The Liga Águila has completed round 15 and, with only five rounds to go, the surprise leader is Envigado. The smallest league club in Medellín brought in a new manager from Spain, the 34-year-old Ismael Rescalvo. Envigado has traditionally one of the best youth academies in the country. The new manager represents an attractive style of football, which makes for a potent combination when mixed with talented young players. Right now, Envigado is a dangerous team and an outsider for the title. With Jefferson Martínez, the club may well have the future Colombia goalkeeper in their side, while Cristian Arango, back from a failed spell at Valencia, is a constant threat up front.
Patriotas and Independiente Medellín share second place behind Envigado. The side from Tunja plays some attractive attacking football, with their wingers being their biggest strength. Mexican-American Uvaldo Luna turned out to be a sensation on the right this season, while Mauricio Gómez on the left never gets tired, swinging in cross after cross. He’s a decent finisher as well. If Patriotas qualify for the top eight, it will be the first time in their history. However, they will need to keep picking up points if they want to get in, as in previous tournaments they have had a tendency to bottle it towards the end.
Medellín, Atlético Nacional and Independiente Santa Fe are all in the top eight, despite their triple duty in the domestic league, Copa Sudamericana and the Colombian cup tournament. Nacional plays so many games, rotating players to keep the team fresh, that Colombia’s left back Farid Díaz has only played three league games this season. Santa Fe suffered a dramatic elimination in the Copa Sudamericana. After the title holders defended a 2-0 lead in Paraguay against Cerro Porteño, a 4-1 defeat in the return leg put an end to their aspirations of defending their title.
The Colombian honours in the Copa Sudamericana are still being defended by Medellín, Nacional and Junior from Barranquilla, who are in the quarter finals, making Colombia the country with the strongest representation at this stage of the tournament. Junior has not been able to combine their Copa success with a good domestic tournament. The side with Giovanni Hernandez in charge had a good start to the season, but a six-match winless streak saw them sliding down the table, making it very difficult to qualify for the top eight.
Bogotá’s other big club, Millonarios, hasn’t played a game in six weeks due to the fact that their stadium El Campin is closed and they played their home games in advance. The side is on the cusp of the top eight and the six weeks should have given new manager Diego Cocca the opportunity to train a clear system into the side. With a tricky schedule still to come, they are all but certain to make the top eight.
The bottom two clubs have almost certainly been sentenced to the second division. Boyaca Chicó need to close a 13 point gap to save them from relegation, while Fortaleza has 12 points to catch up. That means Jaguares at number 18 seem safe. With only five games to go, it will take nothing short of a miracle for the other two to stay in the first division.