Venezuelan Primera División 2014-15 – Introduction

As mentioned in this site’s introductory message, there will be some coverage of the Venezuelan Primera División published here, though due to some substantial commitments that are either already underway (i.e. tracking Venezuela’s star exports) or soon to get underway (i.e. the Spanish top-flight), this particular column makes no claim to be comprehensive. Instead, however, it aims to keep an eye out for the best stories, the finest goals and of course, the progress of the many domestic stars who have a chance of making it into the national team squad of La Vinotinto. In common with other South American leagues, while many of the best players of the Selección play overseas, there are a few in their prime who remain, alongside a fair few journeymen and talented veterans, as well as a large pool of young cracks, whose every goals are deemed to be golazos and who soon find they have the weight of the nation’s ever-growing football fanbase on their shoulders.

Players To Watch Out For

If you are wondering which players to look out for then feel free to take a glance at this concise season preview by the writers of Venezuelan publication, Líder En Deportes (in Spanish). If you would like a more comprehensive list then you could do far worse than take a look at the list of domestic players that were called up in the first week of August by new national team manager, Noel ‘Chita’ Sanvicente, to undergo a range of evaluations earlier this week (11-13 August). Sanvicente selected 13 established first-team players and 11 younger players from the Under-20 side (note: no senior players from Caracas FC were chosen to allow them to prepare for their upcoming Copa Sudamericana match in Peru):

First-Teamers

Goalkeepers

Rafael Romo (Mineros de Guayana)

Renny Vega (Deportivo La Guaira)

Defenders

Wilker Ángel (Deportivo Táchira)

Gabriel Cichero (Mineros de Guayana)

José Manuel Velázquez (Mineros de Guayana)

Midfielders

César González (Deportivo Táchira)

Yohandry Orozco (Deportivo Táchira)

Rafael Acosta (Mineros de Guayana)

Edgar Jiménez (Mineros de Guayana)

Ángel Chourio (Mineros de Guayana)

Ángelo Peña (Mineros de Guayana)

Franklin Lucena (Deportivo La Guaira)

Forwards

Gelmín Rivas (Deportivo Táchira)

Under-20 Players

Goalkeepers

Beycker Velásquez (Caracas)

Defenders

Jefre Vargas (Caracas)

Carlos Cermeño (Deportivo Táchira)

José Marrufo (Deportivo Lara)

Franko Díaz (Llaneros de Guanare)

Midfielders

Jhon Murillo (Zamora)

Carlos Sosa (Trujillanos)

Oscar Guillén (Estudiantes de Mérida)

Francisco La Mantia (Aragua)

Forwards

Ronaldo Peña (Caracas)

Andrés Ponce (Llaneros de Guanare)

As you can see, 7 of the 13 established players are from Mineros de Guayana who, unsurprisingly, are considered the favourites for this year’s championship and just so happen to be managed by former national team manager (2001-07), Richard Páez. The next best-represented team with 4 in the first pool of players are Deportivo Táchira, many people’s picks for the title and they are generally deemed to be either the joint-favourites or second-favourites.

When this list was published, some eyebrows were raised that Zamora FC, champions for the last two seasons under Sanvicente, have only one player in the squad – Jhon Murillo, youngster and recipient of the league’s Best Young Player Award for last season. This may in part be due to the summer departures to Europe of some of their stars, such as Juan Falcón, Pedro Ramírez and Jonathan España. However, two more Zamora players, Arles Flores and Johan Moreno, were called up to take part in the second round of evaluations, which will take place on 18-20 August.

Joining these two gentlemen will be several other players who did not feature in the first preliminary squad and who largely play for mid-table sides as well as several who did receive the initial call-up and who play for the top sides (who, incidentally, will play in the premier continental club competition, the Copa Libertadores next year: Mineros de Guayana, Deportivo Táchira and Zamora FC). The players who were part of the first squad but not the second are those who play for clubs that are starting their campaigns in the Copa Sudamericana (the contintent’s equivalent to the Europa League) during the same week; these clubs are: Caracas FC, Deportivo Anzoátegui, Trujillanos and Deportivo La Guaira. As an aside, this site aims to keep track of these clubs’ continental campaigns.

