James Rodríguez

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James Rodríguez

James David Rodríguez Rubio (American Spanish: [ˈxamez roˈðɾiɣes];[a] born 12 July 1991), commonly known simply as James, is a Colombian professional footballer who plays as an attacking midfielder or winger for Premier League club Everton and the Colombia national team. He has been praised for his technique, vision and playmaking skills, and often referred as the successor to his compatriot Carlos Valderrama.[2][3]

Starting his career at Envigado and then moving to Argentina side Banfield, James became well known in Europe during his time at Porto, winning several trophies and individual awards during his three years at the club. In 2014, James moved from AS Monaco to Real Madrid for a transfer fee of £63 million, which beat the one set by Radamel Falcao and made him the most expensive Colombian football player and one of the most expensive players at the time.[4] In his debut season, he was named in the La Liga Team of the Season and won La Liga Best Midfielder. In 2017, he signed for German club Bayern Munich on a two-year loan deal.

James started his international career with the Colombia under-20 team, with which he won the 2011 Toulon Tournament. He then captained the U-20 team during the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup. Due to his performance in the tournament, he was regularly called into the senior squad by the age of 20. He played in the 2014 and 2018 FIFA World Cup, winning the Golden Boot as the goalscorer in the former tournament and being included in the Cup’s All Star Team.[5][6] He also represented his nation at the 2015 Copa América, the Copa América Centenario in 2016, and the 2019 Copa América, winning a third-place medal in 2016.

Envigado

Born in Cúcuta, Norte de Santander, James spent his childhood in the city of Ibagué, Tolima. He was born to Wilson James Rodríguez Bedoya and Maria Del Pilar Rubio. James started his professional football career in 2006 with the Colombian second division club Envigado, with which he reached the Colombian first division through the 2007 promotion.[7] He became the second youngest Colombian player to start a professional match, playing his first match on 21 May 2006, at the age of 14.[8]

Banfield

2008

In 2008, he was signed by Argentine team Banfield. He made his first team debut on 7 February 2009,[7] and scored his first goal for the club on 27 February with a long range strike in a 3–1 victory over Rosario Central. He finished his first season with a goal in 11 appearances.[9]

2009

In 2009, he became a regular first-team player, featuring in every game of the Apertura 2009. At just 17, he became the youngest foreigner to score a goal in Argentina.[10] His second goal for Banfield came on 26 September, when he scored with a strike into the top corner from outside of the area in an important 2–1 win against Newell’s Old Boys, a victory that helped Banfield win the Argentine championship for the first time in the club’s history.[11]

In December 2009, Italian club Udinese planned to make a bid for James for a reported €5 million after the 2010 Copa Libertadores. However, Banfield rejected the bid, labelling it as “insufficient”.[12]

For the Clausura 2010, on 13 February 2010, James scored a golazo in the match against archrivals Lanús with a left-footed lob to make the game 2–0 in the final minutes. After the game, daily sports website Diario Olé compared his playing and personal style to Cristiano Ronaldo and nicknamed him the “James Bond of Banfield”.[13]

2010

On 10 February 2010, James scored his first Copa Libertadores goal in a 2–1 home victory over Mexican club Monarcas Morelia.[14] James added to his glowing reputation a week later with a goal in a daunting victory over Copa Libertadores group rivals Deportivo Cuenca away from home, scoring the fourth goal of the game with a nice finish in the area on his left foot. Banfield thrashed the home team 4–1. His wonderful scoring season continued with a brace in the Copa Libertadores group game on 10 March 2010. In an away match against Uruguayan club Nacional, James scored first with a diving header and then from the penalty spot on his right foot. The game ended with a 2–2 draw.[15] The 18-year-old netted another goal against Brazilian club Internacional on 29 April 2010 in the first leg match of Copa Libertadores 2010 Round 16, which Banfield won 3–1.[16] This goal brought his tally to five goals in seven games. However, James’ international season ended in defeat as his team went down on away goals with a 0–2 defeat in Porto Alegre in the second leg, in which James was red carded for two fouls.[17]

Porto

2010–11 season

On 6 July 2010, James was signed by Porto for €5.1 million, with 30% economic rights retained by other parties. He signed a four-year contract with a €30 million release clause.[18] Porto later re-sold 10% economic rights to third parties.[19] On 18 July, he played his first game and scored his first goal in a friendly against Ajax.[20] In November, Porto sold 35% economic rights (half of 70%) to Gol Football Luxembourg, S.A.R.L. for €2.5 million.[21]

