SARANSK, Russia (Reuters) - Attacking midfielder James Rodriguez was left out of Colombia’s starting team to play Japan in their World Cup Group H opener at on Tuesday in a big blow to the Latin American side.
The Colombia talisman, who won the golden boot in Brazil four years ago, has been troubled by muscle fatigue and the onus will be on all-time leading scorer Radamel Falcao to lead the Cafeteros in his absence.
Four-times Asian champions Japan lost 4-1 to Colombia in Brazil and have been hamstrung by a poor build-up to the tournament, including the sacking of Bosnian coach Vahid Halilhodzic in April.
The Blue Samurai included the experienced duo of midfielder Shinji Kagawa and defender Yuto Nagatomo in their starting line-up.
Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Ed Osmond