TAMPA — Just two days after the Buccaneers kicked off their regular season at Raymond James Stadium, it will host an international friendly between the Colombia and Venezuela national soccer teams. Here’s five things to know about it:
1. Setting the stage
Last October, the Colombia men’s national team traveled to Tampa to take on the United States at Raymond James Stadium, and a crowd of 38,631 looked on as Colombia knocked off the Americans 4-2. Colombia’s James Rodriguez, the star midfielder who set the 2014 World Cup ablaze with his Golden Boot-winning performance as the tournament’s top goal-scorer, had a goal and an assist against the US men’s national team in 2018.
On Tuesday, Colombia returns to Tampa to face off against Venezuela.
Tuesday’s match will be Colombia’s second contest in Florida this month. Colombia played Brazil to a 2-2 draw in front of a sellout crowd of 65,232 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens on Friday night. Venezuela has not played in international competition since losing to Argentina 2-0 in the Copa America quarterfinal on June 28.
2. Partido de la Hermandad returns to Florida
Nearly a year ago to the day, Colombia and Venezuela faced off on a Florida pitch. On Sept. 7, 2018, the two South American teams played a friendly at Hard Rock Stadium. The rivalry, dubbed “Partido de la Hermandad,” or Game of Brotherhood, drew a crowd of 34,048 to Hard Rock Stadium. Colombia defeated Venezuela 2-1 in the 2018 friendly.
3. Sharing more than a border
In a press conference at Raymond James Stadium on Monday afternoon, Venezuela coach Rafael Dudamel noted his club’s ties to Colombia. Colombia and Venezuela share an international border, and Dudamel said several athletes from each side compete in the other country’s professional league.
Dudamel, a former Venezuelan goalkeeper, played in the Venezuelan and Colombian professional football leagues in his 21-year senior professional career.
Dudamel’s ties to Colombia extend beyond his professional career. His wife is from Colombia, and, when Colombia plays Venezuela, half the family wears Colombian kits while the other half reps Venezuela.
4. Players to watch
Colombia, led by coach Carlos Queiroz, will be without a superstar on Tuesday. Rodriguez, who suffered a calf injury while competing for Real Madrid on Aug. 24, will not play against Venezuela.
Colombian supporters should keep their eyes on Luis Muriel, who had two goals against Brazil on Friday, and Duvan Zapata, who scored two goals in Colombia’s four Copa America matches this summer.
Venezuela will also be without a familiar face on Tuesday. Josef Martinez, the 2018 Major League Soccer MVP with Atlanta United, is not currently with the Venezuela side. Martinez scored once for Venezuela in a Copa America match against Bolivia.
Jefferson Savarino, who has seven goals in 23 games for Real Salt Lake, earned a call-up to Venezuela’s senior club for the friendly.
5. A friendly that just means more
Dudamel said a win over neighboring Colombia is important for the country. The Venezuelan coach said his team must use this match to prepare for the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, scheduled to begin in March of 2020.
Gates open at 7 p.m. and the match kicks off at 8 p.m. at Raymond James Stadium. For ticket information, visit http://raymondjamesstadium.com/colombia-vs-venezuela.