This summer's World Cup in Brazil will most likely be played without one of the planet's biggest stars.
Colombian striker Radamel Falcao, who had seven goals in World Cup qualification, could miss out on the tournament due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament he sustained against Chasselay Monts d'Or Azergues in a French Cup game on Thursday.
Falcao, 27, was a finalist for the FIFA Ballon D'Or last year and was a member of last year's World XI. He signed for Monaco this past summer on a €60 million, five-year deal from Atletico Madrid.
Colombia, who are the top seed in Group C with Greece, Cote D'Ivoire, and Japan, finished second in preliminaries. Though they were helped by Brazil not taking part in the qualifiers as World Cup hosts, the Colombians were still emphatic as they ran through the nearly three-year marathon that is South American qualification.
Much of that success was due to Falcao. He's not a one-man wrecking ball, with some of his Colombian teammates playing in Ligue 1 and Serie A. But he's very much like Cristiano Ronaldo, who almost single-handedly drove Portugal through World Cup qualification.
Players who are at the same level as Falcao and Ronaldo-- like Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, and Mario Balotelli-- have a team of highly well-rounded and tactically superb players around them to enhance their game.
Colombia, who kick-off the World Cup against Greece at Belo Horizonte on June 14, would have to change their dynamic without Falcao.
His injury is an enormous loss. And without Falcao, getting through the group stage won't be as easy; Colombia is less of a favorite to finish the group in first place. That means their odds of going deep into the knockout round could drop too.
This is Colombia's first World Cup since 1998. Their best result at a World Cup is a round of 16 finish at Italy 1990.
Falcao is tied for Colombia's second-best scoring record (20). The record is 25 goals, held by Arnoldo Iguaran. Falcao will need surgery for his injury but is expected to break the record once he returns.
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