The streets of Envigado had witnessed their fair share of wild parties greeting their fútbol heroes’ rapid rise to success. But the summer of 2037 saw a seemingly neverending fiesta callejera as manager Robinho Lazaró and his team of young homegrown stars partied with their adoring fans having lived up to the “La Cantera De Heroes” – the quarry of heroes – motto.
Lazaró’s team had proven their ability to trouble some of South America’s top sides over the last few years. But no-one seriously expected Envigado to become Champions of South America anytime soon. Yet that was the feat they achieved as a 2-1 victory over Santos saw them lift Copa Libertadores. And that success saw Envigado become the 13th most reputable club in South America.
Getting his team back to training after such a long period of partying was going to be tough, let alone getting them refocused to attempt to defend their league title double and take on South America’s best again. While Lazaró’s commitment to the club was tested by Brazilian giants Flamengo offering him a job interview – but he remained committed to the cause.
The summer saw zero major outgoings and a slightly disappointing youth intake, which convinced Lazaró to change his head of youth development when their contract expired in December. But the pick of this year’s intake was two midfielders in Aldair Candanoza and Roddy Atancio plus centre-back Yesingeur Ariza, winger Edison Salazar and goalkeeper Jeysen Marimón. But there’s probably not too much to get excited about here.
Early Silverware Opportunities
Lazaró had two opportunities to win more silverware as Envigado entered Recopa Sudamericana and the Colombian Súperliga. First up was Recopa, in which they took on Sudamericana winners Operário Ferroviário. Mateo Acevedo’s last-minute goal nicked a 1-0 win in Brazil then Operário won 1-0 in another tight game in Colombia. That took it to extra time and Acevedo was once again the hero with a 117th-minute strike.
They then took on Junior FC in the domestic super cup and a rotated side won the first leg 2-1. But they lost the return leg 1-0, which took it to penalties. Envigado scored all five spot-kicks but José Mosquera was the hero by saving Junior’s fifth. And they lifted a record 7th title.
These two victories took Lazaró and Envigado to 30 total trophy wins, with 14 cup successes in addition to 16 league stage titles!
Seeking More Apertura Glory
Envigado were now massive favourites to win Liga BetPlay, with the bookies making them 8/5 for the title followed by Millonarios (9/2) and Junior FC (10/1). While eight Envigado players are in the media dream 11.
And they proved why they were such big favourites as, fresh from parading the Copa Libertadores trophy around Polideportivo Sur ahead of the season opener, they duly battered newly-promoted Llaneros 7-1, which was a new club-record win. Edisón Borrero got a hat-trick, Acevedo went one better with four goals and Cristian Gutiérrez got an assist hat-trick.
They backed that up by winning 4-0 in their first away day at Cúcuta with Borrero scoring two more then midfielder and vice-captain Gianfranco Bahoque and striker Jhon Medina earned a 2-0 win over local rivals Nacional. Acevedo, Bahoque and his replacement Juan Fernando Rivas scored in a 3-0 win at América. Rotation saw a few dropped points but they still had enough to be comfortably top scorers with 48 goals and finished 2nd to Millonarios. And Borrero and Acevedo were the top scorers in the league with 13 and 12 goals respectively.
Libertadores Defence Begins With Tough Group
South American champions Libertadores weren’t given any favours as their defence began with a group alongside Palmeiras, Independiente and Paraguayan side Libertad.
They started with a trip to Argentina and an Acevedo earned a 1-1 draw. Acevedo was excellent again as he scored twice along with a late Borrero strike as they beat Palmeiras 3-0 at home, Borrero scored both in a 2-0 win in Paraguay and Acevedo followed suit again in a 3-0 win at home to Libertad. They came close to qualifying as they lost a thriller 4-3 at Palmeiras and wrapped up the group by defeating Independiente 2-0 with a tidy Borrero finish and an Acevedo penalty.
Envigado got a post-season group with Junior, Cúcuta and Once Caldas. They began by hammering Junior 4-1 with Acevedo scoring two and creating the other two for Bahoque and Diego Mena. Exciting young winger Juan José Vizcaino scored as a rotated side won 2-1 at Cúcuta, Yelkin Montero nicked a 1-0 win at Once Caldas then a Borrero hat-trick led a 5-0 home hammering of Cúcuta. And that was enough to qualify for the Final with two games remaining, which as lucky as the entire first team was on international duty!
The league stage final paired Envigado with Deportivo Cali, but their chances of maintaining their domination of the competition looked unlikely as half the first team was still away on international duty. But luckily they still had Borrero, who opened the scoring then created the second for promising striker Yan de Armas to seal a 2-1 win in the away leg. And de Armas and Bahoque scored again in a 4-0 home win.
Envigado won a 6th successive Apertura and a 7th successive Colombian league stage title!!
Furthermore, this latest success saw Lazaró enter the worldwide Hall of Fame for the first time, climbing into 19th just behind Jock Stein.
Even More Potential At Envigado
In addition to their continental success, Envigado’s under 20s defended their Copa Libertadores U20s crown. They defeated Olimpia 3-0 in the Final, with 16-year-old de Armas winning the competition’s Best Player award. And the power of Envigado’s youth academy is highlighted by having 14 graduates in the Colombia squad, then eight Envigado players were called up to the Colombia squad for World Cup 2038: Acevedo, Diego Ceballos, Eder Franco, Yaliston Hernández, Mena, Montero, Mosquera and Rivas.
Could Envigado carry their strong form into a fourth-successive double? And how far could they go in their Libertadores defence? Join us on Monday to find out!
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