Reds High, Blues Low
We are almost halfway through the Liga Postobon so it’s time for some half-time team talks. In the battle for the top eight spots which grant access to the next round, we have seen that the Bogota teams are not in the best shape.
Santa Fe, however, is going steady. The first champion of Colombia has an interesting squad. Camilo Vargas is now Colombia’s second goalkeeper after Mondragon hung up his gloves and the defensive midfielder Daniel Torres’ name keeps on going around the rumour mill, with regards to a national squad call-up. ‘The Reds’ just won “El Clásico bogotano” against Millonarios 1-0, but there is a rematch coming up on September 13.
With ‘Clásico’ match winner Omar Perez and striker Wilder Medina guiding them through the matches, Santa Fe are sitting in fourth spot. There is no time to relax yet, though, as only one point separates them from ninth place, and so any one of the lower ranked teams could bump them out of the next round.
Millonarios is a different story. The team started the season with two wins, but recorded their last win on July 26. Twelve matches later, without a single victory in any competition, things look very bleak for ‘The Blues’.
Sporting director José Portolés was fired after many internal scandals and at the start of September manager Juan Manuel Lillo was also given his marching orders, leaving the club in a complete mess. In the search for a new manager many names were put in the hat, and the Argentine Ricardo Lunari’s came out. The shared record champions have looked a little stale and, with the squad they have now, there is little hope for better days.
Then there is La Equidad, over the last few years a fierce contender, reaching the league final three times without managing to claim the title. The team started with zero points out of six matches and is still stuck at the bottom of the table. Manager Otero was discharged and the team will likely wade through the season trying to scrape together as many points as possible. Relegation is not a direct threat. The system counts results over the last three years and Equidad have had very good results over that period, leaving them without a real goal for this season.
The last side that plays their matches in Bogota is Fortaleza. The club, originally from Zipaquira, seems doomed this season. They are bottom of the relegation table with little chance of climbing up; it is a fierce fight with another minnow, Uniautonoma. The winner of that battle will have another chance in the relegation playoffs but even that seems like a battle Fortaleza is unlikely to win.
Outside of Bogota the performance of Deportivo Cali stands out. The club is competing on three fronts – the league, the cup and the Copa Sudamericana – and is sitting pretty at the top of the table. Independiente Medellin might not be battling it out in three competitions, but the team is also on a great winning run: four matches in a row. On the other hand the finalists from last year Atletico Nacional and Junior have experienced a bad start to the season: ‘The Greens’ from Medellin won the title last year, equalising leader Millonarios in total amount of league titles, but injury woes and three competitions they are eager to win are weighing heavy on their shoulders.
Junior, the biggest club on the coast, seems to be in a mess at the moment. Last year they played some very decent football, conceding almost nothing, but with roughly the same players they aren’t anywhere near hitting their form from last year.
English Premier League – The Scoop
Now the transfer market is closed and the smoke is slowly clearing, the English Premier League is, for the first time in history, home to three Colombians. Radamel ‘El Tigre’ Falcao moved on the last day of the window to Manchester United, completing manager Van Gaal’s masterpiece for the coming season. Carlos ‘the Rock’ Sanchez will be wearing the claret and blue of Aston Villa, following in the footsteps of ‘Villans’ legend Juan Pablo Angel. David Ospina has to defend the goal at Arsenal where he starts behind his Polish rival Szczesny. He will be ‘The Gunners’’ steward in the cup competitions and will be fighting for a regular spot between the sticks.
Following on from former heroes, Falcao, Sanchez and Ospina have a lot to prove to English football fans.