Freek Huigen takes a look at what the year holds for Colombia’s clubs – no clear favourite will make for an interesting season
The Liga Aguila has kicked off and the clubs have their teams ready for the Apertura 2015. With Cucuta and Cortulua joining the domestic tournament after winning the controversial promotion tournament for ‘traditional teams’, and Jaguares de Cordoba making their debut on the highest level upon winning the second division, the 20 teams started a fresh season with a new format.
The top 8 will qualify for the quarter finals and from there it will be a 2-leg quarter, semi and final to decide the champion.
In Bogota we can expect some high-class football this season. Reigning champion Santa Fe has already picked up its first prize by beating Atletico Nacional in the domestic super cup final. Gustavo Costas’ team kept big stars Omar Perez and Daniel Torres in the house and will be one of the favourites for this year’s league. The squad that saw Colombia’s second goalkeeper in line Camilo Vargas leave to rival Atletico Nacional will also appear in the Champions league of South America, Copa Libertadores.
The the chance to compete in the Copa Libertadores is very prestigious but the downside is the crazy amount of 34 matches between both tournaments, they will have to play in five months to be able to win the title.
One of the big rivals for the title this year, Atletico Nacional, knows how this can affect a team’s season. As big favourites last year they played a staggering 50 matches in just one semester, this clearly had something to do with them missing out on the season final leaving the title to Santa Fe. For Nacional, this year will be heavy again. Their biggest news was managing to keep Colombia’s best manager Juan Carlos Osorio on board. Countering that were the transfers of star players Edwin Cardona,
Alexander Mejia and Sherman Cardenas to Mexico and Brazil for high-paying contracts. New signings are not expected to have the same impact on the team.
With the Copa Libertadores tournament next to the league they are not looking like the big favourites this year, but a leading role in the battle for the title will still be Nacional’s share.
The other team from Medellin, Deportivo Independiente Medellin looks to be the biggest contender. The surprise from last season, making it comfortably to the season finale, had to say goodbye to 2014 league’s top goal scorer German Cano. But manager Hernan Torres managed to put together a very competitive team for the 2015 season. A big advantage for Medellin in the contention for the title is that they won’t have the extra travel schedule and matches in the Copa Liberadores on the agenda.
Behind the three favourites a group of teams with Deportivo Cali, Atletico Junior, Once Caldas and Deportes Tolima are outsiders for the title. In Barranquilla, Junior surprised many people by contracting ex-Colombian international Macnelly Torres, freeing him of his contract in Saudi Arabia.
Other outsider Millonarios, the second Bogota side, starts this season in fresh spirits. In the disastrous last year, they had a 12 match losing streak, costing manager Juan Manuel Lillo his job. They finally finished in 15th place in the league, even below relegated side Fortaleza, which made it a season to quickly forget. With Ricardo Lunari for the group and 14-time former Argentine international Federico Insua as playmaker they are expected to have a better season than last year, but whether they will play for the title is yet to be seen.
Third Bogota side Equidad comes off a disastrous season in 2014, finishing rock-bottom of the table. The club replaced manager Otero and changed 70 percent of their players, signing over 15 new players. With Santiago ‘Sachi’ Escobar as manager for the revitalized group, Equidad could become one of the surprises of this season. The manager stands for a fresh and spectacular style of play, good for many goals but also risking many goals scored against them.
An interesting season awaits us in the Liga Aguila 2015 without a clear favourite title favourite, with new managers and renovated teams, it is very difficult to predict the scores, but The Bogota Post will be following it closely.
|Follow your teamIf you like to watch the matches live on television, DirecTV offers a contract with Winsports, official broadcaster of the Liga Aguila 2015 who broadcasts all matches live in Colombia.
It is obviously much nicer to follow your team from the stadium. Season tickets have gone quick in some teams, Independiente Medellin has sold nearly all of them but other teams still have many left.
The cheapest season ticket to get is Uniautonoma from Barranquilla, costing 50,000 pesos for the season and cup, breaking down to less than $2 USD per game. Uniautonoma is closely followed by Envigado at 55,000 pesos per person. Like most things, Bogota is a bit more expensive than that. The Equidad season tickets go for 100,000 pesos, Millonarios cheapest season ticket goes for 210,000 pesos, while reigning champion Santa Fe charges 194,000 for the cheapest season ticket.
By Freek Huigen