Groundhopping: Atletico Nacional – Santa Fe

I always try to watch live football wherever I go. Awaydays is a journal about that.

We had been traveling in South America for some time and I had been wanting to go and watch a football match from the get-go, but had been very unlucky with the timing.

One of the main reasons I wanted to visit Buenos Aires was to watch Boca Juniors, but it was international break when we visited. “Alright, no worries”, I thought. “We’ll just go watch Messi and co.”. But of course it was one of those very few times they play outside the capital.

I visited the stadium, but unfortunately no live football

In Lima, Peru, I had a chance to go watch a local derby, but “unfortunately” I had a few too many Pisco Sours at a friend’s birthday party the day before, so didn’t wake up in time.

Then in Guayaquil, Ecuador, I found out the two arch derby rivals, Barcelona (not only the name is similar to FCB, but also the logo) and Emelec were clashing. But most locals I met, said it was dodgy and not safe for a gringos.

Forcing the luck

I realised I had to force my own luck, so when we got to Medellin, I persuaded the others to stay longer, so we could go watch the semi-finals in the league between two of the biggest clubs in Colombia – Atletico Nacional and Santa Fe (from Bogota).

A few days earlier, Atletico Nacional was due to meet the Brazilian team, Chapecoense, in the final of Copa Sudamericana. But as I’m sure most of you heard, the Brazilian team were involved in a plane crash and most of them didn’t make it. This left the atmosphere around football in Medellin in a mourning state. Instead of playing the final, all the fans made an amazing tribute to Chapecoense – you should watch the video.

Getting tickets

We did some asking around and got different information, but eventually we found out that anyone can buy tickets in the official Atletico Nacional shops, so we headed up to the closest shopping center and bought tickets.

It was surprisingly easy and we didn’t have to show any ID at all. The prices varied from approximately 30.000-110.000 COP. There’s no need to get the expensive ones, unless you want cover from the rain.

The Atletico Nacional shop (also known as Tienda Verde)

Unlucky again

After securing the tickets, I was pretty ecstatic. After all, these were two of the biggest teams in Colombia, meeting in a semi-final – what could go wrong?

Well, apparently Atletico Nacional had made it to the quarter final in the FIFA Club World Cup and was due to meet Kashiwa – a Japanese team. I didn’t give this much thought, because this tournament has super low priority in Europe. But unfortunately it’s HUGE in South America, which meant Atletico Nacional was sending all their best players to Japan, leaving a shitty youth team to play Sante Fe.

It definitely put a break on the excitement, but I was still hoping for a good game.

The game

We were staying within walking distance of the stadium, so we went early in order to have a few beers and check out the atmosphere around the neighbourhood.

The big street leading up the stadium was buzzing with fans. No singing, but plenty of flags, shirts, fan buses, beers and the sweet smell of MJ. It seemed most people were getting cheap beers from the shop and drinking them on the street, so we joined in.

After a few beers, we headed towards the stadium and was thoroughly patted down by police. We entered the stadium and asked the steward about our seats, to which he laughed and told us to sit anywhere.

The stadium was definitely not full, but the atmosphere was great and I think the fans took this as a warm-up for the upcoming game against the Kashiwa. They had banners and gear everywhere in Japanese instead of Spanish.

As the players were entering the pitch, the speakers started blasting the national anthem, which nobody gave a shit about, but afterwards they started singing the team song and the fans gave all they got. Probably one of the better team songs I’ve heard.

In true South American style, there was a big band among the fans, which gave the rhythm and decided on what chants to sing. It worked well and the fans kept singing throughout the match.

I was impressed with the Atletico Nacional youth team. They played very well, but unfortunately they conceded a few stupid goals on standard situations and after that, it was all downhill. They ended up losing 0-4, but the fans were still going strong. I’m sure it would be an amazing experience watching an important win.

The Facts

Date: 11/12/2016
Tournament: Colombian Primera A
Game: Atletico Nacional – Santa Fe (0-4)
Funbet: Over 2.5 goals @ 2.09
How to get tickets: Any Atletico Nacional official shop
Prices: 30.000 – 110.000 COP
Tifo rating: 2/5
Chants rating: 3/5
Safety: 3/5

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