On 15 December 2010, James scored his first competition goal in Europe in a 3–1 home victory against Bulgarian club CSKA Sofia.[22] James scored a hat-trick and assisted once against Vitória de Guimarães in the 2011 Taça de Portugal Final, which Porto won 6–2. On 17 May, Porto bought the remaining 30% economic rights from Convergence Capital Partners B.V. for €2.25 million and once again hold more than half of the economic rights with 55%.[23] On 13 June, James signed a new five-year contract in which the release clause increased to €45 million.[24] In no more than 24 appearances did he score six goals, provide eight assists and play a part in the Europa League victory.[25] He finished the 2010–11 season with six goals in 31 appearances.[26]

2011–12 season

In the 2011–12 season, James scored 14 goals for Porto and delivered 11 assists. In 2011, James won the LPFP Award for Breakthrough Player of 2011–12 Primeira Liga season at age 20, becoming the first Colombian player to do so. He is a two-time winner of the SJPF Player of the Month. James won the Portuguese Golden Ball award in 2012, becoming the second Colombian to win the award after Radamel Falcao as well as the youngest player ever to hold the honour.[27][28][29] On 20 September 2011 in a league match against Feirense, he punched Rabiola and was subsequently dismissed, missing the match against Benfica.[30]

2012–13 season

In the 2012–13 season, James was given the number 10 shirt and became a regular starter. Since fellow Colombians Radamel Falcao, Fredy Guarín and Brazilian Hulk left the club during the last two seasons, James was able to start more regularly than before. In a match against Olhanense, James chipped a goal outside the box at a tight angle. In the same game, he assisted compatriot Jackson Martínez with a through ball for an eventual 3–2 win. James scored the team’s third goal against Beira-Mar soon after assisting the first two goals in a 4–0 victory. A week later, James assisted a goal with a free kick rebound in an away game against Rio Ave that eventually ended at 2–2.[31]

In the 2012–13 UEFA Champions League group stage, he scored against French club Paris Saint-Germain in a 1–0 victory allowing Porto to top their current group.[32] A few days later, James scored a penalty against rivals Sporting Clube de Portugal. In no more than one month since the start of the 2012–13 season did James won the SJPF Player of the Month award.[33][34][35] In the third round of the Champions League group stage, he assisted a goal to an eventual 3–2 victory. James registered an assist in a 2–1 victory against Estoril.

In a 5–0 win over Marítimo, James scored twice. James was once again on the score sheet nine days later in a match against Académica de Coimbra. In the 90th minute against Braga, James scored a game-winning goal that ended 2–0. Against Moreirense, he assisted a goal from the corner to fellow countryman Jackson Martínez.

Prior to the second half of the season, James suffered a hamstring injury causing him to struggle to maintain fitness. In a match against Nacional, he injured his hamstring once more and was subsequently substituted after the first half. The injury sidelined him for a month.[36][37] On 1 February 2013, Porto bought back 30% economic rights of James from Gol Football Luxembourg for €8.57 million[38] (by selling 47.5% economic rights of Diego Reyes for €3.5 million[39]), which Porto sold in November 2010 for €2.5 million.

James made his return at the 70th minute in the 2–0 victory over Beira-Mar, his first match since being injured for more than a month. In the first leg of the Champions League round of 32 against Málaga, James was called onto the pitch at the 60th minute. Although he failed to change the 1–0 victory score, James became a big game changer in Porto’s attack despite his current fitness.[40] In his second league match since his return, James assisted a goal against Rio Ave with a wonderful cross. Soon afterwards in his next league match, he assisted a goal against Estoril from a corner in a 2–0 victory.[41] It was James’ first start in two months.[42] James did not start in the second leg of the Champions League match against Málaga until the second half when Porto was down to ten men after the dismiss of a defender. Porto lost the match and coach Vítor Pereira was greatly criticized and questioned why James did not start sooner considering that the player was a key member and Porto could have had a more solid team. James expressed his disappointment, claiming to be “100%” in good health (as well as giving a performance with no struggles shown). However, he also expressed his respect and understanding to the coach’s concern.[43][44][45] Despite an exit from the Champions League, James went on to become the second-most fouled player in the tournament that year.[46]

James scored a goal in a 1–1 tie against Marítimo. Manchester United reportedly made a bid for €30 million to purchase James, though Porto rejected the offer as being too low.[47][48][49] James made his debut in the 2012–13 Taça da Liga semi-final where he scored a penalty. Porto won the match 4–0 and advanced to the final. James gave a man of the match performance against Braga, scoring the first goal and assisting two, one from the field and the other from the corner, in a 3–1 victory.[50] James assisted one of the goals in a 2–0 victory over Vitória de Setúbal. He also scored the opening goal in a 3–1 victory over Nacional.

