Due to a technical error and . . . let’s just blame it on a technical error The Red One had not been able to provide updates on Week 9 of the Apertura. So instead here is a bumper edition running down the main talking points from the last two round of matches and also some other pertinent/important news.
Get ready because you are going to read about Santiago Wanderers goal sensation, Colo Colo and Universidad Católica’s inconsistency (again) with added praise for Francisco Prieto and a brief plea to Kevin Harbottle, Universidad de Chile (of course) winning (of course), O’Higgins and their wise appointment of Eduardo Berizzo, managerial replacements and departures and a win for Cobresal, then a defeat.
Enough? No, of course not! There is the game played during, yes during, an earthquake, Claudio Borghi’s squad for the friendly versus Peru and finally the small matter of Chile hosting the 2015 Copa America.
As week nine was played out Santiago Wanderers Coach Arturo Salah called on his players to keep their focus after seeing his side, who were in a relegation fight last year, rise to third in the league after a comprehensive 5-2 victory in Concepción against Universidad de Concepción.
Salah said: “At this level in football, the difference is marked in the head. In the technical, tactical and physical all the teams are well prepared, the difference is the mentality. The challenge has to be to keep improving in the tournament and the way we play.”
And in week 10, if they didn’t improve they certainly didn’t regress. Another 5-2 victory was recorded; this time against Deportes La Serena at the Estadio Regional in Valparaíso.
And one player more than most has shone in the two victories – which takes their run to three consecutive wins. Against Concepción Sebastián Ubilla netted a hat-trick. On Saturday he couldn’t quite match those feats only scoring two of the five goals, taking his tally to 11 in 10.
The 21-year-old is a livewire. He combines clinical finishing with intelligent movement; adept at pulling wide of the centre backs and stretching defences. He enjoys running with the ball at his feet with the ability to go onto his right or left , forcing defenders onto the back foot. It is not only about goals, his selfless play sees Ubilla assists fellow forwards.
By seeing the way Salah has his team set it up it is understandable that Los Porteños are (joint) second top scorers in the Apertura. Their attacking options are moulded together to give an attacking outlook. Quick and incisive, play goes through Argentine playmaker Nicolás Martínez who usually plays behind a front two consisting of Ubilla and Pablo Calandria or Juan Lorca with width and trickery provided by the slick Sebastián Rusculleda.
Game of week 11? Universidad de Chile v Santiago Wanderers.
The Red One’s prediction: Universidad de Chile 7-5 Santiago Wanderers.
Colo Colo and Cató go round and round
Like Universidad Católica, who slipped to a defeat at Audax Italiano, Colo Colo personifies inconsistency. One week they are in a crisis and Ivo Basay (or Mario Lepe if it is Cató) is on the verge of losing his job. The following week they play well, win and the crisis is over, they have emerged from their rut and are ready to challenge the dominant Universidad de Chile.
For Colo Colo it was thought that the corner was being turned with their 2-0 success away to Cobreloa in week 8; a game in which Los Albos reverted back to basics and to a back four. Seven days later and the white hankies were back as was the criticism and speculation surrounding Ivo Basay’s job as they fell to a 1-0 defeat against Palestino in the Monumental. The press, in the days after the results, was filled with profiles of potential replacements and a run down of how much sacking Basay would cost the club.
Having survived another week another away day brought about another win. Huachipato were the victims to El Cacique who remain unbeaten away from the Monumental. The lively front paring of Carlos Muñoz and Esteban Paredes – recently linked to River Plate – provided the goals but the man of the match was goalkeeper Francisco Prieto.
Speculation was rife in the transfer window that Colo Colo were eager to bring in a new goalkeeper even though the club had more than any team should. But mistakes in pre-season matches concerned the club’s technical team and attempts were made to bring in a big name to take the number one spot; Paraguayan international Justo Villar was just one of many linked.
However the start of the season came and Prieto was in the ‘sticks’ for the first game of the season and hasn’t disappointed. The 3-0 victory over Huachipato looked comfortable but if it wasn’t for the bright-yellow clad Prieto the result may have looked a lot less favourable on Los Albos and Basay.
