Week 13 Round-up – Changes at the top once more as two points separate five teams

Colo Colo’s Felipe Flores battles with Carlos Lopez

After the 13th round of fixtures three teams share the lead at the top with 26 points; Palestino in first place due to their greater number of wins. Tucked in behind are Universidad de Chile and Rangers.

La U finally got back to winning ways in a sun-baked Antofagasta while the game of the weekend saw Rangers travel to the soaking Estadio Monumental and share four goals with Colo Colo.

Friday night’s match once again saw goals and there was even a Monday night game which produced, yes you guessed it, goals.

In between the two games Universidad Católica got back to winning ways in the league while there was a Clásico in the Atacama.

Continue reading

Week 11 Round-up: We’re Back!!!

The Red One finally returns after a six week hiatus. And what a weekend to return to!

Flores celebrates his goal

There were goals aplenty on Friday, Saturday and Sunday; two 2-2s, a 3-2 and a 4-3 as only two of the 18 teams failed to score.

Deportes Iquique made it six wins from six to lead the Clausura ahead of Rangers and Universidad de Chile – both teams recovering from two goals down to record draws late on.

The Sunday game between Cobreloa and Universidad Católica can only be described as manic with the return of horrendous defending led by Enzo Andía. Cato faces an in-form Colo Colo this weekend in the first clásico of the Clausura. Los Albos swept past Unión Española in the final game of week 11.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Apertura play-off semi-finals: Advantage Unión Española and Colo Colo while San Marcos win Primera B Apertura

Goalscorers (image: number1sport.es)

The past weekend saw the commencement of the Apertura play-off semi-finals, and there were surprises in store with the top two of the regular season losing their first-legs without registering a goal.

On Saturday O’Higgins lost 1-0 at Unión Española thanks to a goal from the impressive Emiliano Vecchio and 24 hours later Universidad de Chile succumbed 2-0 to Colo Colo in an empty Estadio Monumental in a surreal encounter with a sodden pitch and two red cards . . . for Colo Colo.

It concluded a miserable week for La U who arguably put in their most insipid display under Jorge Sampaoli at La Bombonera against Boca Juniors in the Copa Libertadores semi-final first-leg. La U are now required to overturn two two goal deficit’s this week in two separate competitions.

In more positive news San Marcos de Arica triumphed in the Primera B Apertura to collect their first divisional title since 1981 and confirm their place in the end of season promotion play-offs.

Continue reading

Unión Española 2-3 Boca Juniors – La Furia Roja succumb to a genius

El Diez

Juan Román Riquelme. The name synonymous with Argentine number 10’s. The name that flows of your tongue like a passing move orchestrated by Juan Román himself. The ultimate enganche. El Diez.

And JRR was at it again last night, providing another master class as Unión Española fell from the Copa Libertadores at the last-16 stage.

Despite a late Santiago Silva goal in the first-leg and trailing 2-1 there was hope for the exciting and expansive Española in front of a packed Estadio Santa Laura. That was until one of the great artists, his right foot a paintbrush, decided on having another performance not to be forgotten. Involved in every goal Riquelme led Boca to a 3-2 win setting up a quarter-final tie with either Fluminense or Internacional.

While having their chances, especially in the first-leg, La Furia Roja, led be José Luis Sierra, can exit the competition with their reputation enhanced, playing a thrilling 4-3-3 that saw victory claimed in Bolívar of all places.

Continue reading

Boca Juniors 2-1 Unión Española – Extra pressure from Boca pays off in a tight game

Unión Española was five minutes from recording a famous result in one of football’s most iconic venues. With barely five minutes remaining a Santiago Silva goal for Boca Juniors to make it 2-1 edged a tight encounter in the Argentines favour.

La Furia Roja trailed at the break from a splendid Juan Román Riquelme goal but fought back in the second half, scoring a deserved equaliser but could not hold on and take the away goal back to Chile for the second leg this week coming. Although they will have to do so without Uruguayan Diego Scotti who was needlessly sent-off.

From the offset it was clear that this was going to be a high quality encounter with Española looking to play the ball quickly through midfield and into their front players while Boca naturally looked to involve Juan Román Riquelme while offering additional width through their full-backs, especially left-back Clemente Rodríguez.

Out of possession the Chileans were happy to retreat onto the half way line meaning there was little pressure on Cristian Erbes the central of the three midfielders. He would therefore look to build attacks from deep and with options further ahead limited due to Española sitting back he was forced to look for longer passes into Santiago Silva or out to the wings where either his fellow central midfielders had shuttled or one of the full-backs.

