Cortuluá v Once Caldas
It’s now or never for Cortuluá. In the relegation table, it’s pretty much now a three-way fight, with two out of Cortuluá, Union Magdalena and Patriotas on their way to the second division. And it’s Cortuluá who look the most likely to drop down to the second division. They are in the poorest form and their overall points haul is heavily based on their performance in the apertura championship. Yet this is a golden opportunity to reduce the gap on their relegation rivals and make a bold stab at survival.
In truth, backing them is a hard argument to make. They’ve won just one of their last ten games, a controversial victory over Deportivo Cali that saw angry fans invade the pitch. Since then they’ve played two games against weak opposition and failed to score a goal. But at home and against struggling Once, they have a real chance. Once are in a major rut. Last week’s shock home defeat to Jaguares, turfed them out of the top 8 for the first time in weeks. Their overwhelming problem continues to be up front where they can’t score for love nor money. With leading scorer Ayron del Valle looking jaded, they’ve failed to find a replacement for his goals.
No team hoping to make the top eight, will do so with a record like Once’s recent run of just one goal in their last four games. Cortuluá may spy their chance to pounce upon a rare win. But under 2.5 is the better shout.
Atlético Nacional v Rionegro Águilas
A win here and Nacional are home and dry. With 30 points on the board, they will be assured of a place in the final stages of the title race with four games left. That’s hardly surprising given they are Colombia’s biggest and most successful team. But that wasn’t the picture just a few weeks ago after their 4-3 defeat to DIM in the Medellín clásico that left Nacional slumped well down the table. That result cost the previous manager his job. Since then the ultra-defensive Pedro Sarmiento, who many fans joke values a 0-0 draw over a win, has turned the team’s fortunes around. He’s gone back to basics and with a squad as strong as Nacional’s, it has paid dividends. After exacting revenge over DIM midweek with their latest win since Sarmiento took over, Nacional made it six games without defeat. For the new coach, the most pleasing part must be the team’s defensive performances since he has taken over with four clean sheets already in the bag. Against Rionegro, a side one place below them in the table, emphasis will again be on keeping the opposition quiet. Under 2.5 is therefore worth a look at 1.62, but in the form, Nacional are in at the moment, I’d favour the home win.
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