The last couple of weeks have seen Colombia’s national team lead the nation on a stomach-churning ride of highs and lows, from the horror of falling three goals behind to Chile within 45 minutes, to the ecstasy of storming back to draw the game and book their place in the World Cup finals for the first time since 1998.
From the calamitous mistake of keeper David Ospina gifting a goal to Paraguay and a red card for Freddy Guarin leaving Colombia looking forlorn in the rain of Asuncion, to another comeback and another win, securing the high FIFA ranking that will see Colombia go into Brazil 2014 as part of the group of top seeds.
These memorable weeks saw hatchets buried and club rivalries forgotten as fans pulled on their yellow jerseys to support Colombia – there were even reports that a Millonarios fan hugged a Santa Fe fan after Radamel Falcao scored the decisive goal against Chile just six minutes before full time.
But now the Liga Postobon returns, hopefully without the hatchets, and we can look forward to a weekend of club action in which Pasto will expect to continue their quiet march into the play-off positions, Cali will hope to upset Millonarios in their own backyard, and Medellin will want to make a goal-drenched statement of intent against lowly Quindio.
Friday, October 18th – 7:45pm
Pasto vs. Huila
On Friday night second-placed Pasto take on Huila at home in the southwestern Pacific state of Nariño. Pasto have been quietly moving up the table, and have won their last three matches on the trot to cap a run of eight games unbeaten.
In their last game Pasto swept away La Equidad 4-1 with two goals from Julian Lalinde, who now has seven for the season. They now sit one point ahead of third-placed Cali, although they have little chance of catching Nacional at the top of the table, who are eight points ahead with just four games remaining.
Pasto should expect to put a bit of breathing space between themselves and Cali against a Huila side that is currently in the relegation zone. They have mustered a paltry 12 points from 14 games, although they had a rejuvenation of sorts after two wins in their last three games. Their first wins since mid-August.
Part of the reason for Huila’s recent revival is the return of injured first-team players, but in the last week four players were struck down with injury – Francisco Cordoba, Efrain Viafara, striker Cristian Mejia, and Uruguayan Mario Leguizamon – meaning that a draw is probably the best they can hope for.
Saturday, October 19th – 7:45pm
Millonarios vs. Cali
The big clash on Saturday sees third-placed Cali travel to Bogota to take on fourth-placed Millonarios. Just two points separate the two teams, but if the form guide is anything to go by then Cali will have extended that gap to five points by full-time.
Millonarios are in the midst of an indifferent run of form with just one win from their last six games, including a depressing 2-0 defeat to bitter rivals Nacional in their last home game.
By contrast, Cali have only conceded two goals in a seven-game unbeaten streak that includes a 5-0 drubbing of relegation-favorites Quindio away from home. Indeed, Cali have been significantly more dangerous when playing away from home than at their Cali base, and so their mullet-loving coach Leonel Alvarez should expect his team to take all three points in Bogota.
Monday, October 20th – 7:30pm
Medellin vs. Quindio
On Monday, Medellin will be hoping to put Quindio to the sword and create some breathing space between themselves and the bottom end of the relegation league.
“The Powerful” have been looking distinctly impotent recently, losing their last match to Itagui 1-0 after a left-footed finish from substitute Jorge Aguirre, and snatching a lucky draw in the game before against league-leaders and rivals Nacional.
Quindio should be easy pickings, despite a good run of form by their standards – two wins in three games. Before that they lost eight out of 11 games, which is why the team from Colombia’s coffee hills will almost certainly be relegated this season.