A round-up of the latest Colombian football news
Colombia’s impressive performance at the World Cup has left its mark on the international football transfer market with several Colombian players either sealing big-money moves or being linked to some of Europe’s biggest clubs.
Shortly after James Rodriguez was awarded the best goal for his stunning strike against Uruguay at the World Cup and it was announced that Colombia had scooped the Fifa Fair-Play prize, multiple players from this summer’s Los Cafeteros squad were attracting interest in the pre-season transfer scramble.
- The most costly transfer so far this summer has been James Rodriguez who was signed by Real Madrid. The reigning Champions League winners shelled out around 80 million euros to AS Monaco for the services of the creative midfielder.
- David Ospina, the goalkeeper who shone in Brazil for Colombia, has made a shock transfer to Arsenal. No official figure has been released but rumours suggest French top-flight side Nice received 4 million euros for the 25-year-old’s transfer.
- Juan Guillermo Cuadrado is still at Italian club Fiorentina but the tricky winger’s name continues to be linked with a move to Barcelona and Manchester United.
- Less persistent rumours have featured River Plate striker Teófilo Rodriguez, midfielder Fredy Guarin and FC Porto’s Jackson Martinez. And not forgetting Radamel Falcao who is still in demand as he plots his return to first-team action after being sidelined from this year’s World Cup with an ACL rupture. The 28-year-old striker’s future at Monaco is still unclear with a whole host of big clubs rumoured to be interested in securing his signature.
Colombian fans only had to endure four days without football before domestic tournament the Liga Postobon kicked off on July 18. In the capital of Boyaca, Patriotas took just 19 seconds to open their account this season in an easy 3-0 victory over Pasto.
The new season promises to again be a contest between Atletico Nacional, winners of the last three Colombian championships, and the rest of the league. The Medellin side once more start as favourites for this season’s tournament despite losing rising Colombia star Stefan Medina who joined Mexican side Monterrey.
Nacional still boast Alex Mejia who featured for Colombia in Brazil after fending off interest from several teams outside the country. They also have a wide range of exciting players coming through the ranks.
Besides Nacional, Bogotá sides Santa Fe and Millonarios will be looking to challenge for the title as well, while Nacional’s main contender could end up being Junior. The team from the Caribbean coast were only three minutes away from the title last season but an equaliser deep in injury time brought penalties in which Nacional’s momentum left Junior in tears.
With a good pre-season behind them, Los Tiburones (the Sharks) will be aiming for revenge. Behind the top four, Independiente Medellin, Once Caldas, Tolima and Deportivo Cali make up a chasing pack but are very much outsiders for the title.
After a disappointing last season in which Santa Fe couldn’t live up to high expectations in the Copa Libertadores, Los Cardenales released many of their players while manager Wilson Gutierrez also resigned. New Argentine manager Gustavo Costas has come in and will have to work with a smaller squad but can at least count on the team’s most important players still being around. Costas’ team have no distractions from international tournaments this season which might work in their favour. Built around Camilo Vargas, Omar Perez and Wilder Medina, the team will be aiming for their eighth title.
Millonarios manager Juan Manuel Lillo is not to be envied. The Spanish coach has had little money available while star striker Dayro Moreno has also left the club. Last season Millonarios relied heavily on the at times brilliant ex-Colombia forward and when he was off form the team struggled. The squad is very small this year and that will complicate a busy program that includes the Colombian cup and the Copa Sudamericana as well their league campaign. Millonarios will have to depend on talent coming through from their academy and the development of young Peruvian signing Andy Polo. Again it will be mostly up to 37-year-old playmaker Mayer Candelo to guide Millonarios to a record 15th title.
Third Bogotá side Equidad will be aiming to make it to the last eight like last year, but that will be a very difficult task, after coach Nestor Otero saw some important players leave the club and no decent replacements coming in.
Besides this, the manager is not very popular with fans due to his dourness and there’s a lack of creativity in the team.
Fourth Bogotá team Fortaleza will be focused solely on prolonging their stay in the top league. In their first season at the highest level the minnows will have to give everything in order to have a shot at avoiding relegation. Manager Alexis Garcia seems to be the right man for that. With new signing Gerardo Bedoya – the world record holder for red cards (43) – back in action, Garcia will nonetheless have his hands full in achieving this objective.