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Soccer is better when James Rodriguez is at his best

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Colombia looks like a competitor in Copa America now that James Rodriguez has answered questions about his fitness.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

There are better footballers in the world than James Rodriguez, but there aren't many more entertaining. So it comes as no surprise that when James came alive in Colombia's 2-1 win over Paraguay on Tuesday night, the result was arguably the best game of Copa America so far.

Quickly, before we get too deep into a James lovefest, we have to acknowledge Victor Ayala's wonderstrike.

You're not going to see many goals better than that this summer.

But up until that moment, the game had been defined by what James did with the ball and how little Paraguay could do to stop him. He had four shots of his own, three passes that led to shots for his teammates and was spraying dangerous diagonal balls all over the pitch. He recorded an assist on a set piece, plus this goal.

It was great to watch James at his best -- his active, fearless, creative best -- for the first time in a long time. He's been marginalized at Real Madrid and didn't factor much into their Champions League run. He scored a penalty in the Copa America opener in the United States, but otherwise wasn't much of a factor and sustained a shoulder injury that threatened to keep him out of this match.

This game was what Colombia fans were hoping they'd see from James in this tournament, but didn't know if they were going to get. But any concerns they had about fitness and form should be gone now -- James appears physically capable of performing all of his skills, and for 90 minutes.

As long as that's true, Colombia has a shot to win Copa America and their games are must-watch for neutrals, too.