Poland v Colombia: No time to dwell on regrets, warns Aguilar
Colombia cannot afford to dwell on regrets from the defeat to Japan in their World Cup opener when they face Poland in a crucial second Group H match, according to midfielder Abel Aguilar.
Jose Pekerman's side came into the tournament as strong favourites to win, but Carlos Sanchez was sent off in the third minute of the 2-1 loss to ensure a miserable start.
That result, coupled with Poland's defeat by the same scoreline to Senegal, means the two sides find themselves in a precarious position.
Senegal and Japan face each other three hours earlier and a draw in that clash will mean defeat for either Colombia or Poland would result in their elimination.
And while Aguilar acknowledges Colombia have no choice but to win, he is adamant Pekerman's side are calm and are not dealing with any "drama".
"The only thing I can say is that we hope to have a complete game on Sunday, Colombia need to win to stay alive," he told reporters.
"We already turned the page on Japan, we cannot stay in regret - unfortunately it was lost, but we know that we have two games ahead that can give us the option of advancing in the World Cup.
"In the national team there is no drama, we have all spoken quietly, recognising that we lost a game that we should have won, but now we have to look ahead and take this forward."
Pekerman is expected to alter his setup a little against Senegal, with Sevilla forward Luis Muriel thought to be in line to partner Radamel Falcao in attack after the Monaco star cut a frustrated figure last time out.
And after having to make do with a spot on the bench against Japan due to an injury, James Rodriguez is likely to be welcomed back into the starting XI by Pekerman in a significant boost to Colombia's chances.
Poland are planning to be ready to face the Bayern Munich attacking midfielder, though, with assistant coach Hubert Malowiejski fully aware attempting to keep him quiet will be "key".
"We know how good James is," he said. "But we treat Colombia as a whole team, even if they have such a great player.
"The key point is not to let him play brilliantly, it is one of the most important tasks for our team."
The only player on either side who will definitely miss out at this stage is Sanchez through suspension.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Poland – Robert Lewandowski
Any hopes Poland have of getting out of their group after an opening-day defeat surely rest on the Bayern Munich striker, but he will need to be much better than he was against Senegal when he had very little impact.
Colombia – James Rodriguez
Lewandowski's Bayern team-mate James is expected to come back into Colombia's line-up. Although Juan Quintero scored as his replacement last time, the Real Madrid-owned attacker's presence was clearly missed. His craft makes Colombia an entirely different proposition.
KEY OPTA FACTS
- Only once before have Colombia lost both of their opening two games in a World Cup tournament, doing so against Romania and USA back in 1994.
- Poland have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last nine World Cup matches, since beating Portugal 1-0 in 1986.
- Despite failing to score against Senegal in Poland’s opening match, Lewandowski has netted 21 goals in his last 16 appearances for his national team.
- Quintero became the first Colombian player to score in two different World Cup tournaments in their opening defeat against Japan (2014 and 2018).