Rionegro Aguilas v Millonarios
Millonarios are once again top of the pile. Under manager Alberto Gamero, the Bogotá side have established themselves as one of the strongest teams in the country after years of stuttering decline. With the biggest xG in the league in 2022, Millonarios are creating chances, but their problem in the first half of the year has been their prolificacy up front. Hence why Gamero brought in striker Luis Carlos Ruiz from Cortulua, who has improved the team considerably since his arrival in June. In every single game this season Millonarios have outscored their rivals’ xG, often comfortably so. With Ruiz finally putting the ball in the net, it’s no surprise to see that Millonarios are currently on a five-game winning streak. If they can perform when it matters at the tail-end of the season, they will be the team to beat in this year’s clausura championship.
Rionegro are far less predictable. Despite a couple of impressive results this season (the 3-0 win over Equidad stands out), Rionegro are still in familiar lower mid-table territory. While their home form has so far been decent, they are still no match for Millonarios. The price on making it a sixth consecutive Millonarios win is a very reasonable 2.2. But at 1.57 try the sure-fire Millonarios no bet option for easy profit.
Equidad v América
Equidad are infamous in Colombia for their reactive and defensive anti-football. In a Colombian radio show this week, listeners were asked: which team do you hate to watch? The results were thoroughly unscientific but nonetheless unanimous: Equidad. For the best part of the last decade the tiny Bogotá side have stuck with one manager, Alexis Garcia, who has become almost bigger than the club itself. And if there’s one team in Colombia with a clear philosophy of how to play the game it’s Equidad.
Criticism of Equidad is often snobbish and unfair. Equidad regularly punch above their weight in reaching league finals on the back of a measly fan-base of about 300 supporters. At times, they are a bit like watching George Graham’s Arsenal side of the early 1990s: very organised, rigidly disciplined, quite dirty and happy to defend deep when taking the lead. For Alexis, winning 1-0 is the perfect result. However, something’s slightly changed this season.
In their last few games, Alexis has ditched the low block and has often been caught attacking with every player in the opposition half. Their xG – both for and against – reflects this, as Equidad have opened the door to a more expansive style of play. In half their games this season Equidad have shipped two or more goals, unthinkable in previous campaigns. Has Alexis found new confidence in his team? Has he realised the attacking potential in this particular side? Is he simply bored with the criticism of his dour style? It’s too early to say and the sample size is still surely too small to extrapolate into any big conclusions. But with big guns America in town, and in front of a likely hostile crowd of at least 20,000 America fans (game was shifted to the much bigger El Campin to fill the Equidad coffers), this is a game set up just as Alexis loves to play. Only this time expect more attacking oomph from the home side, and a much more open game that we’ve become accustomed to from Colombia’s very own Don Anti-football.
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