Chile has three participants in this years Copa Libertadores. Everyone’s eyes will be on Jorge Sampaoli’s Universidad de Chile who are looking to make it a Copa Libertadores/Copa Sudamericana double but must do so without the brilliance of Eduardo Vargas. However they have retained Jorge Sampaoli and the bulk of the squad which won the Sudamericana before the new year, as well as the 2011 Apertura and Clausura, while adding even more promise to the squad.
Chile’s other contenders are Universidad Católica and Unión Española who occupy the same group and it is hoped, and expected, that at least one of the two qualify. They may not have the quality throughout the squad La U possess but both have talented youngsters that could light up the Libertadores.
Hopefully the gifted youngsters from each team are allowed to illuminate the knock-out stages:
When the clock ticked down to midnight on the 31st December there would have been much reminiscing in Santiago from Azul Azul fans after Universidad de Chile completed an unprecedented Apertura, Clausura and Copa Sudamericana treble with a thumping 3-0 second-leg win over Cobreloa in the Estadio Nacional on the 29th after a goal-less first-leg on Boxing Day.
In 2011 Chilean football may have witnessed a team that will go down as one of the best and most successful in the country’s history. A look at how they arrived at three trophies in a year and countless records broken can be read in more detail here.
Over the two-legged final La U showed their dominance in the end after what can only be described as an edgy and gritty first-leg in Calama. There was little in the way of goal mouth action. However there was controversy as Cobreloa had a goal controversially ruled out. Nicolás Trecco’s flicked header from a corner was met by Diego Barrios who saw his own header come down off the bar prompting a scramble on the La U line between Jhonny Herrera and Cobreloa defender Sebastián Roco. Herrera managed to trap the ball under his legs but it was knocked free and Barrios bundled the ball behind the line. The referee, Eduardo Gamboa, adjudged Herrera to have had the ball under his control.
Two tight semi-final affairs, with goals aplenty, see the two sides who finished first and second in the Clausura table take one goal leads (effectively two due to Clausura positioning) into the second-legs to be played midweek.
Colo Colo 2 v 3 Cobreloa
In the first of the semi-finals Colo Colo entertained Cobreloa in what was a topsy turvy encounter full of incident as Ivo Basay’s Los Albos struggle to achieve the consistency required to challenge rivals Universidad de Chile and make a case for winning the Clausura and a place in next years Copa Liberatadores. Cobreloa on the other hand showed, with players of the quality of Nicolás Trecco in tow, why they finished second, behind La U in the Clausura table.
Clausura defender Sebastián Rocco had a goal rightly chalked off before Colo Colo took the lead just shy of the 20th minute mark. Quick thinking from Jose Pedro Fuenzalida from a corner saw the midfielder exchange passes on the edge of the box before curling the return beautifully into the far top corner.