With Barcelona claiming the title without playing on Wednesday there was only the Copa Libertadores and last relegation place left to settle.
Despite losing 2-1 Independiente claimed a historic Libertadores place for the first time in their history. The minnows from Sangloqui are regarded as Ecuador’s best young team but it remains to be seen if they can step up to continental level. They will be joined by Barcelona, Emelec and Liga.
Macara put any fears of last day relegation behind them with a thumping 4 – 0 win against Deportivo Quito. The game was dominated by a dreadful refereeing display where he denied a legitimate goal, sent two players off and awarded a dubious penalty. Deportivo looked dreadful without Saritama (released) and Paredes (moved to Barcelona) and deserved the heavy defeat.
El Nacional beat Tecnico Universitario 3 – 1 to ensure their safety and condemn Universitario to the second division.
On Sunday it was back to the Atahaulpa Stadium to watch the current champions : Deportivo Quito against the champions elect: Barcelona.
Although i arrived with my friend at the stadium 15 mins before the game it took at least half an hour to get into the Atahaulpa. Long lines were snaked around the ground with the police doing their disorganised best to slowly, filter the throngs throw the narrow, turnstiles. One gate was for blue and red bedecked fans of Deportivo the others for the vast amount of yellow, Barcelona” hinchas”.
Only when Barcelona had scored and the many fans became restlessness did the police and authorities begin to shepherd the fans through at a acceptable rate.
Barcelona enjoy a huge support in both in Quito and Guayaquil and are probably only matched in popularity with Liga de Quito. Although the base of support is in Ecuador’s biggest city they can count on supporters from all over the country.
In much the same way Rangers and Celtic attract fans from all over Scotland, Barcelona and Liga gather the most fans from all over Ecuador.
In recent years the Quito teams have dominated league titles with Deportivo Quito, El Nacional and Liga sharing 9 titles between them. You have to go back to 1997 for Barcelona’s last title although city rivals Emelec did win the title in 2001 and 2002.
Upon entering the stadium it was clear that the Deportivo Quito fans or “chullas” were totally outnumbered by about 4-1. The yellow and black of Barcelona covered 70 % of the stadium and with their team already 1-0 up to a Nina header they were in fine voice.
Deportivo had only the main stand to fill and numbered around 6-7,000 but as their were some spare rows of seats the police began to funnel some yellow and black fans into the Deportivo end. This did not go down well with hardcore members at the front and they immediately rushed to confront to the opposition, forcing them back into the Barcelona section. A few bottles were thrown and insults traded but in truth it was little more than handbags from very, young looking “hooligans”. The riot police and their batons and Alsatians seemed to dampen their enthusiasm.
nI such an atmosphere it’s sometimes difficult to concentrate on the match, especially when you know Deportivo are so poor in front of goal and have little chance of scoring but the game ebbed and flowed with Barcelona seemingly content to let Deportivo attack.
Luckily, again we had the benefit of enthusiastic beer vendors and police were happy to let us stand at the back and peer over the crowd.
Much has been made in the Ecuadorian media about the country’s hooligan problem but in the 20-30 matches i have attended here in Quito I have yet to see some trouble bar the throwing of plastic bottles or the odd plastic beer cup. It’s certainly no where near the levels that the UK or Europe had but i guess it doesn’t take much for things to get out of hand. The police were very aware of the threat and quick to intervene.
The only kerfuffle in the terraces today happened in the Barcelona hoards in the south stand. A yellow shirted youth (my friend was convinced it was a girl but not I) was thrown around like a rag doll and unceremoniously booted and punched through throngs of people and out of the exit. It was unclear what he had done to deserve this treatment but it must have been bad as his own brethren turned on him. The police pounced on him and escorted him away.
In the end Barcelona won two nil, thanks to; some dreadful refereeing decisions, two Deportivo red cards, some dreadful Deportivo forward play and a wonderful free kick form Michael Arroyo in the 90th minute (who in turn was strangely red-carded).
The Barcelona fans were ecstatic at the end, knowing they had all but secured their first title in 15 years while the Deportivo Quito fans solemnly shuffled out of the Atahaulpa. A feeling they have known all to well in a disastrous season.
Barcelona all but sealed the Segunda Etape title (and overall championship) with a lucky win against Deportivo Quito yesterday.
They took the lead through a Narcisso Mina header in the 13th minute then seemed happy to sit back and let Deportivo control the game. However it quickly became clear that Deportivo were not going to score especially when they lost Paredes to a second yellow and Morales to a straight red in the second half.
Deportivo were finally punished for their profligacy in front of goal when Arroyo sealed the win with a fine 30 yard free kick in 90 minutes.
Elsewhere, Emelec confirmed their involvement in next years Copa Libertadores by winning 2-1 at home against El Nacional while Olmedo cemented their relegation to Segunda B after another home loss, this time to Deportivo Cuenca.