In the final match of the season against Paços de Ferreira, James was tripped inside the box and secured a penalty that was later scored and that led to Porto’s third consecutive league title.[51][52] He finished the season with ten goals and 13 assists in 24 league appearances. In all competitions that season, he scored 13 goals and provided 15 assists in 32 appearances. Winning the league title meant that James, at 21, won his eighth trophy since joining the club three years ago.

Monaco

On 25 May 2013, it was announced that James had joined AS Monaco for a transfer fee of €45 million, the second most expensive transfer in Portuguese football behind former teammate Hulk. James subsequently signed a five-year contract that was set to keep him at the club until 2018.[53] This transfer made him not only one of the most expensive transfers in the club’s history, but in Ligue 1 history as well, along as the one of the highest in world football.[54]

James made his Monaco debut against Bordeaux, a game Monaco went on to win 2–0. He then missed Monaco’s second league match to avoid a possible injury.[55] James made his first direct offensive contribution for Monaco by assisting the first goal in a 3–0 victory against Bastia before setting up plays for his team’s other two goals.[56] Against Saint-Étienne in the following week, James gave a man of the match performance by assisting on both goals in a 2–1 victory.[57][58] Following the international break, James assisted the first goal in a 2–2 draw against Sochaux.[59]

James assisted the only goal for Monaco in a 1–1 draw against Évian.[60] He finally scored his first goal for the club with a free-kick in a 2–0 win over Rennes.[61] James scored another goal in the next match in the fourth minute against Nice, a game Monaco prevailed in 3–0.[62] Away against Guingamp, James assisted both goals in a 2–0 victory.[63] He then scored a goal against Valenciennes to put Monaco on the score sheet, though Monaco ultimately lost 1–2.[64]

James began the 2014 calendar year by making his Coupe de France debut in a match against Vannes, where he both assisted and scored a goal in a 3–2 victory.[65] In his first league match of 2014, James assisted a goal against Montpellier.[66] Against Toulouse, James provided an assist to the second goal in a 2–0 away victory with a cross.[67] James’ first double at Monaco came in the match against Bastia, a 2–0 Monaco victory.[68] Within the final seconds against Reims, James hit a shot that hit the post and allowed teammate Layvin Kurzawa to score the rebound allowing Monaco to win the game 3–2.[69]

In the French media, James was referred to as “perhaps” the best footballer in Ligue 1 due to his impressive debut season with Monaco,[70] although he stated that he still required more time in the league to fully adapt.[71] Following the international break, James scored his first penalty for Monaco against Sochaux in a 2–1 win.[72]

James ended his debut season without a trophy, though nonetheless helped Monaco secure a spot in the following season’s UEFA Champions League. On an individual level, he earned a spot in the star Ligue 1 XI,[73] and led Ligue 1 in assists on the season.[74]

Real Madrid

“The numbers mean nothing to me. I just want to help make history and bring joy to the Madrid fans. This is a club which is used to winning and I’m prepared mentally and physically to do so. It is a pleasure to be among so many stars and I’m sure I’ll learn a lot from everyone. I’ve always followed Real Madrid and always dreamed of playing here. I’ve suffered a lot to get here and when you do that then it tastes so much better. I will never forget this day. I hope to work hard, to train well, and to experience a lot of joy here. I know I am under a lot of pressure, but I am happy to face it.”

