Sports are one of the places society turns to for normalcy, but the shadow of nationwide protests still looms over the sixth week of Colombia’s top league.
After having to play a delayed game shorthanded earlier this week due to road closures in the Boyaca department, Patriotas will sit out this weekend, as their match against defending league champions Atletico Nacional was postponed until October, due to the impossibility of road travel into Tunja, the Boyaca capital, and the violence of the protests in the surrounding area.
Doubt still surrounds some of the weekend’s other fixtures, including Cucuta’s visit to the Manuel Morillo Toro stadium in Tolima, where protests have also been strong, and Boyaca Chico’s road match against Bogota‘s Equidad — last week, Chico was unable to make it from Tunja to Bogota to play Millonarios. So far, however, no announcements have been made either way.
Of the games not under jeopardy, Santa Fe’s trip to Cali promises to be one of the better matchups. After starting the season out somewhat shakily, the first place ‘Cardinals’ have regained the late season form that saw them through to the previous Colombian championship. A double from league goal leader Silvo ‘Pulpo’ Gonzalez, including a bicycle kick from 10 yards out that’s been the goal of the season so far, sealed a win for the visitors last week.
Cali, on the other hand, has been dealing with a recent flood of injury problems, and were shutout earlier in the week in a disappointing road loss to Huila. Anytime a coach begins publicly blaming the field for losses, there’s a certain sense that the team is in trouble, but a win at home would catapult Cali over the league runner-ups in the standings, which are still close at the top of the table.
Expect a showing from Independiente de Medellin, who sparkled last week in a 4-0 road domination, and play host Sunday to an Once Caldas squad that barely pulled out a tie at home on Wednesday and got shelled by Millonarios and Cali earlier in the season.
Junior, too, have caught the smell of blood as of late. After the 5-1 thrashing they gave Cucuta this week, they’ll be back in Barranquilla this weekend, playing host to a Huila team that is scraping by at the top of the relegation zone, despite a surprise win last week against Cali. With two of the top-five leading goal scorers in the campaign, Junior will look to show off their exciting brand of attacking football in front of the home fans, and continue their push for the top spot in the league.
This year’s early surprise, though, has been Pasto. Without a single player with more than a single goal so far, they’ve put up impressive team performances against top-table competition, and could jump up to first or second place in the league with a road win against Millionarios, who trail them by two points in the standing. If slow and steady wins the race, then Pasto, who have 8 points despite not having scored two goals in the same game all season, could make a run — or jog, rather — down the road in the tournament.