered Juan Cuadrado no defensive support having been dribbled past twice without making a single tackle, interception or clearance.
Ancelotti will be far from pleased to see Rodriguez struggle so much, but ever more keen to see the midfielder come through the international break unscathed.