Aguilas v Medellín
Aguilas have found form at the perfect time. Eight games unbeaten they sit top of their semi-final group game with two games played. A victory here would leave them with one foot in the final. And what an achievement that would be for such a modest team. Never before have they reached a league final. In fact, up until a few years ago they didn’t even have a stable home. But this season under former Colombia manager Leonel Alvarez, Aguilas have just got better and better as the season has worn on. Unlike some of their rivals, Aguilas have been very lucky with injuries, especially with key players like striker Marco Perez, main playmaker Auli Oliveros and 22-year-old midfield starlet, Kevin Castaño. But it’s in defence where Aguilas have surprised most of all.
They don’t have a big squad and on paper their defence looks mid-table material at best. But Alvarez has had the chance to work heavily with a largely unchanged starting XI all season and they’re now all singing from the same hymn sheet. In their last four games, they haven’t conceded a single goal and against Medellín the orders will again be to keep it tight. Medellín themselves had an important win midweek away at América meaning a draw here would set things up nicely for this reverse fixture at their place in their next game. Everything suggests this will be a cagey affair and thus unders is the call to follow.
Santa Fe v Junior
Junior manager Julio Comesaña has already thrown in the towel. He’s only been in charge of the Barranquilla giants for 14 games, in this his tenth different stint in charge of the team. But after two defeats on the trot in the semi-final group stages and a crushing home defeat to Millonarios midweek, Comesaña has claimed his team weren’t even good enough to have qualified for the penultimate stage of the Colombian title race. He was singing a very different tune when he took over in September. And it’s frankly quite absurd that he should claim Colombia’s most expensive squad, one that includes strength in depth and quality across the pitch, be inadequate to make the top eight of the championship. Quite rightly he’s been ridiculed and it’s starting to look increasingly likely that he will leave his post for a tenth time at the end of the season. Admittedly he’s had a lot of injury and suspension problems.
Junior were without 13 players midweek versus Millonarios and, while a couple will return for this game against Santa Fe, they are far from full strength. Like in the Colombian Cup final 10 days ago, Junior will come to the dizzying heights of Bogotá’s El Campin to defend deep and hit Santa Fe on the counter attack. But Santa Fe are too wily to be surprised by such a basic tactical game-plan. With an injury crisis, morale on the floor and a manager who’s already given up, expect Santa Fe to hammer the final nail in Junior’s season here.
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