Here then, is the group of 16 players who have been called-up for the second round of evaluations on 18-20 August:

Goalkeepers

José David Contreras (Deportivo Táchira)

Rafael Romo (Mineros de Guayana)

Defenders

Wilker Ángel (Deportivo Táchira)

Carlos Rivero (Deportivo Táchira)

Gabriel Cichero (Mineros de Guayana)

John Chancellor (Deportivo Lara)

Loren Walcott Ray (Aragua)

Midfielders

César González (Deportivo Táchira)

Yohandry Orozco (Deportivo Táchira)

Edgar Jiménez (Mineros de Guayana)

Ángelo Peña (Mineros de Guayana)

Arles Flores (Zamora)

Johan Moreno (Zamora)

Juan Collina (Deportivo Lara)

Forwards

Gelmin Rivas (Deportivo Táchira)

Jesús Lugo (Aragua)

A third group of players should be called up later in the month, ahead of the friendlies against South Korea and Japan in early September.

The League Structure

Returning finally to the league, hopefully some of the information above has provided you with some players and clubs to look out for and so this introduction to the league will end with a brief explanation of how the league is structured.

As with many other leagues in South America, the Venezuelan Primera División is split into two mini-seasons: the Apertura (Opening) and the Clausura (Closing), an arrangement that seems established enough to not cause the level of complaints over unfair fixture lists that it undoubtedly would in Europe. The Apertura is the first half of season that runs from August to December, during which the 18 clubs play each other once and then after these 17 games are played, a winner is crowned. After a break of roughly four weeks, the Clausura gets underway in January and proceeds with the reverse fixtures of those contested in the first half of the season until May when a winner will emerge. The two winners then play each other in a two-legged final, usually in mid-to-late May, to determine the outright champion. These two teams also qualify for the Second Stage of the Copa Libertadores, with the third Libertadores place given to the team with the best points total in the outright season table, excluding that of the two winners – it often goes to the 3rd-placed team, but not always. This team will start in the First Stage of the Libertadores and need to win to reach the group stage, which constitutes the Second Stage. 

Regarding the Copa Sudamericana, there are four places up for grabs and these are given to the following: the team with the next best total of points in the table, along with the winners of the Copa Venezuela (this tournament starts in August and its final is played in late November/early December which, given the Sudamericana begins in August of the following year, provides the team with ample time to lose any built-up momentum and star players). If however, the team with the best points total (excluding the Libertadores qualifiers) won the Copa Venezuela – as happened last season with Caracas FC, who finished 4th – then that particular qualification spot goes to the next best-placed team, which last year was the 5th-placed Deportivo Anzoátegui. The two remaining spots go to the two winners of a couple of two-legged play-offs (semi-final and final) held at the end of the season that are contested by the next eight best-placed sides in the league who have not already qualified for continental competition. Last year, these were the teams who finished 6th-13th.

Thus, with 18 teams in the league virtually all of these sides feel they have something to play for, whether that be the championship, a Libertadores place or, for the majority, a Sudamericana spot. The two lowest-placed teams in the overall table are relegated so, with the qualification places for the Sudamericana play-offs often stretching all the way down to 13th, there are often several teams regularly looking at the table with both optimism and dread.

That’s all for now – hopefully that was not too confusing to follow and you’re not too set in your ways that you refused to even attempt to comprehend it!

Feel free to follow this page on Twitter (Hispanospherical) to keep up with all updates relating to the Venezuelan top-flight (and much more!) as well as to be notified of when articles appear appear on hispanospherical.com!

 

One thought on “Venezuelan Primera División 2014-15 – Introduction

  1. Pingback: Venezuelan Primera División 2014-15 – Week 1 Highlights | The Ball is Hispanospherical

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