The technicians stand up for Antioquia football in the Betplay-2024 League

The technicians stand up for Antioquia football in the Betplay-2024 League
The technicians stand up for Antioquia football in the Betplay-2024 League


As if it were a cruel irony, while four coaches from the region are in home runs ready to fight for the two places for the final of the colombian soccer, All Antioquia teams, both first and second division, were eliminated before the final phase.

First it was Envigado, then Águilas and Nacional. The last one left alive was Medellín, a team that was not given the results on the last day to advance.

Thus, with the Paisa teams eliminated from the ‘8’ for the first time in 21 years, the baton falls on the strategists David González, Leonel Álvarez, Alexis García (he was born in Chocó, but grew up in Medellín and says he is from Antioquia) and Hernán Darío el “Arriero” Herrera.

In general terms, the one who showed the best football was David González with Tolima, who qualified in second place, and was at the top (among the top three) from date 3 to never leave. Behind them, Pereira de Leonel qualified in third place, the second team with the most goals in the tournament (28) along with Millonarios.

For his part, Alexis had one of the most solid teams in the regular phase and placed himself in fifth place, while “Arriero” Herrera suffered in the final stretch, but his conservative play put Once Caldas in the semifinals after almost 6 years.

A common factor that can be found in the four clubs of the Paisa strategists is the consistency in the use of the 4-2-3-1, and, therefore, the prominence of a ’10’ hitch or midfielder, which lately is usually seen less in football.

They have them as the orchestra directors of their teams, and they are one of the figures so far in the championship: Darwin Quintero in Pereira, Yeison Guzmán from Tolima, Johan Rojas for La Equidad and Billy Arce in Once Caldas. While David, Leonel and Alexis have a clear offensive proposal, the “Arriero” aims to keep zero in his goal.

Leonel Álvarez surprised with Pereira

The Mateca team put together a good team for 2024 and brought in a worthy helmsman to take the reins. Leonel Alvarez, who had been free since May 2023 after leaving Cienciano in Peru, left bad feelings in the first 3 dates of the Colombian championship. He had a draw and 2 losses, which placed him in 18th place at the time. Later, in a stellar change for Pereira, he managed to go 11 games without losing, until his match with Deportes Tolima where he lost 2-1 in Ibagué.

Leonel, also with the predominant 4-2-3-1 in the season, positions the team in the opponent’s field and gives priority to the offensive game. He uses Carlos Darwin Quintero and Andrés Ibargüen as two false ‘9’s who constantly enter and leave the area. If you add the wingers on the wing, he has a team full of quickies that generate danger in the rival field. This explains why it is the team with the most successful dribbles per game (8.5), and the second club that scored the most goals during the round-robin (28), along with Millonarios. Pereira qualified by home runs in third position, 4 away from the leaders. But they have a weapon that can represent a threat to any rival: Darwin Quintero, the player who was enhanced by Leonel, and the one who has contributed the most goals in the championship (13), adding his 8 goals and 5 assists.

However, the Paisa coach must be careful in home runs, since he could not beat any team in his group in the regular phase. He lost at home (1-2) against Millonarios and Bucaramanga, and tied 3-3 against Junior in Barranquilla.

The claim of David González

It took less than a year David Gonzalez in putting together a team worthy of the championship with Tolima. It would have been very difficult to imagine that after his departure from Independiente Medellín, where his contract was terminated because Poderoso was close to being left out of the ‘8’, the 41-year-old paisa would have success in such a short period of time.

All of the above, with the nuance that González had already demonstrated his great ability as a coach. He arrived at Rojo in mid-2022 to replace Julio Comesaña, and during his first semester sitting on the bench he managed to get into the final that he would lose on penalties against Pereira, which left some fans with some resentment towards him. His 22 wins, 17 draws and 17 losses were enough for Tolima to trust him as Juan Cruz Real’s replacement.

In the Ibagué squad it automatically “clicked”, and a team that seemed destined for nothing, occupying 17th place on matchday 11, was one game away from qualifying for the 2023-ll final. Thus, with a process since last year, they perpetuated the good game in the present and classified Tolima for home runs in second place.

He maintained the game that he promoted since his arrival at Medellín, which he described in his own words as “an offensive team that always wants to have the ball and when it loses it, recovers it quickly.”

