Iván René Valenciano, former Colombian World Cup player: "Today Peru is the toughest rival our national team can have" |  INTERVIEW

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Duván Zapata, Luis Fernando Muriel, Luis Díaz, Rafael Santos Borré or Miguel Borja. In short, Iván René Valenciano rejoices for the great forwards that his beloved Colombian team has today. To such an extent that they can indulge in exempting the figure of Radamel Falcao Garcia. In view of the match against Peru on June 3 for the qualifiers, Valenciano puts the magnifying glass on the re-run of Reinaldo Rueda, in the “worrying” present of James Rodríguez and in the sure absence of Farfán for the duel at the National Stadium of Lime. For Iván René, Colombia will not be a favorite.

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-Is it a mystery what Colombia can present to Peru?

It is an uncertainty. Colombia has not even had a friendly match, so we cannot know how our team plays with the new coach. We know Reinaldo’s background. He already directed Atlético Nacional with which he was champion of the Liberators cup. At the Copa América in Brazil, he gave us a monumental review at Arena do Corinthians with Chile. So, we know Rueda’s processes, but not how he is going to face the qualifying matches against Peru and Argentina. Peru already has a structure and a scaffolding. Colombia is coming off two difficult defeats, that leaves you with a fairly large deficit.

-Do you think Rueda’s appointment was a good choice?

I do not know. Rueda when he was in charge of the Colombia team was also eliminated. They end up dismissing him and that gives you a lot to think about. Reinaldo did a good process in the selection, but he stayed by a goal. He was in Chile and it is not that they are in a better position than us. Likewise, we are all hopeful that Reinaldo will do what he did with Atlético Nacional in Libertadores. Hopefully I can replicate it in the national team and get back on track in these Playoffs, which are not easy at all.

-Knowing what he is capable of, do you see a more leading Colombia with Rueda?

Yes. When you see the call for Colombia, you meet a player like Sebastián Pérez, who was missing from the scene. Five or six years ago he was not in the national team. He is the player with the fewest minutes. So that’s where you understand the coach. It is played with footballers that he had in his time at Atlético Nacional. You know what Sebastián Pérez can give you. Just like when you call Miguel Borja. Don’t be surprised that he plays with two links like James Rodríguez and Juan Fernando Quintero. Rueda likes that cut of players. In Atlético Nacional he played with Macnelly Torres and Lobito Guerra.

-Duván Zapata and Luis Fernando Muriel will surely go on the attack, is it a relief to have them on offense?

There are 67 goals that they have between the two. Today hopes are pinned on what they can do. But the forwards do not work alone, but with the base of a collective. You have to see who can bring them the ball and supply them with balls. That is to say, they put them to produce as in the Atalanta in Bergamo. Soccer generators must help Duván and Muriel develop their scoring skills.

Iván René Valenciano also participated in the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games. (Photo: Agencies).
Iván René Valenciano also participated in the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games. (Photo: Agencies).

-Do you think Rueda will align them together against Peru?

In my team, I see them playing together (laughs). But I am not the coach. I would play with two front-line midfielders, two links, and two forwards. James and Cuadrado would be those links behind Duván and Muriel. Gasperini has them playing together. Muriel starts from the left side, but always closes to be second point along with Duván. Rueda is a smart guy and he’s a strategist from every point of view. You can use them in that way to make good use of them.

-The happiest with the diagonals that both can perform is James Rodríguez, how do you analyze the current situation of the Everton midfielder?

Worries. There is a Premier League date left and in the last game against Wolverhampton he did not enter. Then a statement from Everton comes out in which he says that James told Ancelotti that he was tired and that is why the coach did not include him to play. Today we do not know how he is physically. There is still some time left for the Playoff game. We don’t know if the coach is going to use it.

– You no longer see him immovable in the Colombian national team?

I see it movable, rather. Rueda is a strategist who convinces you, as is Ancelotti at Everton. It protects and cares for you. So I think it is movable. In one of the first conferences, Reinaldo said that he would try to accommodate James in the best way and will play according to the rivals they have. Starting from that base, it is more mobile. If you are not going to need him, you will surely have him on the bench as that revulsive player who can change the face of a game.

-Difficult to hear that James Rodríguez in Colombia is not indisputable.

What happens is that Reinaldo Rueda does not build a team based on a single player. You don’t want to depend on an individuality. Rueda behaves that way. Falcao returned from his injury, he scored goals with Galatasaray, but he does not end it summoning. He called out to other forwards. So its structure does not depend on you.

-With the present of Zapata, Muriel, Díaz, Borré or Borja, can we talk about the end of Falcao with the Colombia shirt?

It will depend on what Radamel Falcao can continue to give in the club where he is or where he goes, because it has been said that Galatasaray wants to leave it. We do not have a certainty of what his future will be. We must look at the present and that present is Duván, Muriel, Borré, Morelos, Díaz and all these players who today are making a difference in their teams. The selection must evolve. Rueda does not depend on the past, but on the present.

-Colombia is favorite against Peru?

After coming from two defeats and seeing that they scored nine goals in two games, we are not above Peru. I believe that we are not even equal. Peru already has a filming and a structure. Colombia does not have it. Today Peru is the most difficult rival that our national team can have. We do not know if we are going to play 4-4-2, 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1. In the call there are many new players. Today, even in one-on-one we cannot say that we are superior, because our players are not doing well in terms of football and we do not know what the coach thinks.

-How much does Peru lose without Farfán and without Guerrero at 100%?

When Peru did not have Paolo Guerrero and suddenly Farfán, Peru was a team that never disarmed from its structure. He never lost his way. Peru always depended on its collective. So, you know how to replace those figures. It is logical that having these two players on the playing field the difference is another, because they give you another status. But Peru knew how to play without them. I think he is going to rebuild himself, but it is still a relief for Colombia that Peru does not have one of those two players.

-What concept can you give us of Aldair Rodríguez’s performance in América de Cali?

He’s a good striker, but strikers are judged on goals. Here it is not useful to play football well, to be a benchmark in the area or to have an associative game. In our league, when a striker arrives, the first thing you are going to ask him for is a goal. He has not had that presentation with América de Cali in which we can all say: he is a scorer. It’s hard to talk about Aldair because he hasn’t had that scoring streak at his club.

-How to classify River’s victory with Enzo Pérez as goalkeeper and only eleven players against Independiente de Santa Fe from your country?

Of shameful. It seems to me that when one faces a rival who has no goalkeeper and only ten field players, it cannot be possible that you only shoot two or three times on goal. It’s embarrassing from there. Not to disrespect the rival, not to be daring. When you have a decimated team like River Plate, you should try to throw the truck on top of them. Santa Fe believed that soccer could be superior to River, for what he had done against Fluminense and Junior. It was not so. For this reason, we classify it as shameful, because they almost never finished off the goal with a goalkeeper who was not such as Enzo Pérez.

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