Week 16 Round-up – ‘Clásico Universitario’ ends in stalemate, Deportes La Serena are relegated but the play-offs and relegation places still up in the air

Universidad de Chile 0-0 Universidad Católica

The 0-0 isn’t the most popular score line in Chile’s Primera División, but thanks to some wonderful goalkeeping from Paulo Garcés and Cristopher Toselli, coupled with poor finishing the ‘Clásicoo Universitario’ between Universidad de Chile and Universidad Católica served up a goal less draw. The result leaves Católica seeking qualification to the play-offs going into the final week.

The game can be filed into the ‘exciting 0-0’ category as two sides with contrasting styles of play came together at a sun-baked Estadio Nacional; proactive v reactive.  La U looked to pass their way through UC with invention and speed and Los Cruzados settled for a direct approach on the counter-attack.

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Clausura Week 5 – Española break the rules, Colo Colo’s indiscipline resurfaces, Rangers take the lead at the top and more

 

Costly mistake by Sierra?

Once again there wasn’t a full card of games in the Chile Primera División with Universidad de Chile travelling back from their Suruga Bank Championship disappointment.

 

So for the third time in five rounds it was left to the others to stake a claim as ‘likely challengers’ to La U’s dominance. And once again Colo Colo and Universidad Católica were nowhere to be seen, both struggling to draws.

 

Rangers on the other hand opened up a two point gap at the top with a win at Cobreloa. Audax Italiano and Cobresal failed to win but will be happy with draws away to Palestino and Unión La Calera.

 

Deportes Iquique’s strange behaviour continued as they fell to another heavy defeat while miracles do exist after all. Unión San Felipe won. Although in Valparaíso they are more sceptical after Santiago Wanderers didn’t.

 

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Emanuel Herrera heir to the Giroud throne

Herrera scoring for Union Espanola.

Montpellier continued to improve their squad for the new season today with the signing of 25-year old Argentine striker Emanuel Herrera. Joining for a few reported to be around €2 to 3 million he becomes Montpellier’s fourth signing and of course takes the instant tag of Olivier Giroud’s replacement.

Herrera arrives from Chilean club Unión Española who finished 5th in the national championship and reached the Last 16 of the Copa Libertadores with the Argentine scoring five goals in South America’s premier club competition. So to get the best insight into what sort of player Montpellier were buying we went straight toChilean football expert  Joel Sked and he gave us the low-down on La Paillade’s new recruit.

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Unión Española’s 1994 Copa Libertadores Campaign

On Tuesday night Unión Española broke a ‘curse’ that had lasted 18 years by qualifying for the knockout stages of Copa Libertadores with a 2-1 success over Bolívar.

In 1994 La Furia Roja reached the quarter-finals under Nelson Acosta with a squad including current coach José Luis Sierra. Thanks to Pablo Fernández we have the footage of the 1994 campaign where Española fell to eventual finalists Sao Paulo. Continue reading

Week 7 Talking Points – Basay enters the last chance Saloon, awesome Mati, continental hangover, more Cobresal misery and Week 8′s top game

Under Pressure; Ivo Basay (image: FOXSportsLA)

1. Basay’s 90 minutes

As hundreds made their way towards the exit to begin a mass exodus others stayed behind to whistle, jeer and boo. It was a familiar sight at the Estadio Monumental as Colo Colo once again disappointed; falling to a 2-0 loss to Deportes La Serena.

Ivo Basay’s job in charge of Los Albos is hanging by a single thread. Defeat against Cobreloa on Saturday and that thread will snap. Win and the thread will be strengthened, there’ll no long be the same weight pulling on it. At least for another week anyway.

But the departure of Basay looks inevitable with Colo Colo in a lowly 11th and little signs of improvement. Universidad de Chile are Universidad de Chile. They have a quality manager, talented players and most importantly they have an ideology.

Universidad Católica and their coach Mario Lepe have also come in for criticism from fans but away from their inconsistency they have quality throughout a balanced squad. If anything they have too many options.

Colo Colo are trailing their Santiago rivals on and off field. They have a top heavy squad which still relies on the predatory instincts and guile of Esteban Paredes as well as midfield maestro Rodrigo Millar while the promising striker Carlos Muñoz has struggled.

The transfer window signings have not worked out as expected. Former player Guillermo Páez explained the inadequate recruitment policy, “They brought in four or five strikers and in defence believed that (Pablo) Contreras was enough, but work is needed.”