James on his move to Real Madrid.[75]

In a post-match interview during the 2014 FIFA World Cup, James stated his “love”, “admiration” and “passion” for Real Madrid, saying that it would be a “life’s dream” to play for them after his performances aroused rumors linking him to the Spanish club.[76]

On 22 July 2014, James confirmed the rumours by signing a six-year contract with the Spanish club for an undisclosed fee, which was reported to be approximately £63 million.[77][78][79][80] At the time, this was the fourth-most expensive transfer in the world, the third-most expensive in Real Madrid’s history, and the most expensive Colombian to date after surpassing Radamel Falcao‘s €60 million transfer in 2013.[81] The amount spent on his transfer fee led many to referring James as a Galáctico credited by the fact that he was given the number 10 shirt carrying the legacy of Real Madrid legends such as Luís Figo, Ferenc Puskás and the player he admired the most while growing up and supporting the club, Zinedine Zidane.[82][83][84]

James was greeted by a 45,000 attendance during his presentation. The Colombian ambassador in Madrid made a speech at the event and carried a message from Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos that James was changing the history of Colombian football and that the entire nation is behind him.[85] Real Madrid President Florentino Pérez would follow with a speech of his own, stating that he welcomed James, a “lover” and “long supporter” of the club who will never forget the day he made his dream a reality.[86]

2014–15 season

James with Real Madrid in 2014

James made his debut in the UEFA Super Cup at Cardiff City Stadium against Sevilla, in which Real Madrid won 2–0. He played 72 minutes before being replaced by Isco.[87]

On 19 August, James scored his first goal for Real Madrid against Atlético Madrid in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup after coming on as a substitute for Cristiano Ronaldo at half-time.[88] James made his Champions League debut for Real in the group stage opening match against Basel, where he scored the fourth goal in a 5–1 victory.[89] James then scored his first league goal days later against Deportivo La Coruña, where he also supplied an assist in an 8–2 victory.[90] James scored in a 4–0 win at Granada on 1 November a brace including a dipping volley from a poor angle.[91]

In the match against Sevilla in which he scored the opening goal, James experienced a fracture on the fifth metatarsal in his right foot after being fouled. The injury required surgery and he was out of action for two months.[92] James returned on 5 April in the match against Granada, where he assisted two goals in a 9–1 victory before being subbed at the 60th minute.[93][94] Days later, James scored his first goal since his injury against Rayo Vallecano in a 2–0 victory.[95]

2015–16 season

After being left on the bench for his team’s season opener, a scoreless draw against Sporting Gijón, James made his first contribution of the season by giving a man of the match performance against Real Betis. The player scored with both a spectacular free-kick and bicycle kick and provided an assist for Gareth Bale.[96]

On 8 September 2015, during an international friendly match against Peru, James collided with Peruvian player Juan Manuel Vargas while going for a ball.[97] Although he initially appeared able to continue, James was removed from the game as a precautionary measure,[98] and he was diagnosed with a thigh muscle tear as a result of the knock.[99] James was not seen back in training until 27 October 2015.[100]

He was a part-time starter when the team won the 2015–16 UEFA Champions League.[101]

2016–17 season

James made 22 appearances when Madrid won the 2016–17 La Liga.[102][103] He made six appearances when Madrid won the 2016–17 UEFA Champions League.[104]

Despite the league title dominance and successful defense of the champions league title, James had played a total of 1,824 minutes compared to his limited 1,858 minutes the previous season. Despite achieving 11 goals and 13 assists, he failed to gain more playing time under Zidane despite his influence on the pitch, leading him to request a loan transfer for more playing time.[105][106]

Bayern Munich

2017–18 season

On 11 July 2017, it was announced that James was loaned to Bayern Munich on a two-year long deal.[107][108] Bayern paid Real Madrid €13 million as a loan fee for the two season-long loan. With James’ loan deal to Bayern, he reunited with his old Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti. Bayern had the option to buy James for €42 million at the end of the loan period.[109] He scored his first goal of his loan spell in a 3–0 away win over Schalke 04.[110] After a slow start to his Bayern career, mainly due to an injury in preseason, James rediscovered his form after Jupp Heynckes was hired as Bayern’s manager in October 2017 as the club sacked Ancelotti.

