Envigado FC celebrated a second Liga BetPlay Apertura and Finalización double in the 2033 season as an exciting generation of players really hit their stride. The challenge now was for Robinho Lazaró to try and keep hold of his top talents.
But he was pleasantly surprised that, for the first time in a long time, the club received very few offers for its stars. And the potential in the squad was bolstered by promoting three 16-year-olds midfielder Juan Fernando Rivas, centre-back Yaliston Hernández and winger Andrés Sandoval plus 17-year-old striker Jhon Medina.
The potential was further added to by another strong intake that delivered eight “elite talents.” For the second year in a row, the pick of the intake is a centre-back in Diego Ceballos. And the other 5-star potential talent is goalkeeper Oscar González. Other players worth keeping an eye out for are wingers Nolberto Beltrán and Santiago Ortega, midfielders Alejandro Carabalí and Cristian Ortíz, full-back Jhohann Belalcázar and centre-back Rodrigo Aguilar.
The tactic remains pretty similar, with the right-winger changed to an inside forward to accommodate both Mateo Acevedo and Edisón Borrero, the holding midfielder changed to a deep-lying playmaker and the left-winger changed to a support duty.
Lazaró Tastes Success In 800th Match As A Football Manager
Envigado lost the Súperliga last season, but won their fifth super cup success by beating Nacional. Midfielder David Acosta and winger Alirio Plaza earned a 2-0 home win then, in Lazaró’s 800th match in management, they lost 1-0 away. The fact that he’d reached 800 matches in just over 12 seasons was pretty ridiculous – as that averages out at around 66 matches per season!
Apertura Season 13 Kicks Off
Envigado have strangely dropped a place in the season preview, with a predicted 5th-place finish and odds of 8/1 to win Liga BetPlay. Millonarios are still 5/1 favourites followed by Atlético Nacional (11/2), Junior FC (6/1) and Independiente Medellín (7/1). But left-back Andrés Mira, centre-back Rodolfo Vega, winger Jaiber Prince and Acevedo are in the dream 11.
They started the season in style by hammering Bogotá 4-1 led by a Borrero hat-trick. Lazaró handed Rivas his full debut at Deportivo Cali and the youngster got his first career assist with a delicious through-ball for Borrero to score the second in a 2-0 victory. Borrero scored again then created two goals for Prince in a 3-0 win over Independiente but the perfect start ended with a late defeat at Santander.
They got back on track by thumping Petrolera 4-1 led by an Acevedo brace, which saw the striker tie Diego Rodríguez’s club record of 99 league goals. Although Rodríguez had reached that milestone in 167 games, compared to the mere 142 that Acevedo played. A couple of weeks later a rotated side lost 3-2 at Tolima, but Acevedo came off the bench to bag his record-breaking 100th league goal for Envigado.
Lazaró’s established midfield pairing of captain Ronaldo Bermudez and Randi Redín had both started the season in dreadful form. So he’d put his trust in Gianfranco Bahoque and Rivas, who had a combined age of 33. But they delivered at home to Once Caldas as Rivas created the opener for Bahoque, who doubled his tally to inspire a 2-1 win. Two more exciting youngsters stepped up at Cortuluá as Borrero opened the scoring then wingers Cristian Gutiérrez and Plaza sealed a 3-2 victory.
But Rivas and Bahoque were showing serious potential, both getting assists as Borrero scored a hat-trick in a 5-0 hammering of Cúcuta. And the young striker recorded back-to-back hat-tricks as he repeated the feat in a 3-2 victory at Petrolera, who scored twice in the last five minutes. Even more goals flowed in a 5-3 win at home to Junior led by Borrero scoring the fastest goal in Liga BetPlay history after 11 seconds, then Acevedo scored twice before creating goals for Gutiérrez and Bahoque. That lifted Envigado into 2nd and just four points behind Nacional with a game in hand.
Envigado again had Bahoque to thank for rescuing a point at Millonarios then Medina scored on his full debut in a 2-1 win at Llaneros. That put Envigado three points back from Nacional with two games to go and the two sides went head-to-head at Polideportivo Sur in the penultimate game. Medina scored again but his side lost 2-1 defeat to secure 1st place for Nacional.
Brutal Copa Libertadores Group
The workings of the Copa Libertadores group draw remain a complete mystery as, despite winning both league stages last season, Envigado were again listed in Pot 3. Lazaró’s worst fears were confirmed as they drew holders Flamengo, who beat them in last season’s semis, plus Uruguayan side Nacional and a qualifier that turned out to be another Brazilian side Athletico Paranaense.
The group began at the Maracana, where Envigado had conceded 18 in their previous five clashes with Flamengo. So Lazaró went defensive, which didn’t seem to make any difference as they trailed 2-0 inside 17 minutes. So he quickly abandoned that, which saw Prince make it 2-1 then Acevedo equalised seconds into the second half. Flamengo swiftly made it 4-2 but Envigado kept plugging away and Acevedo made it interesting in injury time, but they lost to the Brazilians yet again.
Envigado’s chances looked to be well and truly over as they got battered 5-0 at home by Paranaense. The objective now was to try and qualify for Copa Sudamericana, which was aided by Rivas’ first senior goal securing a 1-1 in Uruguay. They took on Flamengo two days after a league match so Lazaró decided to rest the first team for the inevitable defeat, which arrived in a fairly respectable 3-1 loss before an equally respectable 2-0 defeat at Paranaense. So the Sudamericana place boiled down to playing Nacional at home. And Envigado took it as Borrero returned from injury with yet another treble leading a 4-0 victory.
Finishing second got Envigado a more favourable group alongside Independiente, Santa Fe and Orsomarso. They began at home to Orsomarso, dominated them with 21 shots to 12 and 58% possession and made it count as Borrero and an Acevedo brace sealed a 3-0 win. The exact same result followed at home to Independiente and two days later a rotated team gained a 2-2 at Orsomarso with Sandoval scoring his first senior goal and creating the other for Borrero.
Prince missed two months with a broken while playing for Colombia but returned to score both goals in a 2-1 win at Junior. And they wrapped up the group as a Borrero brace and an Acevedo strike downed 10-man Santa Fe 3-0, which allowed Lazaró to rest players for the final game.
For the third time in a row, the league stage final pitted Envigado against Nacional. Envigado got a good start in the home leg as Borrero scored inside nine minutes only to quickly concede and find themselves 2-1 down early in the second half. But Borrero restored parity before Vega’s header nicked a 3-2 win in injury time. The striker also delivered a bright start in the away leg, latching onto Prince’s pass after seven minutes. Nacional then had a player pretty unfairly sent off before Prince created a second for Borrero. The tie seemed all over at the break but Envigado gifted the hosts a goal back. But they couldn’t mount a comeback and Envigado won 2-1 and 5-3 on aggregate.
Envigado won back-to-back Apertura titles and four straight Liga BetPlay titles!!
This latest success marked Lazaró and Envigado’s 10th Colombian title. They’ve established themselves as the dominant force in Colombian football by winning the last four titles, five of the last six, eight of the last 10 and 10 titles in the last 11 seasons.
Could Lazaró’s team carry this form into the second half of the 2034 campaign? Join us on Monday to find out!
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