Vallenato Colombia squared away against Greece last Saturday, June 14, in Brazil’s Belo Horizonte stadium.
Incredibly, 55,000 to 60,000 Colombians were at the Mineirão Stadium. I was at La Chingona in Parque Lleras with my brother, sister, sister’s boyfriend, and a few hundred friends.
The game had not even started and I was already double-fisting, with a Medellín Ron and Coke cocktail in one hand and a Club Colombia Roja beer in the other. I was ready for a great game.
Shakira was ready too, this was her tweet before the game:
And no, I’m not a Shakira fan. As a matter of fact it is kind of funny how many Colombian’s actually do not like Shakira and resent her.
I just do not like pop music, but if she crossed over to some dirty, grimy reggaeton I would probably listen to her. Regardless I follow her on Twitter because she is a comrade.
In my previous post, An Introduction to Colombia in the 2014 World Cup, I had mentioned that I was hoping for Pablo Armero to score a goal so that the whole world could see him dance.
Low and behold at the fifth minute of the match Juan Cuadrado penetrated down into the right side of Greece’s 18-yard box, cut back and faked the defender, centered the ball, James Rodriguez dummied, leaving the ball for Pablito Armero to one-time it into the back of the net.
And as if he had planned to score the first goal for Colombia he lead the team to the sideline, everyone lined up diagonally and danced together.
Goal Pablo Armero Colombia 1-0 Greece Fifa… por valmiri
The dance is a rendition of a style from Colombia’s Pacific Coast called “bunde.”
Armero told ESPN Deportes that there would be more choreographed dances to come; that first he and the defense have to focus on not allowing any goals, but that when a goal is scored for it to be celebrated because Colombia is a happy country: full of folklore and traditional dances.
Armero became famous in Brazil when he played for Palmeira. His bold defense and attack-minded game led his team to many victories. But his dancing made him an icon.
He plays left defensive back, and typically, this type of player stays back and just focuses on defensive chores, but Armero must have been like me as a kid, always exploring, always getting into trouble, always over extending himself. This makes him an offensive threat and consequently a defensive risk at times.
Nonetheless, he is one of my favorite players to watch on the team and when he started dancing, everyone in the place started to mime the dance as well. I love being in Colombia!
The early goal seemed to be a big sigh of relief for the team. Greece came out firing and Panagiotis Kone broke through the defense, and luckily for Colombia, he miss-hit the ball and it flew wide over the goal.
For the rest of the first half Colombia pretty much sat back and defended with occasional fleeting attacks. Greece’s strong point is their defense, so Colombia wasn’t very threatened.
As a soccer fan, player and connoisseur I hate when teams do this. Sitting back and securing a lead should not come this early in the game. Personally, this tactic should only be implemented toward the end of the game, when your players are out of gas and you are ahead.
Nonetheless, the rum, beer and empanadas kept flowing. My Australian friend, Ian, was able to sneak in some of my favorite empanadas in Medellín from Empanadas Express.
As the second half kicked off so did our third bottle of Medellín Ron. Being that Ley Seca (Dry Law) was going to go into effect at 6 p.m. we had collectively agreed to drink as much as possible before then.
Every time there are presidential or congressional elections, the government establishes Dry Law, which means one cannot buy, sell or drink alcohol in public after a certain time.
So as I was stuffing my face with empanadas and washing them down with beer, at the 58th minute Teofolo Guitierez scored Colombia’s second goal. It was a really nice corner kick to the near post by James Rodriguez that was deflected towards the back post to where Teo Gutiérrez was perfectly situated to tap the ball home.
This was our reaction to Teo’s second goal:
In the 69th minute, our Atlético Nacional hero, Alex Mejia, stepped onto the field substituting Aguilar in the midfield. Everyone at the place cheered as he came on. It was a great feeling to know that someone representing us was being called on to help keep the lead.
After the second goal, Colombia cruised into the end of the regulation time. In the 93rd minute, a fatigued Greek defense broke down and allowed James space inside the 18-yard box. He reared back and fired, beating the goalkeeper, making it 3-0 Colombia.
When the final whistle blew, La Chingona erupted. There was confetti, spray foam, and dancing. We remained there for another hour. Once we sobered up a little, we decided to go out to eat lunch somewhere.
Parque Lleras has many options for lunch, and we settled on Peru Mix on Calle 10. We had three bottles of Ron Abuelo (a Panamanian imported rum) stowed away in a backpack.
We continued drinking through the evening. By 8 p.m., it felt like it was midnight. We went back to my apartment in Centro to eat dinner, but we ended up watching a movie and falling asleep.
Colombia vs. Ivory Coast
Coming off of their 2-1 victory over Japan, the Ivory Coast looks dangerous. As the group stands, Colombia is in first place with three points and a two-goal advantage over Ivory Coast.
This game is the most important game for Colombia. A draw will likely lead to a second round qualification, but one cannot come to the World Cup banking on a draw in order to qualify.
Colombia has to come out firing, get an early goal, and retain possession. Of course that all sounds easy on paper, but the Ivory Coast has some great talent.
Who to Watch
Yaya Toure – a strong midfielder with a keen nose for goal. Colombia must contain him in the midfield and not allow him to penetrate the defense.
Salomon Kalou – a fast striker with a strong leg. Pablo Armero and Mario Yepes will have their work cut out for them.
Didier Drogba – though 36 years old, he showed in the game versus Japan that he still has pace and talent. He is dangerous from all spots near the goal.
Whether ground or air attack he is deadly. Colombia has to focus on containing possession of the ball and not giving the Ivory Coast chances.
Colombia faces Ivory Coast at 11 a.m. on Thursday, July 19. I will be in a different part of Medellín having a great time, yelling my head off.