Tolima v Millonarios
What a difference a month makes. Back at the start of September, Millonarios were in imperious form. They had been for months. They were the model to follow for all other Colombian Primera A teams, built upon a serious process that combined youth and experience and a manager who had committed to a long-term plan. They sat comfortably at the top of the table and, in Daniel Ruíz and Andrés Gómez, had two of the most explosive young talents in the league providing excitement and goals.
Yet ever since, they’ve fallen off the cliff. The midweek 1-0 home loss to Pereira was insipid, stunted and deserved. Boos and jeers greeted the team at the full-time whistle as Millonarios made it six without a win. In his post-match press conference manager Alberto Gamero alluded to a bigger problem than players simply falling out of form. “I’ll be honest, I don’t know what’s going on,” he claimed. “But it’s not just about football.” Rumours are now rife that there’s a big split in the changing room between the older players and the younger ones who feel they are being blamed too much for the team’s fall.
But with a resurgent Tolima waiting, Millonarios need to address their form fast. Their biggest problem is finding the back of the net. The defeat to Pereira on Wednesday meant they have failed to score in four out of their last five games. With Tolima also hardly prolific this season, the smart call is unders.
Junior v Cortulua
It’s all or nothing for Junior here. With two games left Junior need to win both their remaining fixtures to assure their place in the next round. A win and a draw is unlikely to be enough. The pressure’s on and manager Julio Comesaña has admitted it would be “an embarrassment” if Junior were to be knocked out of the title race at this stage. But the good news is that they couldn’t have asked for an easier game to start their mission. Cortuluá are in crisis. It’s a way too overused word in football but in this case, it’s more than deserved.
In all likelihood, the club will cease to exist in a few months with the owner virtually certain to end 30 years of history with the city of Tuluá and drag them to a new town for the start of next year. It’s a sorry story all too common in Colombian football where fans have no say in such important matters. You’d have thought that they’d have suffered enough this season. Already relegated, Cortuluá have won just one of their last 13 games. In fact, in the whole of 2022 they have won only a single game (back in March) on their travels. With nothing to play for, an uncertain future and playing away from home against a far superior team, there’s only one option to back here.
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