The stage is set for the Liga Postobon play-off quarter finals after Tuesday’s draw paired Junior with Chico, Santa Fe with Itagui, America with Once Caldas and Envigado with Millonarios.
Table toppers Junior will start as clear favorites against Chico, who suffered a severe dip in form towards the end of the season and were fortunate to qualify. However, fresh in the mind of both teams will be the one game in the last five that Chico did win – a 3-0 hammering of Junior. The result showed once again that this young Chico side, while inconsistent, are more than capable of turning on the style when they are in the mood.
Copa Colombia winners Millonarios also seem to be finding form at the right time. When they meet Envigado they will have the added incentive of a Copa Libertadores place on offer. Envigado are currently one place ahead of them in the race for a spot in the continent-wide completion and Millonarios will leapfrog them with a win. However, Envigado have consistently proved one of the most difficult teams to beat in the Liga Postobon and finding a way past their tight defences will be no easy task.
After their late surge up the table, Santa Fe will meet the dark horses of this year’s closing tournament, Itagui. Although the “Golden Eagles” finished in second place, Santa Fe will start as slight favorites due to their top level experience while Itagui will be competing in the play-offs for the first time in their short history. Santa Fe finished three places behind Itagui, but they will point to also having had the distraction of competing in the Copa Sudamericana, in which they reached the quarter-finals.
In the weekend’s last match, Once Caldas will meet troubled America de Cali. America claimed the last play-off spot with a dramatic 4-1over Tolima but have since been hit with the news that goalkeeper Julian Viafara will be hit with a six match ban for failing a drugs test. America also have to contend with playing either Patriotas or Pasto from Liga B for the right to remain in the top flight just 72 hours after their involvement with the play-offs ends. Coach Wilson Piedrahita has already declared the promotion play-off to be his priority. Caldas meanwhile, will be flying high after winning their last three games, scoring 11 goals in the process.
Saturday December 3
6:20 pm America VS Once Caldas
8:00 pm Chico VS Junior
Sunday December 4
3:30 pm Envigado VS Millonarios
5:30 pm Santa Fe VS Itagüi