On 2 April 2018, Bayern’s CEO, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge thanked Ancelotti for luring James to Bayern. “It was a very, very good transfer and I have to thank Carlo Ancelotti once again,” Rummenigge said.[111]

In the semi-finals of the 2017–18 UEFA Champions League season, James scored the equalizing goal in a 2–2 draw against his parent club, Real Madrid, at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, but Bayern failed to reach the final as they lost 3–4 on aggregate.[112] However, James would go on to win the 2017–18 Bundesliga title with Bayern, credited as a key member behind their title defense for his contribution of 7 goals and 11 assists in 23 Bundesliga appearances.[106][113]

2018–19 season

On 15 September 2018, James scored his opening goal of the season in a 3–1 victory over Bayer Leverkusen.[114] On 17 March 2019, he scored three goals in a 6–0 league win over Mainz, his first hat-trick since 2011, with Porto.[115]

On 18 May 2019, James won his second Bundesliga title as Bayern finished two points above Dortmund with 78 points. A week later, James won his first DFB-Pokal as Bayern defeated RB Leipzig 3–0 in the 2019 DFB-Pokal Final. James did not appear in the match as he was out injured.[116] James appeared in 28 matches and scored seven goals in all competitions.

On 5 June 2019, it was announced that Bayern Munich would not pick up the buy option and he would return to Real Madrid.[117]

Return to Madrid

After his return to Madrid, James made eight appearances during the league season, as Real Madrid won the 2019–20 La Liga.[118]

Everton

On 7 September 2020, Premier League club Everton announced that they had signed James from Real Madrid on a two-year deal, with a club option for a third season in a deal worth £20m.[119][120][121] Hence, he reunited with old manager Carlo Ancelotti for the third time.[122]

International career

James Rodríguez

Youth

James was part of the Colombia U-17 team that finished runners-up in the 2007 South American Under-17 Championships, where he scored three goals. He also helped Colombia advance to the knockout stages during the 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup, where they eventually lost to the winners of the tournament Nigeria.

James Rodríguez

He was also part of the Colombia under-20 squad in three youth tournaments during 2011: the Toulon Tournament, the South American U-20 Championship and the U-20 World Cup that was held in his homeland Colombia.

James Rodríguez

James scored two goals and provided three assists during the 2011 Toulon Tournament. This show led him to being voted as the MVP of the tournament where Colombia won the final by defeating France in a penalty shootout. James scored one of the penalties in the shootout.

James Rodríguez

During the 2011 South American U-20 Championship, he provided three assists. During the 2011 U-20 World Cup, he was named captain of the U20 squad due to his impressive leadership and talent. By scoring three goals and providing three assists in the tournament, he gained international attention as a promising star and made many consider him as a potential key member of the Colombian senior squad.

Senior

James Rodríguez

2014 World Cup qualification and friendlies

James lining up for Colombia during the 2014 World Cup qualification match against Uruguay, on 10 September 2013

James Rodríguez

On 29 September 2011, James received his first call-up to the Colombia senior side for a match against Bolivia on 11 October 2011.[123] He was selected as the man of match due to his incredible performance including the initiation of the goal scored in the last minute by his former Porto teammate Radamel Falcao which gave Colombia a 2–1 win. Under the new manager José Pékerman, he played a crucial part in setting up both goals in a 2–0 victory over Mexico. He scored his first goal for Colombia against Peru. Colombia went on to win the match and boosted its place in the World Cup qualifying table from sixth to fifth.

James Rodríguez

James assisted two goals in a row from 1–0 to 3–0 In the World Cup qualifying match against Uruguay that eventually ended 4–0. James scored a stunning volley from a 30-yard free kick against Chile, leveling the game to an eventual 3–1 away victory boosting Colombia to the second place in the qualifying stages. In the match against Paraguay, James set up the plays leading towards both goals in a 2–0 victory. In Colombia’s last international friendly of the year, James assisted the sole goal allowing Colombia to tie with 2014 World Cup hosts Brazil 1–1.

James Rodríguez

James played his first match of 2013 in the second half of the CONMEBOL qualifiers against Bolivia where he gave a man of the match performance. He set up the second goal thanks to a free kick that he took. The game ended 5–0 eventually.[124]

Playing against South American leaders Argentina, James suffered an injury in the 30th minute forcing him to be substituted. While the injury was not serious, James was rested and therefore missed the game against Peru days later. James made a good comeback when he scored the winning goal in a 1–0 victory over Ecuador during the final stages of the world cup qualifiers. In a tough match against Chile, James drew both penalties that equalized Colombia from a 1–3 to a 3–3. This drew allowed Colombia to return to the World Cup for the first time in 16 years. Days later, James assisted the first goal with a free-kick while setting up the second in a 2–1 away victory over Paraguay.