Independiente recorded a fine win against Liga de Quito. A Daniel Angulo strike in 57 minutes was enough to grab 3 points and continue their push for a Libertadores spot. The team from Sangloqui are universally recognised as the best youngsters in Ecuador and it remains to be seen how many of their players they can retain for next season, especially with their links to Spurs and the bigger Ecuadorian teams circling
The final places are calculated over the two “etapes” or stages and as Barcelona should win both their will not be a final play-off match this year.
With two teams to be relegated to the Segunda B El Nacional, Macara or Ted de Universitario may yet join Olmedo and drop down a division. This would be particularly disastrous who are an historic giant of Ecuadorian football with a record equaling 13 championships.
With two games left to play it should be a a tight end to the bottom of the Serie A.
After watching Celtic’s historic defeat of Barcelona on TV the Quito derby was always going to be an anti-climax. The atmosphere in Celtic Park couldn’t have been more different from Ecuador’s national stadium.
The Deportivo Quito’s supporters outnumbered the Nacional” hinchas” by at least double but both of the hardcore members were making a suitable racket under their banners and flags.The match had been re-arranged from week 9 due to Deportivo’s participation in the Copa Sudamericana and the World Cup qualifiers. A 6 o’clock Wednesday start was never going to attract a big crowd, especially considering the from of both teams but as I took my seat in the “Palco” section (i was expecting the customary 6 o’clock downpour) I watched a few thousand began to file their way in.
As both teams play their home games in the Atahaulpa Stadium there was no real advantage for either team.
Alike many Latin American stadiums the players and coaching staff appear from below the pitch-side and move to their respective technical areas.
Coaches and managers in Ecuador change like the weather. Sometimes it’s difficult to keep apace, especially when 3-4 months seems to be the average managerial term and tonight’s men were no different.
Deportivo Quito’s coach is former Argentinian national player (5 caps), Ruben Insua who replaced Nelson Acosta in August. After a solid playing career in Argentina and Ecuador (Barcelona) Insua has taken coaching jobs around Latin America enjoying Serie A success with Barcelona and Deportivo and a Copa Sudamericana with San Lorenzo of Argentina.
El Nacional have former Ecuadorian national coach, Sixto Vizuete currently in charge. After an inauspicious playing career Vizuete rose to the national team job through the youth teams in more of an academic Jose Mourinho/ Gerard Houllier fashion.
Tonight Insua was decked out in a smart suit and long Italian style coat. Together with a long main of hair he looked like a cross between David Coverdale and Benedict Cumberbatch. Sixto however had a standard tracksuit and coach jacket combo, more in the style of Paul Lambert or Martin O’Neill.
The game started at a snail’s pace and didn’t let up for the whole 90 minutes. Quito largely controlled the match in the first half through Luis Saritama and Santiago Morales in midfield. Julio Bevacqua was at his mercurial best and attracting the ire of the Quito support after several fluffed chances while Paredes was as normal dynamic but his final ball was consistently poor.
El Nacional fared no better and seemed content to try long shots from far outside the area which usually sailed high into the stars. In 33rd minute Nacional conjured up the first good chance of the match when Dennis Quinonez crossed onto Flavio Caicedo’s head but goalkeeper, Bone did well to tip the ball round the post.
The game then got bogged down in midfield with petty fouls and pseudo-injuries slowing play down. In the 46th minute Bevacqua rose just outside the 6 year the like a salmon to head into the keepers hands. Needless to say his fans were neither impressed nor surprised.
As the match sneaked towards half-time Morales produced a wonderful piece of skill and set up the opening goal. On the left wing and under the attention of two defenders he back-heeled a through ball to the on-running Luis Congo who then smashed the ball past high into the net from the edge of the box. The fans cried “goallazo”and rightly so. It was a fine moment to round up a rotten first half.
El Nacional were out on the pitch 5 minutes before their Quito obviously with a bollocking from Sixto still in their ear and they began the half with greater intensity. The short length of the Atahaulpa pitch means goal keeper kicks stretch far into the opposition half and this can quickly converts defence into attack. A hefty Danny Cabezas boot did exactly this 5 minutes in laying on Pita who only blasted wide.
For the first 15 minutes Quito seemed happy to sit deep and invite Nacional onto them,( a dangerous ploy which has bitten them on the arse many times this season). At times their crowding of attackers and last ditch clearances were manic and tempted disaster but there was method in their madness as two of their counter attacks produced good chances where only the Nacional woodwork prevented a doubling of their lead.
Twice in 5 minutes Edmund Zura was through on goal with only with only the keeper to beat. Luckily Bone was quick off his line to narrow the angle and smother the fierce shots.
In injury time again Zura was put through but this time he chose to dive and claim a penalty. There was much confusion as the linesman waved for the penalty but the referee then overruled and waved away the protests of the Nacional players. In the end Quito ran out close but deserved winners.
The result little effects either of the teams position in the table, both have had dreadful seasons although relegation is not a real threat points are accumulated and totaled over two terms.