Española’s worry was when the ball was played into their half and the midfield pressed. The defence would not come with them allowing Riquelme to find ample space in front of the back four and goal side of Gonzalo Villagra. With two Boca strikers occupying the defenders no one was willing to step out and close him down. There was evidence of this after 15 minutes and on the stroke of half-time.

The first instance saw Riquelme collect possession, turn and force Eduardo Lobos into an unnecessarily acrobatic save. The second was more dangerous as he clipped a delightful ball over the defence from just outside box for Darío Cvitanich, making a run across the defence, who laid a pass into the supporting Walter Erviti and Lobos was again forced into a save.

And the only goal of the first half came about when Riquelme was left unattended outside the box. But this time it was after an 11 pass move, the last four of which were devastating. Pablo Ledesma played a sweeping cross field pass to the advancing Rodríguez. The left-back, unopposed, knocked the ball first time into Riquelme who was in acres of room at the edge of the box. As everyone shaped to shoot the genius that is Juan Román laughed at us mere mortals by firing in a disguised pass with the outside of his right boot to the feet of Cvitanich before receiving the return and with his ‘weaker’ left-foot dispatching a shot across Lobos into the bottom corner. Any replay of the goal should come with the warning ‘Genius at Work’.

While most salivate over Riquelme – and rightly so – it should be noted the part Rodríguez plays; a staple of the way Boca set out. With a narrow midfield a lot of width is provided by the full-backs and Rodríguez, like he and to a lesser extent Sosa done for most of the match, bombed forward. Dagoberto Currimilla not up against a direct opponent was dragged inside to where he expected play to take place, drawn to the blue shirts; opening up room for Rodríguez’s run which was not tracked.

However Unión Española was unfortunate to be trailing at half-time. Arguably, La Furia Roja was the better side in terms of keeping the ball and creating chances. As mentioned they would drop deeper than we usually see from José Luis Sierra’s men with the formation resembling 4-1-4-1 as the two wide forwards would play more as wide midfielders when out of possession.

But in terms of attacking it was the normal Española. Sebastián Jaime and Fernando Cordero stayed high as Emmanuel Herrera linked up play, normally combining with Mauro Díaz who was afforded a floating role moving freely about the pitch and impressing at doing so.

It was when they worked the ball quickly to the right to inverted winger Fernando Cordero. Neither the fastest nor trickiest but if given time to get the ball onto his left-foot more often than not he would deliver a fine ball. Both Emmanuel Herrera and Sebastián Jaime should have done better with freed headers in front of goal. Cordero himself went close with two curling efforts having cut in on his left.

This was when La Furia Roja were at their free-flowing best, Villagra protecting and Díaz and Braulio Leal scheming in midfield. But it was harder for the Chileans when they couldn’t get the ball forward quickly. The longer they held onto the ball Boca would sink into a 4-4-1-1, Riquelme shuttling left and Silva dropping off behind Cvitanich.

There was little to write about in terms of tactics or action in the second half until Española, out of nowhere, equalised. A harmless ball out of defence looked simple for Rolando Schiavi and Juan Insaurralde. However both were drawn to the ball and a flick from Herrera sent Jaime scampering free through the middle of the defence before a confident finish. Rodríguez was too far left to cover for his centre backs mishap.

Naturally the goal provoked Boca into pushing and pressing higher up the pitch. It seemed as if the game would be defence v attack for the last 15/20 minutes but Española were brave and José Luis Sierra brought the forward thinking and piercing winger Jean Paul Pineda on for Jaime when it may have been sensible to bring on Rodolfo Madrid.

Erviti almost grabbed a deserved goal for his all round performance with a piece of individual brilliance, dancing round a handful of challenges but seeing his shot come back of the post.

Boca turned the screw with a final substitute; Julio Falcioni replacing Erbes – whose influence had waned – with Juan Sánchez Miños. Erviti now found himself as the central midfielder with Sánchez Miños wider on the left. It turned out to be a well-judged move by Falcioni. With the more dynamic Erivit in the middle the ball was moved quicker and Boca played with at a quicker tempo with greater width.

Miños had a positive impact but the winning goal came from the right-side where Pineda’s inability to protect the ball on the half way line was taken advantage of by Rivero who pressed, won the ball and gave it to substitute Pablo Mouche who exchanged passes with Riquelme before standing up a cross for Santiago ‘Battering Ram’ Silva to head the winner. Martin Palermo watching on would have been proud of the finish.

The Chileans frustrations in conceding the late goal were shown in Diego Scotti’s wild hack at Riquelme which earned him a straight red card.