O’Higgins exit the Copa Sudamericana, La U begin to catch up and Copa Chile round-up

O’Higgins left floored

It was a busy evening for Chilean clubs spread across three competitions last night. Universidad de Chile returned to domestic business, the Copa Chile group stage got under way with eight matches and O’Higgins went to Paraguay looking for progression to the second round of the Copa Sudamericana.

It turned into an interesting evening with La U and Palestino sharing five goals, four Primera División teams losing to lower league opposition and O’Higgins well beaten.

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Week 6 Round-Up – O’Higgins lead the way beside La U, Colo Colo continue to misfire, the first managerial casualty and Audax finally win.

Universidad de Concepcion v O'Higgins (image: purofutbol.cl)

Universidad de Chile followed up their midweek win against Cobreloa with a 3-1 triumph against Cobresal to join O’Higgins at the summit of the Apertura. The Rancagua outfit have been going strong under new manager Eduardo Berizzo, unbeaten in four to place ahead of La U on goal difference with 13 points each.

Colo Colo continued their miserly form in front of goal escaping from Valparaíso with a point after Santiago Wanderers missed two penalties. There were wins for Santiago rivals Unión Española and Universidad Católica who consolidate their positions in the play-offs.

Audax Italiano finally broke their duck away at Deportes Iquique with a 2-1 win, leaving Cobresal as the only side yet to collect a first win of the season which cost Luis Musrri his job.

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Week 5 Talking Points and Round-up – Audax and Palestino get all Serie A, Cobreloa’s consistency and TRO’s curse strikes again

'¿Cuánto tiempo tengo?' (Image: Mundo.d)

The tumultuous start to the Chilean Apertura continued as four teams picked up their first win of the season, Universidad de Chile suffered a heavy defeat in Rancagua, Colo Colo were booed off again and TRO keeps getting things wrong.

However a win still eludes Audax Italiano (and Cobresal) despite remaining highly watch-able. This time they were out-done by a Daniel Carreno’s Palestino who have been unlikely to have to wait until the fifth week to collect their first win. But from the game question marks still persist over the way Omar Labruna sets up his Audax side.

Elsewhere it was Cobreloa’s turn to occupy top spot after a comprehensive 3-0 success away at Rangers. Their sheer consistency has been enough to put them above everyone else, despite having played one game less.

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Week 2 Round-up: La U are off and running but it is Union Espanola who lead the way . . .

Hat-trick hero Jaime (image ANFP.cl)

Goals were more forthcoming in week 2 as Clausura finalists Universidad de Chile and Cobreloa kicked off their Apertura seasons with wins. But both are left looking upwards at Unión Española who continue their thrilling start to the season. A fine individual performance from Mauro Díaz was part of a fabulous team performance as they pummelled Cobresal.

La U struggled to break down La Serena on Saturday evening until the introduction of new boy Raúl Ruidíaz at half-time. Colo Colo also collected their first win of the season while Universidad Católica endure their poor away form which blighted their Clausura campaign.

Santiago Wanderers, Palestino, Audax Italiano and Antofagasta all got of the mark.

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Apertura 2012: Week 1 Round-up – The new season gets off to a tame start in the heat

Catolica and Palestino clash (IMG: ANFP)

With the Clausura’s top two – Universidad de Chile and Cobreloa – not in action there was a chance for one of the contenders to lay down an early marker as Santiago inhabitants looked to escape the baking heat which had swept the capital.

However Colo Colo were booed off at home to Deportes Iquique – who had new signing Edson Puch impressing on his debut – while Universidad Católica recovered from an insipid first half performance to collect three points. There was better news for Union  Española who added to their first round first-leg Coap Libertadores win with maximum points.

The two promoted teams enjoyed mix fortunes back in the Primera.

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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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Clausura Play-Off’s Kick-Off – Advantage Favourites

Paredes equalises (IMG: ANFP)

In an explosive opening to the Clausura play-offs three of the four games went the way of the positional seeding with three away wins. The only home win coming from Universidad Católica who, despite finishing below Audax Italiano, were arguably favourites to win through to the semi-finals. It is looking likely that three of the four semi-final places will be taken by the three Santiago Giants.

Saturday saw a glut of goals as 12 were scored in the two games while on Sunday the two encounters were tight and tentative, both away teams winning a goal to nil.

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Clausura Play-off Preview – Part One

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.

Week 17 Round-up – Regular season ends paving the way for the play-offs

Santiago Morning's (right) four-year Primera spell over (IMG: ANFP)

Two Championship play-off places, two relegation play-off places and one automatic relegation place were ‘up for grabs’ at the weekend. Nine teams were involved meaning six games kicked off simultaneously. The permutations seemed endless. The hope, the fear, the excitement and the despair.

The 90 minutes of football had it all as 23 goals were exchanged in the six games.

Could Santiago Morning stave off relegation and do the unthinkable and reach the Clausura play-offs? Could Unión Española blow their place in the Clausura play-offs? Could Unión San Felipe win for the frost time in eight matches to rise out of danger?

All will be answered . . . (and there’ll even be mention of Universidad de Chile reaching a remarkable landmark without any of their heavy –hitters)

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Week 16 Round-up – Ñublense head to Primera B while nine teams prepare for a Sunday Showdown

Nublense (red and white) head for the Primera Division exit door (IMG: ANFP)

And then there was one. One week to save their season. One week to define their season. One week to prolong their season, for better or worse. Not for Ñublense however. Their time was up when Octavo Pozo scored a late third goal for Unión La Calera to secure a 3-1 win, consigning Ñublense to Primera B next year.

But Unión Española, Cobresal, Unión La Calera, Santiago Wanderers, Santiago Morning, Deportes Iquique, Universidad de Concepción, Unión San Felipe and Huachipato all face a Sunday showdown to reach the Clausura Championship play-offs, avoid the dreaded relegation play-offs or stave off relegation. Or in some cases all three!

(If you are confused or unsure have a read of the league(s) set-up and how it’s decided)

Unión Espanola will confirm their Clausura play-off place with a win at Universidad de Concepción who will then have to rely on results elsewhere to survive in the Primera Division. Cobresal will avoid relegation and confirm a Championship play-off place by picking up three points at home to Santiago Morning who would then be relegated. A Santiago Morning win – they have to win to have any chance of surviving – would see them leapfrog Cobresal in both the General and Clausura table, into a possible Championship play-off place. But again they would have to rely on results elsewhere. For example . . . actually there are far too many permutations to even consider. It would take Sheldon Cooper, a blackboard and his lunatic genius to work out.

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