James continued his play-making form by assisting the first goal and setting up the second against Belgium in a 2–0 victory. He was later voted man of the match.[125] A few days later, James was praised once more as the man of the match in a 0–0 draw against

James Rodríguez

the Netherlands.[126] James started in Colombia’s 2014 opening match and scored a penalty against Tunisia in a 1–1 draw. In the last friendly before the World Cup, James scored yet another penalty against Jordan in a 3–0 victory.

2014 World Cup

James Rodríguez

“For me, special talents are those who do things that are completely out of the ordinary. Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez, James Rodriguez – they do things because they have certain gifts that make them special. I believe he’s the best player at the World Cup and I don’t think I’m exaggerating; he’s a young player. We tried to limit his influence, but he kept going and made his presence felt. Hopefully he’ll continue to progress, because he’s very young. Football needs players with these characteristics.”

Óscar Tabárez on James.[127]

James Rodríguez

On 2 June 2014, James was named in Colombia’s 23-man squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and assigned the number 10 shirt.[128] In the team’s opening match of the tournament, James set up the first two goals, scored a last-minute goal with a low shot to seal a 3–0 victory over Greece and was named man of the match by FIFA.[129] In the second match, James continued his form by scoring with a header and setting up a second goal for Juan Fernando Quintero in a 2–1 victory over Ivory Coast and was once again elected as man of the match.[130] In the final group stage match against Japan, James came on as a second-half substitute and assisted two Jackson Martínez goals before scoring the final goal in a 4–1 victory.[131][132] At the end of the group stage, James was ranked as the best performing player at the tournament by FIFA.[133]

James Rodríguez

James scoring his second goal against Uruguay in the Round of 16 match

On 28 June, James scored both goals to defeat Uruguay 2–0 at the Maracanã in the round of 16, taking Colombia to its first ever World Cup quarter-finals. These goals made him the first player to score in all of his team’s opening matches since Ronaldo and Rivaldo in 2002.[134] His volleyed opening goal was described as “one of the greatest goals the World Cup has ever seen” by opposing manager Óscar Tabárez, who also called James “the best player in the World Cup.”[135] Because of his performance against the Uruguayans, James was named by FIFA as man of the match for the third time in four matches.[136] The volley was later voted as the best goal in the tournament by more than four million people on FIFA’s website[137] and won the FIFA Puskás Award for the best goal of the year.[138][139] In the quarter-final against Brazil, he scored his sixth goal of the tournament, a penalty in Colombia’s 2–1 defeat.[140]

James Rodríguez

James celebrates after scoring a penalty against Brazil at the 2014 World Cup. He became the first player to score in every single game he played since Rivaldo at the 2002 edition.

A tearful James was consoled by Brazil’s David Luiz and stated, “He (David) told me I was a good player. The truth is that having so many superstars hug me did make me happy. We

James Rodríguez

have to raise our heads now and thank Colombia for their support. We are sad because we wanted to keep going and set new records. We gave everything to reach the semi-final, but we have to be proud because we played a great side. I’m crying because we gave everything. We’re sad but we also have to feel proud because we left our skin out there.”

 

James Rodríguez

[141][142] Luiz and Rodríguez also exchanged jerseys. James received a standing ovation from the home crowd, ending his first World Cup campaign with six goals and two assists in five matches.[143] On 11 July, he was named on the 10-man shortlist for FIFA’s Golden Ball award for the tournament’s best player.[144] He then won the Golden Boot as the tournament’s top goalscorer despite being eliminated in the quarter finals.[5] Due to his performances, he was named in the World Cup All Star XI and was also listed in the Cup’s star XI by Castrol‘s index rating system in FIFA’s website.[6] Argentina legend Diego Maradona argued that James, rather than Lionel Messi, that should have won the tournament’s Golden Ball award.[145]

James Rodríguez

2015 Copa América and Copa América Centenario

James was called up to represent Colombia at the 2015 Copa América in Chile,[146] where his team was eliminated 5–4 on penalties by eventual finalists Argentina on 27 June, following a 0–0 draw.[147]

https://en.wikipedia.org

The following summer, James joined Colombia’s squad for the Copa América Centenario and was named the team’s captain.[148] On 3 June, he started in Colombia’s opening 2–0 win against tournament hosts the United States, scoring his team’s second goal from the penalty spot although he was forced off early due to an injury.[149] It was initially feared that he would be unable to feature in his nation’s second group match against Paraguay,[150] but he recovered in time to start the match, setting up Colombia’s first goal, and later scoring one himself in a 2–1 win which sealed his team a place in the quarter-finals of the tournament.[151]

