Once Caldas of Manizales and Atletico Junior face off in the first leg
of the 2009 Copa Mustang 1 final. Which side takes away the trophy
won’t be known until Sunday, but Wednesday’s game could already give a
good idea of who may win it.
Five years after winning the Copa Libertadores, Latin America’s most prestigious club tournament, Once Caldas appear to be back on top. The Manizales outfit had a bit of good fortune qualifying for the group phase but left a really good impression from there on.
Junior have been the more stable side this season, finishing second in the regular league before surviving a touch group phase with teams such as Deportivo Cali and Cucuta Deportivo.
The head-to-head record shows that whichever of these two sides plays at home in a direct meeting, usually ends up winning it. This season, Junior have been particularly strong at home but not quite as convincing away from their own stadium. The same goes for Once Caldas, although they seem slightly less dependent on the exact location of the game.
The most recent encounter, in February this year, had Junior hold home side Once Caldas to a 1-1 draw.
Bookmakers expect Once Caldas to have the better chances in this match, but acknowledge that this final might be an extremely close battle.
Of the two teams, Junior have the most championship trophies. The Barranquilla outfit won the league five times and lost the final on another five occasions. Once Caldas won it only twice and lost the final once. Junior’s most recent championship was the Copa Mustang II in 2004, while Once Caldas last won it in the first half of 2003. In fact, Once beat Junior 1-0 on aggregate in that final.
‘La gran final’, or at least the first leg of this clash, will be played at Manizales’ Metropolitano Roberto Melendez stadium and starts at 7:30pm local time. Tickets will be hard to conquer on the last day, as fans that also attended Once Caldas’ last match have been given priority to gain access to the final. This Wednesday, anyone may try to buy a ticket although each person is allowed to buy only one entrance. Those that want to go with someone else, should also bring that person when buying tickets.