Cesc Fabregas of FC Barcelona (L) scores his first team's goal under a challenge by Fernando Amorebieta of Athletic Club during the La Liga match between Athletic Club and FC Barcelona at San Mames Stadium in Bilbao, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Radamel Falcao is out for Colombia, while Fernando Amorebieta has been a spectacular addition for Venezuela. Could the road team pull off a massive upset in CONMEBOL World Cup 2014 qualifying?
They didn't make things easy on themselves, but Colombia did what they needed to do and grabbed a late three points in La Paz, defeating Bolivia in the only match they've played in CONMEBOL World Cup 2014 qualifying. Venezuela have some bigger bragging rights, pulling off the early upset of the tournament as they defeated Argentina on a goal by Fernando Amorebieta.
Venezuela proved in that game that they have the chops to beat anyone, but if their first round loss to Ecuador is any indication, they're not the same team on the road as they are at home. Ecuador are a solid, but unspectacular side who most do not favor to qualify for the World Cup. If Venezuela has any ambitions of qualifying, it's a team they should be competitive with on the road. That was not the case on Matchday 1.
The addition of Amorebieta, born in Venezuela but raised in the Basque Country, has already been huge. The Athletic Bilbao central defender represented Spain at youth international level, but sensing that his opportunities in La Furia Roja's team would be limited, switched to the country of his birth. He was the missing piece in a team that has slowly but surely improved in recent years, and Venezuela is no longer in South America's basement.
Between Venezuela's improving squad and an injury to Radamel Falcao, the visitors should have a fighting chance. However, Colombia have an adequate replacement in Jackson Martinez, a very deep squad, and a solid home record. They're the deserved favorites, and their visitors will be thrilled if they can get a point.