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.
2. Matí Rodríguez is awesome
Marcelo Díaz, Charles Aránguiz, Jhonny Herrera, Jose Rojas, Eduardo Varags. Names often mentioned when talking about the most influential players of the 2011 Copa Sudamericana success. ‘The Red One’ as always maintained that Matías Rodríguez deserves greater prominence.
As Eduardo Vargas terrorised opposition defences he was ably partnered and/or supported by Matí. The perfect wing-back capable of dominating a whole flank; energetic, quick, strong, and technically efficient. He plays high up the pitch and provides rampaging runs at the opposition full-back which allowed Vargas to drift inside into space – something which Junior Fernándes is doing to great affect.
His height is also an essential weapon in both defensive and attacking phases. La U can be targeted at set-piece and long balls but Rodríguez at least gives them a presence in defence while also offering an aerial threat in attack (as you will see).
At the weekend he helped himself to a hat-trick. Two headed goals and a composed finish. Yet another fine performance has led some in the Chilean media to mention a possible switch of allegiance from Argentina to Chile. However as Javier Ceppi pointed out Rodríguez will have to stay in the country for another three years before being able to claim for citizenship.
And with Benfica reigniting interest in the wing-back it is unlikely he will be in Chile for much longer. Also there is the matter of Argentina’s lack of defensive options, especially at full-back. If he continues to impress in the Copa Libertadores – Rodríguez missed the defeat to Atlético Nacional – there may be a call from Alejandro Sabella.
*look out for Raúl Ruidíaz’s insane piece of skill at 4.05
3. Continental hangover
Unión Española suffered their third defeat of the year at the weekend (3-1 at home to Huachipato). It was their second on the back of a mid-week Copa Libertadores match – their other match finished a draw.
Seven players have played in all seven Apertura games. Nine players have played in all five Copa Libertadores (including the first round qualifying). Six have missed only one game in either competition.
Without trying to over complicate the reasons it looks as if the continental excursions are taking their toll on the lack of depth within the squad.
Yet with Emmanuel Herrera continuing to score – nine goals in 12 games – La Furia Roja should have no problems finishing in the play-off positions as their fans enjoy a potential run in the Libertadores. After all Española sit top of Group three undefeated after three games.
4. New manager same result
Cobresal 0-4 Deportes Iquique. It is now seven games without a win (three draws) with 21 goals conceded. Even after changing manager, new man, Oscar Del Solar, could not lift the spirits.
It looks like being a hell of a job for Del Solar but steady progress in the Apertura – let’s face it they can’t get much worse – will give him the Clausura to preserve Cobresal’s Primera División status. If Sunday’s performance is anything to go by he should start by working on the defence.
5. The game of week 8
Cobreloa v Colo Colo and Ivo Basay’s last stand? No thanks. Universidad de Chile v Unión Española and the promise of goals? Pffft. The game of week eight is in the Tarapacá Region as Deportes Iquique welcome O’Higgins. Las Dragones Celestes v La Celeste, 4th v 3rd.
In the season preview for In Bed With Maradona I tipped Deportes Iquique to best the surprise package of the Apertura. However the early season surprises were Santiago Wanderers and now O’Higgins who were knocked off top spot by a late Roberto Ovelar goal for Universidad Católica.
Thanks to their comprehensive victory over Cobresal Iquique moved up to 4th spot thanks to doubles from Edson Puch and Cristian Bogado – his first and second of the season. It has been goal scoring that has stopped Iquique from registering more points as they started the season with three draws and only two goals. They do possess the best defensive record however and if Puch is on form they will begin to look more threatening in front of goal.
O’Higgins produced arguably the best performance of the Apertura with a 3-0 win over Universidad de Chile. In a fluid 4-3-3 they have no shortage of creative outlets yet it leaves them open to counter-attacks. And if Iquique’s wing-backs can find the necessary space they could cause a whole number of headaches for Los Tigres.
It proves to be a fascinating match-up.