La Liga Águila: Junior de Barranquilla impresses

By Freek Huigen August 9, 2017
La Liga Águila, Junior de Barranquilla

Teófilo Gutiérrez (right) has been part of the reason for Junior’s great start to the season.

Six rounds into the league and though Independiente Santa Fe lead the standings, it is Junior de Barranquilla who have impressed more than any other team.

Teófilo Gutiérrez and Yimmi Chará were surprise signings from Junior de Barranquilla this summer and neither has disappointed in the first weeks of the season. The defence of El Tiburón still looks a bit vulnerable but they have such an amount of quality up front that they are one of the favourites for the title. They proved their credentials with football showcases against Atlético Nacional and Millonarios.

Santa Fe had a surprise start to the season with new manager Gregorio Pérez. The former assistant of the Uruguay national team had come off some unfortunate spells in Paraguay and Tolima, but he’s made El Cardenal a fortress. Santa Fe don’t look spectacular, but they combine a strong defensive block with a dynamic midfield. New signing Wilson Morelo has to put the goals in the net. The striker played an important role in the Copa Sudamericana victory in 2015, earning a transfer to Mexico. That didn’t really work out so he is back at his former team and already leads the top goalscorer table.

Six rounds into the season, Atlético Nacional is still debuting new players. It looked like they had missed the boat as Andrés Uribe and Andrés Ibargüen, two important players last season left after signing juicy contracts abroad and few replacements came in. But in recent weeks they’ve brought in Andrés Rentería and Steven Lucumí as well as Basque defensive midfielder Gorka Elustondo, who followed his former manager Juan Manuel Lillo from Athletic Club Bilbao in Spain. Nacional have yet to find their strongest team but will be a strong contender for the title.

Millonarios haven’t had a good start to the season, taking one point out of three games against rivals Junior de Barranquilla, Santa Fe and Independiente Medellín, which raises questions about the strength of the team. They will get an easier run of games that will probably see them back in the top eight, but they haven’t found their best form yet after a decent last season. Their first upcoming test is against Equidad which could be an interesting match. The third team from Bogotá play an energetic game with lots of pressure on the opponent’s goal, and the results have been fairly good, making them an outside shout for the top eight.

The relegation battle is also going full force, Tigres are 11 points behind and is almost certainly doomed, but América de Cali, Jaguares, Cortulua and Atlético Bucaramanga are all within five points of each other, battling to avoid being the second team that is on their way to the second division.