With the Clausura play-offs kicking off tonight we look at the four match-ups. Here are the first two:
Deportes La Serena v Colo Colo
Key Men: Mathias Vidangossy (La Serena) Esteban Paredes (Colo Colo)
Form: La Serena – LWLWW Colo Colo – WDLDW
Last Meeting: La Serena 4-0 Colo Colo
The play-offs kick off on Saturday (today) when La Serena entertain Ivo Basay’s Colo Colo at La Portada with the Santiago giants looking to make amends for their humiliating 4-0 loss at the beginning of October. Los Albos haven’t won a title since the 2009 Clausura and despite making plans for next season already will want to be the team to stop Universidad de Chile’s long unbeaten run. They have goals in the side with Esteban Paredes, Carlos Muñoz and Mauro Olivi while Boris Rieloff provides penetration from left-back in a system which is loosely 4-2-2-2.
La Serena missed out on the Apertura Clausura by three points but were in little danger of missing out on the Clausura end of season party. A run of two defeats in 12 propelled them to a confident position. Veterans Gamadiel Garcia and Mauricio Salazar link with the impressive Mathías Vidangossy, who has been mooted with a move to Colo Colo, to supply Juan Sánchez Sotelo. La Serena play in the open but colourful La Portada which is due for an upgrade.
Universidad Católica v Audax Italiano
Key Men: Milovan Mirosevic (UC) Matías Campos Toro (Audax)
Form: UC – WDWWD Audax – DLWLW
Last Meeting: Audax Italiano 0-0 Universidad Católica
UC have had an unpredictable yet interesting Clausura season. Yet it all started at the end of the Apertura. Having won the first-leg of the Apertura play-off final away to Universidad de Chile 2-0 they contrived to lose the second-leg 4-1. It did not look to affect them as they stormed through the Copa Chile and were unbeaten in five of the first six Clausura matches. But then their season seemed to uncoil as they lost their next four and were knocked out of the Copa Sudamericana, leaving them on the outside of the play-off places looking in. But a late season rally, including a Copa Chile win on penalties against Primera B side Magallanes, pushed them into 5th place. There are still question marks over Mario Lepe’s pragmatic play especially with the attacking talent at their disposal yet they are arguably Universidad de Chile’s biggest threat. Francisco Silva pulls the strings at the base of the midfield while Milovan Mirosevic, Fernando Meneses, Matías Mier and Felipe Gutiérrez inject spark into the attack that includes the wily but still not old César Carignano and Francisco Pizarro. Also keep an eye out for livewire Kevin Harbottle.
Audax Italiano are another Chilean team top heavy with talent and play a fluid 3-4-1-2. They have a number of options in the final third which makes them one of the most interesting teams to watch; Facundo Pereyra is the league’s second top goal scorer while Felipe Mora, Cristian Canhué and Bryan Carrasco add invention and guile. At the back they the promising curly-haired Lucas Dominguez and are captained by national team rising star Matías Campos Toro who covers the whole left-wing and adds a verifiable goal threat. Late season inconsistency will have cost them a Copa Liberatadores place if Universidad de Chile win the Clausura.