The formation he used the most was the 4-2-3-1, taking advantage of fast wingers like Kevin Pérez or Álex Castro on the sides, and with Yeison Guzmán who had a great level in the all against all as ’10’, but suffered an injury in the final stretch.
Therefore, it is no coincidence that Tolima is the team that scored the most goals in the tournament (31) and, according to SofaScore data, the 3rd in clear chances (31) and second in successful passes per game (350).

The “Arriero” Herrera already knows the meaning of being a champion

It is no coincidence that the Hernán Darío Herrera got the pass Once Caldas to the ‘8’ for the first time in 6 years. On that occasion, the Clausura of 2018, the Manizales team was under the command of Huberth Bodhert. From that moment on, 6 coaches passed by, and among them, only the Arriero returned Blanco Blanco to a classification. He once again demonstrated that he has the ability to take ownership of a team, after overcoming the difficult moment that the club experienced. Manizales in the cycle of Pedro Sarmientoof which the “Arriero” was an assistant, and the disregard he suffered from Nacional after being champion of the Colombia Cup in 2018 and the League in 2022 as interim.

His Once Caldas is a team that gives the ball to the rival and takes advantage of the sides to make quick transitions. For this reason, it is the club with the worst average in possession of the ball in the entire tournament (44.5%). The “Arriero” prefers to protect his bow, and generally succeeds. It is the fourth team that received the fewest goals in the entire championship (16), also the one that added the most red cards (8) and the second with the most yellow cards in the entire championship (56). However, he does not renounce the ’10’ either.

Despite the low number of goals (16) in the round-robin, it has the Ecuadorian Billy Arce as a playmaker, the third player who generated the most great chances in the tournament (6), and the second scorer of the championship, Dayro Moreno with 8 goals, half of what the team scored. With this lock and its two great weapons in attack, Once will fight for its place in the final.

Alexis García, another final for Equidad?

Equity, which has Alexis Garcia On the bench since 2020, he is excited about his fourth final and lifting his first league title. The coach, without a doubt, is living history for the insurance team. He took it to the second division in 2006 and achieved promotion that same year, and finished his first stage in 2012, after achieving a Colombia Cup and three runners-up finishes in Colombian soccer. It seems that this is the opportunity for Alexis to seek revenge. His team was solid from the beginning of the tournament, remaining undefeated until matchday 12, in which they lost to Bucaramanga.

He also focuses his game on attack. Although the coach is distinguished by his defensive style, for 2024 he opted for something different, even though the numbers are not as illuminating. Offensively, La Equidad scored 22 goals in the 19 round-robin games. Little, if you look at it in perspective with teams that were outside the ‘8’ and scored the same number of goals (22) as Medellín, América or Boyacá Chicó, and a club that scored even more (24) by being left out, like Cali. But the above is not for lack of opportunities. It can be explained as low effectiveness, since it is the team with the most shots per game in the tournament (17.3), with the most shots on goal per game (5.5) and the one that had the most shots on the post (11).

Alexis’ change of mentality is understandable if you look at the squad, with good players such as the new figures of the insurance quarry: Elan Ricardo and Johan Rojas. The latter, the top assister of the championship with 6 assists on goals.

Throughout the tournament he alternated between 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3 with a pivot and two mixed in the center. In these last cases, somewhat more reserved, he would sacrifice a winger, sending the ’10’ to the wing to put one more midfielder back and forth.

The other semi-finalist technicians

Rafa Dudamel, Bucaramanga

The Venezuelan gave the team the hope of its first star. It is not unreasonable to think that they can take the title. It is the team with the fewest goals against (10) and the one with the most clean sheets (12 in 19 games). It also has the third best attack (24 goals). He finished in first place in the round robin.

Pablo Peirano, Santa Fe

He returned to Santa Fe the style that distinguished it during its most successful era. Although for many the Uruguayans’ game may seem boring, he still uses his line of 5 in the background and achieves results. He maintains them as the second team that conceded the fewest goals in the championship (12). He moved up from the fourth.

Alberto Gamero, Millionaires

His team was the only one of the homers that on date 10 had not been installed among the 8 classified, and it took until date 17 to take its place. This is his fifth year as an ambassador, a candidate to win his second league with the club, and his fourth title overall dressed in blue. He had a good rebound in the final stretch of the championship.

Arturo Reyes, Junior

He has the possibility of winning a second title with Junior. The current Colombian champion must overcome the shortcomings in defense, since it entered the home runs as the team that received the most goals in the tournament (21) among the 8 qualifiers. In addition, they must face extra matches for the Copa Libertadores, which can physically affect their players.

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