The defensive vulnerability was again on show in the defeat to La Serena. Committing players forward and playing with a high line there was no protection offered to the defence. Every time La Serena won possession they looked as if they could score at will, quickly transitioning from defence to attack.

They may have ‘only’ conceded seven goals in seven games – the fifth best defensive record in the league – but it is made worse by the fact they have only scored seven goals despite the abundance of attacking options.

Against an organised and structured Cobreloa Basay will have to spend a substantial time on attacking movements if there is any chance of keeping his job with El Cacique. Not to forget the weakness in defending counter-attacks.

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Week’s 3 and 4 (and then some): Rodrigo Millar, La U, Santiago Wanderers and where are all the wins? (And then some)

The Santa Laura comes under attack (image: ilovechile.cl)

My Primera División output has been poor of late due to my lack of internet access which means I have seen little from the last two weekends. So here is a quick round-up of the last couple of week’s action where there have been two rounds of league fixtures, the Copa Libertadores and a Chile friendly.

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Copa Libertadores Preview

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:

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Week 2 Talking Points – Mauro Díaz, Robert Flores, Profligate Italiano, Marcelo Díaz and Catolica’s Santiago Bubble

Díaz playing for River Plate (image: granadeportivo.blogspot.com)

1. Signing of the season?

I know there have only been two games played, heck Universidad de Chile and Cobreloa have only played one, but Unión Española are looking mightily impressive. Add in their first round Copa Libertadores matches and they couldn’t have started the season much better. At the heart of their good play has been River Plate loanee Mauro Díaz. Stationed on the left of the midfield three he has personified La Furia Roja’s expansive and high-paced play.

The Santa Laura side attempt to use every inch of the pitch to stretch the opposition. The full-backs are pushed high and wide while the wide forwards in the 4-3-3 play as inverted wingers but look to hug the touchline opening gaps in defences before coming in to combine with the midfield and striker Emmanuel Herrera (or Sebastián Jaime).

Díaz, part of the fluid midfield three, is industrious, energetic, tenacious but uses the ball intelligently, belying his 20 years of age. He is giving allowances to join in attacks but also provide coverage to a defence that has its pressure points especially with no natural holding midfielder (Braulio Leal is the closest to playing that role).

Jean Paul Pineda and Sebastián Saavedra also deserve a mention. Pineda has consistently troubled full backs with his pace and trickery so far while Saavedra looks to be another promising and gifted attacker.

It was Universidad de Chile last year, Deportes Iquique last week but now it’s the turn of Unión Española and Mauro Díaz to entertain.

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Tigres 2-2 Unión Española (Agg 2-3)

Herrera scores from 12 yards (Image: latercera.com)

There will be full Chilean representation in this year’s Copa Libertadores group stage after Unión Española dispensed of Mexican side Tigres to make it a Santiago trio along with Universidad de Chile and Universidad Católica.

Leading 1-0 from the first-leg through Gonzalo Barriga’s header at the Estadio Santa Laura Española knew a draw would suffice in taking them through. However they did it the hard way. Tigres raced into a 2-0 lead before letting it unravel just as quickly, going down to ten men and La Furia Roja drawing level on aggregate. The Chileans also had a player sent off but it did not stop them from confirming their group stage place with an equaliser on the night.

In front of a raucous and expectant home crowd Tigres went for the jugular from the off. 20-year-old Alan Pulido forcing Eduardo Lobos into a fine save pushing the ball onto the post. Pulido wouldn’t have long to wait to claim his first goal of the game however. With 15 minutes on the clock Alberto Acosta cut onto his right foot and swung in an inviting delivery which only needed the slightest touch from Pulido’s forehead to send it past Lobos.

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Clausura Play-off Quarter-final second-leg’s: Santiago giants ease through and are joined by Cobreloa who squeezed through

Kevin Harbottle (right) IMG: ANFP

The closing stages of the Primera División are well and truly underway as four teams were eliminated over the weekend, setting up a Clásico Universitario semi-final and potential ‘El Clásico’ final, while Cobreloa – the only non-Santiago team in the last four – will be happy to just be there after an almighty scare at home to Unión La Calera, leaving it late to confirm their place.

Universidad de Chile won. Again. Colo Colo took care of an elementary second-leg and Audax Italiano floundered when it mattered.

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