Since they were mentioned earlier Cató followed up their crucial 2-1 Copa Libertadores win with a 2-0 defeat at Audax Italiano. The Libertadores win was a more decisive match for UC but it is now three without a win in the Apertura, yet Lepe’s side still retain a play-off spot.
Los Cruzados (and The Red One) are still waiting for Kevin Harbottle and Nicolás Trecco to explode into life.
N.B. The Palestino game created headlines last week for a bizarre, amazing and quite simply terrifying incident where the teams played through an earthquake which measured 7.1 on the Richter scale. The earthquake shook buildings in the nation’s capital with the epicentre on 200 kilometres to the north.
Footage can be found over at 101 Great Goals.
Late La U
While La U are struggling to accelerate into their fourth and fifth gear on a weekly basis this year they continue to win, using every minute to do so. In their last four games which they have won 3-2, 1-0, 2-1, 2-0 five of their eight goals have been scored in the 84th minute or later.
Matías Rodríguez was the hero during the week against Peñarol; the Argentine scoring both goals against the Uruguayans – one of which was deep in injury time – and at the weekend it was Raúl Ruidíaz’s turn. The Peruvian has had a stop-start beginning to his La U career yet he’s quietly climbing up the Apertura goal scoring charts. His late double to see of Rangers was his seventh and eighth Apertura goals in nine games. The first was beautifully taken, having collected an improvised pass off the chest of Charles Aránguiz. The Peruvian himself bringing it down with his chest and poking it past Juan Mora who had taken Nicolás Peric’s place in goal after the signing from Cobreloa had been given a straight red for dissent seconds after collecting a yellow card for dissent – his second dismissal of the year.
Jorge Sampaoli rested a number of first team players, making use of the bulging talent in his squad, with a trip to Mendoza coming up during the week where La U face another vital match in Group 8 of the Libertadores against Godoy Cruz. The first game saw one of the most complete La U performances, certainly in 2012, as they ran out 5-1 winners .
Wednesday evening’s match in Argentina will see a large police presence; similar to that at a Boca Juniors v River Plate match. Los Azules fan are expected to make the trip in their thousands with a large contingent of hooligans. ‘Los de Abajo’ (the biggest La U ultra group) clashed with Godoy Cruz fans in Santiago and the Argentines are looking for revenge according to media reports.
However it is on the pitch where the biggest battle will be taking place. Godoy Cruz will themselves be looking for revenge after the 5-1 demolition job handed out to them in February. And with only two points separating the sides (La U on 7, Godoy on 5) El Chuncho know they can qualify for the knock-out stages with the three points.
Berizzo’s blue bandwagon
It may appear that The Red One’s curse struck again back in week seven. Having opted to finally provide focus on the Rancagua outfit, O’Higgins duly lost to Universidad Católica. But the defeat did not prompt a slump; instead Los Celestes have won three on the bounce to slot comfortably behind Universidad de Chile in second place, three points of the summit.
Ramón Fernández provided the spark that brought about a single goal victory in Calama against Cobreloa to follow two previous single goal victories; 2-1 wins against Unión La Calera and Deportes Iquique. In both games Enzo Gutiérrez was on the score sheet. The Argentine is now on five goals for the year and is in prime position to beat his previous two best years of 10 and 13 for O’Higgins.
However much of the credit has to go towards new coach Eduardo Berizzo. Having made the 2011 Apertura play-offs, Los Celestes slumped in the Clausura finishing a lowly 16th. Taking over from José Cantillana the 42-year-old ex-Estudiantes coach has praised his players for understanding his football idea which focuses on intelligence and patience.
He told Prensafutbol.cl: “We are going very well; I think our progression is correct. The team has gone from less to more and has played solid in many games. We have installed a game idea that is accepted by the players who have interpreted it very well.
“I have also understood”, he continued, “that the defending and attacking are not disconnected aspects of each other. We are a team that injects a lot of intensity and rhythm into the game and that’s what I like.”
