England insist they are on full World Cup alert for Colombian duo Radamel Falcao and Juan Cuadrado having already been burned by one Premier League outcast with a point to prove.
Former Manchester United winger Adnan Januzaj was the match-winner as Belgium beat Gareth Southgate’s side 1-0 on Thursday and said his desire to prove English critics wrong helped fuel his performance.
His strike meant England finished second in Group G and will now meet the table-topping South Americans in the last 16.
While Tuesday’s match in Moscow will centre largely on the fitness of James Rodriguez, who came off injured in Colombia’s win over Senegal, Falcao and Cuadrado are just as important to their cause.
English fans never got to see the best of the duo, who have enjoyed hugely impressive careers in continental Europe.
Falcao looked a shadow of his best during loan stints at Chelsea and Manchester United, while Cuadrado was one of many talented players who got lost in the shuffle after a big-money move to Stamford Bridge.
Gary Cahill knows Falcao from their time together in London and warned England cannot afford to see him as the lethargic figure who managed just five goals in two Premier League seasons.
“Falcao had a difficult time in England clearly, but outside of England he’s a very high-profile player,” said Cahill of a player who has struck 51 times for Monaco in the past two campaigns.
“He’s scored many, many goals. He did have a difficult time in England, showed his character when he went to find his form again and now he’s a huge player for them.
“I’m sure a huge amount was probably confidence. He had that spell at Manchester United, then he had that spell at us, he was short of sharpness at both of them.
“I suppose in his eyes, the rest is history, he’s refound his form now.
“He’s tricky in the box, he likes to come off the shoulder a little bit, and he’s a good finisher.
“When he gets half a chance, we saw that in training he’s a decent finisher. Everyone knows him, everyone’s aware of him, his ability.”
Ruben Loftus-Cheek also worked with the Colombian pair at Chelsea and gave a ringing endorsement of their skill.
“When I was at Chelsea training with them obviously Cuadrado didn’t get much game time but he still looked sharp,” he said.
“He is so sharp and he can just do things off the cuff, he gets past defenders. As for Falcao we all know what a player he is. Falcao is always a goal threat and he has been for his entire career.
“It will be a difficult game, just like any other at the World Cup. So we will need to analyse Colombia and work out how we want to play against them.”
Marouane Fellaini, who turned in an impressive midfield performance in Belgium’s victory over England, was with Falcao at United and holds him in high esteem.
“I think he is a great finisher, everybody knows that,” he said. “In the box he is very dangerous and can make the difference.
“It was tough for him (in England) but he went back to Monaco and did very well, won the league, played for his country and showed what he can do.”
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