James Rodríguez

Colombia would then lose in the semi-finals against eventual and defending champions Chile, before securing a third-place victory against the host nation for Colombia’s best result since 2001.[152]

James Rodríguez

2018 World Cup qualification and friendlies

James made his first direct contribution towards qualification, scoring a goal in a heated duel against Copa America champions Chile, securing a 1–1 away draw.[153] In early 2016, he provided both a goal and assist in a difficult away match against Bolivia resulting in a 2–3 victory.[154] Days later, he assisted another goal in a 3–1 home victory against Ecuador.[155] In early August, he contributed both a goal and an assist in Colombia’s 2–0 victory against Venezuela.[156]

James Rodríguez

Starting off 2017, James scored a late dramatic goal against a defensive Bolivia after missing an earlier penalty. The 1–0 home victory allowed Colombia to move to 4th place within the qualification group.[citation needed] Days later, James would score and provide a goal in an impressive 0–2 victory in Ecuador.[157] For his first friendly of the year, James assisted Radamel Falcao‘s goal from the corner against European giants Spain. The game would end 2–2.[158] Days later against Cameroon, James would both provide and score a goal in a dominating 4–0 victory.[159] For the last qualification match of the 2018 World Cup, James would score a crucial away goal against South American rival Peru, resulting in a 1–1 draw and granting Colombia the last automatic qualification spot at fourth place.[citation needed] James’ last contribution of 2017 for Colombia would be an assist against South Korea, which would end 2–1.[160]

Colombia’s World Cup preparations in 2018 began against World Cup favorites France, where James provided two assists towards a comeback of a 2–0 score to a 2–3 victory. This marked the first victory in Colombia’s history over France.[161]

2018 World Cup

James Rodríguez

On 4 June 2018, James was selected in Colombia’s 23-man squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.[162] James did not start in the opening game against Japan after a calf injury during training. He came as a substitute in the 59th minute for Juan Quintero.[163] On 24 June 2018, he provided two assists in a 3–0 victory over Poland and was named as the Man of the Match.[164] James had to be substituted in the 30th minute in the final match of the group stage against Senegal due to the injury.[165] James played in all three matches during the group phase, but was forced to sit out of Colombia’s last 16 match against England. Colombia lost 4–3 on penalties against England and were eliminated from the World Cup. James was unable to score in those three matches.[166]

2019 Copa América

On 30 May 2019, James was included in the 23-man final Colombia squad for the 2019 Copa América.[167] In the quarter-finals of the tournament against defending champions Chile on 28 June, following a 0–0 draw after regulation time, James scored in the resulting penalty shoot-out; however, Colombia were defeated 5–4 and were eliminated from the competition.[168]

Style of play

Once considered to be among the best young players in the world,[169] James is a versatile footballer who can play in several positions across the midfield or front-line, having played as a playmaker, winger, and central midfielder for both club and country,[170] although he has stated in interviews that his preferred role is as an attacking midfielder behind the strikers.[171] Praised for his pace, technical skills, vision, and his ability to create chances for teammates as an advanced playmaker,[2][3][172][173] James’ performances as a classic number 10 have led to comparisons with the famous Colombian footballer Carlos Valderrama;[174] Valderrama himself declared James as his “successor”.[175][176]

“He has the ability to see the hole where others cannot find it. This has already been shown in several games this season. His vision of the game is reminiscent of what Michael Laudrup had and the great beneficiaries are his teammates.”

Marca writer Justin Sherman regarding James’ first season with Bayern.[177]

James Rodríguez

Although naturally left-footed,[172] James has shown ambidexterity in his dribbling and style of play.[178][179] His goal scoring abilities were a highlight of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, where he managed to claim the Golden Boot despite Colombia’s elimination in the quarter finals following a 2–1 loss to Brazil.[5] He is also an accurate free kick taker, and a goal threat from anywhere on the pitch.[172] This has made James recognized for his

James Rodríguez

unpredictability as noted by Marca writer Justin Sherman: “One of the differences that James has with other players is that, apart from being very good outside the area, he is also good inside. He has the qualities of a No. 9 and is capable of finishing with a shot from the head or with either foot with great effectiveness.”[177]

James Rodríguez

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