Atletico Nacional is the new Colombian champion. ‘Los Verdolagas’ has won Deportivo Cali 5-1 in the second leg match at Estadio Atanasio Girardot in Medellin on Sunday night and erased Cali’s 0-2 advantage form the first match. It was well-deserved championship for the best team in Colombia this semester, who broke several records until they reached their 16th star in the history.
After their amazing 2016 year, not many people thought that Nacional can maintain their good form. In the Copa Libertadores 2017 they were crashed big time and were the 4th Libertadores champion to be eliminated in groups stage the year after. But regarding the local league, Nacional’s domination has never been so significant. due to their Libertadores performance, Nacional managed to play the local league not only with their A team, but also with their B and sometimes C team. Despite that fact, the team broke almost every record and finished the regular phase with 49 points in 20 games, the highest ever. Their only loss came in the last match vs. Independiente Medellin (4-3).
Matheus Uribe. In less then six months became one of Nacional’s most important players
The performance decreased a bit when the playoff started, but Nacional always find the character to close the deal against complicated opponents. The away match vs. Jaguares in the quarter final was easy and ended in a 3-1 win for Nacional, but it was also their last easy game. Jaguares amazed them in the 2nd leg in Medellin and went up 2-0 to equalize the series, but in the last 30 minutes Nacional’s character once again appeared and when the team decided to play, they scored three goals to win the match 3-2.
This character repeated itself in the semi final as well vs. Millonarios. In the first leg in Bogota, Millonarios dominated the match but Nacional was very effective to secure a good result (0-0) and to decide the series at home. Although Millonarios was a tough rival and it looked like penalties will decide the winner, a late header from Dayro Moreno in the last seconds of the match, gave Nacional the ticket to the final.
Dayro Moreno is the only player to finish as the league top scorer for the fifth time with three different clubs
Deportivo Cali was the opposite of Nacional. Their regular season wasn’t brilliant and they qualified to the playoff only in the last couple of games, but in the playoff it was a different team. Cali had to meet first a strong side like Independiente Medellin and a brilliant first match (4-1) gave them the ticket to the semi final despite a 1-3 loss in the second match. Deportivo also won the fierce rival, America Cali, in the semi final and came with high hopes to win their 10th championship. Their first match vs. Nacional in Cali was their best game and the worst of Nacional. For the first time in a long time, Nacional was completely dominated by their rival. Cali scored twice and missed a penalty to win 2-0, but had so many chances to score and seal the deal, chances which now they are sorry for not scoring them.
Nacional’s history is full with comebacks. It happens several times too, so not many people close the championship before the game in Medellin. Everyone knows that when Nacional is being pushed by their fans, it’s something very powerful. Junior Barranquilla felt it when they won at home 0-3 in the 2004 final but lost the second match 2-5 just to win the title in penalties. Everyone knew that Nacional will press since the beginning. Everyone besides Cali. The visitors were in shock to see Nacional went up 0-2 after only 15 minutes, although Duque’s goal one minute later, put Cali’s again in advantage on aggregate. We say character? Ibarguen scored a beauty for Nacional 5 minutes before then end of the half and Nacional completed the comeback with two more goals in the second half. 5-1 at the end, justice victory for the best team in the country.
Goalkeeper Franco Armani. As always, huge part in the title, the player who won the most titles with the clubs
Besides the points record in regular season, Nacional also broke the total points record (including the playoff) with 62, scored 45 goals and received only 15 (Franco Armani kept his clean sheet 13 times). How depth the team had was the fact that these 45 goals were scored by 14 different players: Dayro Moreno (14), Arley Rodríguez (6), Mateus Uribe (5), Andrés Ibargüen (3), Macnelly Torres (3), Rodin Quiñones (3), Luis Carlos Ruiz (3), Alejandro Bernal (2), Cristian Dájome (2), Aldo Leao Ramírez (2), Óscar Franco (1) y Daniel Lloreda (1).
Reinaldo Rueda with tears of joy. The most successful coach in the history of Nacional
Nacional is also the first team to make a comeback from a 0-2 defeat in the first match. Nacional has won title number 28 in all competitions, by far the most titles between Colombian teams. The league system has advantages and disadvantage but in this case it was really injustice to see a different team takes title. Nacional of the game in Medellin for the first time this semester looked like the 2016 Copa Libertadores champions. And above all this amazing team, the head coach Reinaldo Rueda. The most successful coach in the history of the club with six titles including Copa Libertadores. His future is not decided yet, but there’s a good chance that his tears in at the end of the game were also tears of goodbye.