Millonarios, Independiente Santa Fe and Equidad all failed to qualify for the playoffs after heated Bogotá derby.
A thrilling final round of the regular league saw lots of fireworks, but in the end the Bogotá teams all miss out on the season finale. There was plenty to play for, with eight teams battling for the last four available spots. Of the teams in the capital, Millonarios had the best odds to make it into the top eight, but the last round saw them take on Independiente Santa Fe, an always heated derby and a repetition of last season’s final. A victory in el Campín against the already eliminated hosts would have been enough for the reigning champions, but el embajador looked lacklustre and found Santa Fe determined to fight to the bitter end to deny their long term rivals a space in the top eight out of spite.
Centre back José David Moya scored an early goal from a header for los cardenales and the home side squandered many chances to extend the lead, while the only Millonarios player to reach an acceptable level was goalkeeper Wuilker Fariñez. The 20-year-old from Venezuela showed once again he has got the skills to become a world-class goalkeeper.
Santa Fe failed to put the game to bed and started getting into trouble. Top goalscorer Wilson Morelo was sent off after needlessly punching an opponent, swiftly followed by interim manager Agustín Julio and assistant Gerardo Bedoya for dissent. Despite all the shenanigans, a woeful Millonarios couldn’t take advantage.
That was the second sending off for Gerardo Bedoya in his short career as an assistant manager. The former defensive midfielder is known as a hothead and is the world record holder for red cards: a staggering 45 in his entire career as a player.
In Valle de Cauca, Equidad put up a fight against América de Cali. With still a minor chance of qualifying, los aseguradores took an early lead that momentarily put them into the playoffs, and with main opponents Once Caldas and Millonarios both trailing, they suddenly became the favourite to reach the top eight. A late equaliser from América put a spanner in the works, however, allowing Once Caldas to sneak into the playoffs despite a 4-1 defeat away at Alianza Petrolera.
Favourites for the title are without a doubt Atlético Nacional, who have a tough quarterfinal against Deportivo Cali. Los verdolagas cruised through both the league and their Copa Libertadores group and are miles ahead of the rest. Independiente Medellín and Junior are the next favourites, but meet each other next in the quarterfinals. In Medellín, top goalscorer Germán Cano and winger Yairo Moreno have been the key players that brought them to second place in the league this season.
The program of the final stages is as follows:
First leg quarter-finals: May 12 and May 13
First leg semi-finals: May 29 and May 30
First leg final: June 6
Deportes Tolima provided the surprise of the second half of the season, unbeaten in their last eight league games and climbing to third place. With a solid midfield and Sebastián Villa and Angelo Rodríguez providing a lethal partnership up front, they are a dark horse for the title. They face Once Caldas in the playoffs.
Atlético Huila were the other surprise of the season, being extremely decent with a rock solid defence. Their 22-year-old goalkeeper Geovanni Banguera had a sensational breakthrough season with his spectacular shot stopping. Los opitas lost the momentum at the end of the season, though, and go into the playoffs against fellow minnows Patriotas Boyacá having lost three games on the spin.