Equidad v Cortuluá
Time’s almost up for Cortuluá. Their limp 1-0 defeat at home to Once Caldas at the weekend was a hammer blow for their survival hopes. They threw everything at Once but once again fired another blank and with virtually the last kick of the game, goal-shy Once nicked it. With just four games left, Cortuluá have to realistically win three of them. It’s a win total that they have not managed all season (2 wins), and after three games in a row firing blanks, they are surely doomed.
Equidad are looking in the opposite direction. They have perhaps underperformed slightly this season, after setting the bar high in the apertura championship when they challenged for the title. But after a slow start and some inconsistent form, they are stuck in mid-table. A win here though propels them right into the mix for a top-eight finish that will ensure qualification for the next round of the title race. Everything points to this being a home banker, especially considering that Equidad have the second-best home record in the league. Cortuluá have long given up the ghost and look short on confidence and are the most toothless team in the league up front. Normally they’d come here and sit deep knowing that Alexis Garcia’s Equidad sides aren’t at their best when they know they have to dictate play. But they don’t have that luxury here. Only a win will do, which will play into Equidad’s hands. Equidad rarely beat teams by more than one goal, but they should still be fairly nailed on at 1.55 to get the job done here.
Pereira v Envigado
A few months ago, Pereira were struggling. They finished last season with just one win in their final six games as the Risaralda team finished in lower mid-table. But this season they have looked like a completely different team. New manager Alejandro Restrepo came in and began playing a back three with one youth player on the right, Emiro Garces, and two vastly experienced and doddering centre backs beside him. It looked a risky strategy, but it’s largely been very successful, with each player knowing their role and players like Leider Berrio, Carlos Ramirez and Leo Castro offering real quality to the collective. Pereira have pumped well above their skinny weight this season and a win here will leave them within a whisker of qualifying for the next round of the title race with four games left. With two important wins against tough opposition in their last two games, Pereira have also hit form at the right time.
Envigado’s title hopes are pretty much already over. They only have four games left and would have to pretty much win every game to stand any chance. Despite a very fortuitous victory in their last game against relegation scrappers Patriotas, Envigado have still lost three out of their last four. With Pereira set to go out all guns blazing to cement their place in the next round, expect Envigado’s season to end here.
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