Colombia have had their sights set on Copa America 2021 for a long time. The moment has come and they finally kicked off their continental journey on the right foot, but without two iconic players such as James Rodríguez and Radamel Falcao.
Los Cafeteros have even started their campaign with an unconventional starting eleven with few of their most famous players on the field, but managed to claim the three points anyways. However, James' absence will probably remain a controversial call throughout the competition.
Reinaldo Rueda shocked the soccer community by leaving one of the national team's greatest players out, while Falcao's snub wasn't very surprising instead. Nonetheless, the Colombian coach had to make a tough decision by leaving these two out, and here we'll take a look at the reasons for it.
Why wasn't James Rodríguez called up by Colombia?
Before their South American World Cup Qualifiers 2022 double-fixture against Peru and Argentina, the Colombian national team announced that James Rodríguez wouldn't be part of the team for those games nor the Copa America 2021.
The statement explained that the coaching staff considered that James wasn't fit to play these kinds of games, which the player has firmly denied. "It's a decision from the coaching staff which I don't agree with because they disrespected me," James said.
"I'm fine, I could have played in the Copa America. It was a managerial decision," he added. James Rodríguez has had a wonderful start to his first season with Everton but then suffered from injuries and remained sidelined in the final stretch of the Premier League campaign.
Why isn't Radamel Falcao in Colombia's squad?
James' absence seems to be a bold move from Rueda, while Falcao's exit makes more sense. Not because El Tigre isn't good enough or lacks the talent to be in Colombia's roster, but because he doesn't seem to be the first-choice option anymore neither a crucial backup either.
His season with Galatasaray was far from good, as he struggled to be match fit and didn't see the field as he would have liked to. Falcao, 35, is heading to the final stages of his career and Colombia can rely on better options right now such as Duván Zapata and Luis Muriel.
Reports from Colombia have also stated, however, that Rueda planned on calling up the national team's leading goalscorer, but Falcao suggested he wasn't in optimal conditions to play and the team would be better without him. Either way, his and James' absence could be a burden for Colombia, unless Rueda's squad proves to be capable of filling their shoes.