It’s been two months since a ball was kicked in Costa Rica (and for good reason I might add. COVID-19 is no joke). On May 20, the league will finally return.
Seven days away, here are the seven games I’m most looking forward to.
Jornada 16: Saprissa vs. Herediano
You couldn’t have picked a better matchup to restart the season with. I’m wrong. You could. It’d be a Clasico Nacional, but we’ll get to that later.
Just behind that is a matchup between the two most successful clubs of the past decade. While Saprissa boasts the most titles in league history (34), Herediano boasts the most since 2010 (seven), including the most recent one in 2019.
The two previously crossed paths in January—before God decided he REALLY hated us—a 4-1 throttling in favor of Herediano. Saprissa managed to finish with nine players, but still enters Jornada 16 with a seven-point lead over its rivals.
Jornada 17: Alajuelense vs. San Carlos
Not far behind Saprissa—four points to be exact—is Alajuelense. Keeping pace is key, but it’s just as important for San Carlos.
Los Toros del Norte are two points behind the fourth and final playoff spot. An obvious disappointing start to the season cost Luis Marin his managerial job. Carlos Restrepo took over and slowly righted the ship, but San Carlos is still chasing qualification.
The race for fourth is at least four teams deep. Even a point in Alajuela would be massive for the club’s playoff hopes.
Jornada 18: Cartagines vs. Jicaral
Just above San Carlos, in fourth, are Cartagines and Jicaral. The two are level on points (22). Jicaral holds the goal-differential tiebreaker.
The newly promoted side is looking to mirror San Carlos’ early success in La Primera. Qualifying for the Cuadrangular would do just that. That wouldn’t be a good look for Cartagines, who continues to be a big club in Costa Rica only by name.
El Equipo Centenario hasn’t done jack shit this century. The club’s last finals appearance was in 2013.
Jornada 19: Alajuelense vs. Saprissa
El Clasico Nacional. Say no more.
If you want an idea of what this rivalry can bring in terms of entertainment, watch this epic 4-4 draw from 2013. You’ll thank me by halftime.
Jornada 20: Cartagines vs. Herediano
Back to the shit show that is Cartagines. Club manager Hernan Medford has done the rounds in Costa Rica, previously leading Saprissa, Limon and Herediano.
He led Heredia to two titles in 2016 and 2017, but hasn’t found much success since then. Despite that, Medford still finds himself a few key victories away from a surprising playoff berth. This would certainly be one of them.
Jornada 21: Guadalupe vs. Jicaral
The two most surprising contenders of 2020 meet in the penultimate round. Guadalupe is just six points behind its 2019 form with seven weeks left to play. A meddling side since its inception in 2017, the club entered the COVID-19 break in great form.
Victories over Saprissa and Santos—coupled with a draw in San Carlos—left Guadalupe just one point behind Jicaral for fourth. The five weeks prior will determine the importance of this match, but if true to form, this will be an elimination game for both sides.
Jornada 22: La U vs. Saprissa
La U has more lives than a cat. The club somehow managed to escape relegation each of the last two seasons.
2020 is likely to be a different story.
Los Universitarios are six points behind Grecia in the relegation zone. A key match in Jornada 17 against Limon might be the final nail in the club’s coffin. Hosting Saprissa in Jornada 22 might be its final game in the first division.