And Berizzo could see his side join Universidad de Chile at the top of the Apertura with a win on Saturday as they welcome second-bottom Unión San Felipe Rancagua as La U do not play Santiago Wanderers until Sunday.
New man at the helm of Universidad de Concepción
Universidad de Concepción became the third Primera División side to swap managers during the Apertura Victor Hugo Castañeda making way for Yuri Fernández; after Luis Oscar Del Solar took over at Cobresal and Gabriel Perrone left Rangers having promoted them from Primera B.
A 5-2 defeat to Sebastián Ubilla inspired Santiago Wanderers in week nine was the final nail in the coffin for Castañeda who survived the sack during the pre-season break when it looked likely he would depart.
New man Fernández could not inspire his new employers to immediate success as the University side lost 2-0 to Deportes Iquique dropping to 16th in the process having lost their last three. Ramos put through his own goal and Adrian Ramos added a second towards the end of the first half.
Acosta pays the price for poor run of results
And the 4th managerial casualty came on Monday evening when Ex-Chile boss Nelson Acosta was relieved of his duties at Cobreloa after the teams 1-0 home loss to O’Higgins – a result which provoked the ire of the fans.
Despite leading the team to the Clausura play-off final the experienced coach succumbed after five defeats in six which leaves Los Zorros languishing in 13th. The Calama side had started the season well with three wins in four – the other being a draw – but the recent poor form combined with a breakdown in relationship between the opinionated Acosta and the directors.
Cobreloa captain spoke to La Tercera about the disappointment within the Cobreloa squad of Acosta’s departure: “For us it is something that was not expected and we had talked about turning around the situation.
“We must respect the decision but I am very grateful for the work he did here in Cobreloa.”
Cobresal finally win. Then lose. Again
Thirteen and a half hours*. 810 minutes*. Or simply put nine games. That is how long it took Cobresal to register their first win of the Apertura. But they eventually achieved it.
Oscar Salinas, Pablo Pallante and Gonzalo De Porras scored the goals in a 3-1 in over Audax Italiano to give Oscar Del Solar his first win as Cobresal manager. Just a pity there was only 812 attendees.
But as we have seen they were back to their usual woefulness in week 10, being torn apart by Wanderers despite a brief fight back.
*does not include injury time.
Copa del Pacífico
Away from the domestic scene Claudio Borghi has announced his squad of 20 for the return leg of La Copa del Pacífico against Peru. Stars of the season so far such as Sebastián Ubilla (Santiago Wanderers), Sebastián Toro (Deportes Iquique), Felipe Gutiérrez (Universidad Católica) and Junior Fernándes (Universidad de Chile) are all included in the domestic based squad.
Chile leads 3-1 from the first leg with the second taking place on April 11 in Tacna, Peru.
Cristopher Toselli (Universidad Católica)
Mauricio Viana (Wanderers)
Luis Casanova (O’Higgins)
Enzo Andía (Catholic University)
Sebastian Toro (Deportes Iquique)
Lucas Domínguez (Audax Italiano)
Marco Biskupovic (Catholic University)
Marcelo Díaz (Universidad de Chile )
Lorenzo Reyes (Huachipato)
Charles Aranguiz (Universidad de Chile)
Luis Pedro Figueroa (O’Higgins)
Bryan Carrasco (Audax Italiano)
Eugenio Mena (Universidad de Chile)
Matthew Campos (Universidad Catolica)
Felipe Gutierrez (Universidad Católica)
Edson Puch (Sports Iquique)
Felipe Flores (Cobreloa)
Carlos Munoz (Colo Colo)
Junior Fernandes (University of Chile)
Sebastian Ubilla (Wanderers)
Finally the ANFP have captured a significant coup in agreeing with Brazil to trade the hosting of the 2019 Copa America with the 2015 edition.
Brazil were scheduled to hold the 2015 tournament between the World Cup in 2014 and Olympics in 2016 however president of the ANFP, Sergio Jadue, was able to agree a swap which sees the tournament come back to Chile for the first time since 1991.
More reaction can be found at SouthAmericanFootball.co.uk.