COLOMBIA enjoyed the most successful World Cup in their history four years ago as they reached the quarter-finals while playing some of the most attractive football on display in Brazil. Surpassing that achievement will not be easy, but it will not necessarily be impossible either as the current Colombian squad looks stronger than the one that made the last eight in 2014.

James Rodriguez won the Golden Boot four years ago, scoring six goals, and while the midfielder’s career has not quite gone to plan since, with an unsuccessful spell at Real Madrid, he remains the heartbeat of the Colombian team.

He spent last season on loan at Bayern Munich, and gradually looked to be rediscovering his best form as he claimed seven goals and 11 assists in 23 Bundesliga games. If a return to the World Cup stage inspires him once again, Colombia could be a force to be reckoned with.

Unlike in 2014, when he missed the World Cup after rupturing his cruciate ligaments, Colombia will also be able to call on Radamel Falcao. The striker has successfully reignited his career with Monaco, scoring 21 goals last term. If he fails to fire, Carlos Bacca is an alternative option.

Former Chelsea midfielder Juan Cuadrado provides a creative accompaniment to Rodriguez, and while defending might not be Colombia’s greatest strength, Tottenham’s Davinson Sanchez should help keep things secure at the back.

Arsenal reserve David Ospina is not the most reliable goalkeeping option, but Colombia nevertheless boast a well-balanced side that should once again be easy on the eye.

Tuesday’s opening game with Japan represents a decent opportunity to get off to a winning start, and a positive result in Saransk would take some of the pressure off the following Sunday’s meeting with Poland.

That could be a group decider, and would be of great interest to England if things are going to plan for Gareth Southgate’s side. Poland might be the highest-ranked side England could meet in the last 16, but you suspect Colombia are the team they would most like to avoid.