Deportivo Quito won last weekend‘s capital derby in the Atahualpa courtesy of a solitary Checa first half goal. Despite the win Deportivo remain rooted to the bottom of the Serie A table with 11 points. Although their chances of relegation have been allayed the season is still a relative disaster considering they are defending champions.
Barcelona continue to top the table after their impressive 4 -1 win over Deportivo Cuenca, but only on goal difference, Liga de Quito and Macara also have 25 points after both putting together impressive runs of results.
The combined points of both of the etape’s of half seasons mean that Olmedo are the most threatened with relegation despite a strong show this term.
LIGA DE QUITO 2 LIGA DE LOJA 2
DEPORTIVO QUITO 1 EL NACIONAL 0
OLMEDO 1 EMELEC 1
TEC.UNIVERSITARIO 1 MACARA 0
MANTA 0 INDEPENDIENTE 1
BARCELONA 4 DEPORTIVO CUENCA 1
With 4 teams still competing in the Copa Sudamericana and the national team lying second in the CONMEBOL table, Ecuadorian football is as vibrant as has been in years.
The Ecuadorian football association also recently held the Shipyard Derby in New Jersey to try and improve the countries overseas reputation and raise funds for the Yasuni foundation.
Barcelona and Emelec played out a 1-1 draw in front of a crowd of just over 10,000 in the Red Bull Arena. Walter Iza took the lead for the “Lightbulbs” in 77 minutes but Damian Diaz equalised 4 minutes later to send both sets of fans home happy.
Every time I make a visit to the Atahaulpa Stadium I can’t help but make comparisons with back home. My usual judgement is that Ecuadorians have it so much better than in Scotland or the UK.
There is no doubt that British stadiums are safer but there over-sterilisation and sanitisation has ruined many aspects of the modern game. Many stadiums are glorified cow-sheds, little more than four banks of seats into which fans are herded like sheep.
No more apparent than this is Hampden Park where the famous Hampden roar has been replaced by the Hampden moan or muffled groan.
Hampden Park got a £20 millon re-fit a number of years ago. The end result was: a dissipation of the noise, an athletics track separating the fans from the pitch by at least 10 metres, 70,000 fans became 50,000 and a severely diluted atmosphere.
The Atahaulpa has not been touched for 50 years and the atmosphere is electric. The capacity has been reduced to 35,000 recently and you have the athletics track but it doesn’t dampen the enthusiasm.
On Friday my Dutch friend and I made our way through the fans, police and many touts. After a couple of aborted entries we finally managed to reach the general area of our seats but not before buying beers at the back of the stadium. As the game was already 5 minutes old and we didn’t want to annoy the other patrons in that dreadful cinema like shuffle through the crowds we stayed-put, aside the beer stand.
Everyone in the back row of seats (which is really a long, concrete block) were standing for a better vantage point. Behind them was a line of Police, some with dogs, all with batons and behind the Police I stood with my friend.Both of us a good foot taller than the rest.
In the two hours we stood there sipping our beers not one Policeman or woman asked us to move, sit down or find our seats. We were causing no problem nor blocking access, simply watching the game so the authorities left us alone. (The only hairy moment was when one of the Police Alsatians started to attack an imaginary assailant. Many wide eyed fans turned and looked on fearing that it could cause some dreadful chain reaction of biting hounds.In the end the mutt was shepherded away to safety).
And therein lies the biggest difference between the match experience in Latin America and the United Kingdom.
In Scotland you are constantly harassed by over-blown security guards and zealous quasi-authorities either wanting you to sit-down, pipe down or calm down. Some luminous jacketed dolt, who was too fat to become a real policeman or too dim to secure a respected job has to use his/her two hours of authority to dampen your match day experience.
And its only the proper fan who rises to remonstrate at the referee or roar his football song that gets reprimanded. If a burly troglodyte is shouting abuse or sectarian or racist bile the security guards are nowhere to be seen. The cowards only admonish the normal fan, knowing fine they won’t receive a smack in the mouth or verbal tirade in response.
On Friday, the Chilean supporters were situated right beside us, numbering about 2-3000 and they regularly intermingled on their way to the toilet or to get some food or more beer. There was no cordon of yellow nor line of Police, even when Chile took the lead there was little more than muffled insults and derogatory, hand signals.
In the end Ecuador won 3 – 1 to bolster their qualification chances for Brazil 2014. As the Ecuadorian fans shuffled out of the stadium many insults were traded with the glum looking Chileans. The usual cries of “chuta- madre” and “hijo de la chingada” were exchanged along with self-explanatory gestures that even a nun would understand.
In Scotland you would be probably hauled off to the Chateau D’If for such “anti-social” behaviour.
Ecuadorian football may have many flaws but I’d have their match-days, any day compared to the over-priced and over- bearing experience of home. Football in Ecuador maybe like football in Scotland 30 years ago.
Not such a bad thing considering where we are as a football nation now.