Munoz continued his fine goal scoring form (not a picture from Sunday)
Any passer-by, with a semblance of world football knowledge, looking at the Clausura table would be surprised to see the traditional trio of Chilean giants placed 4th, 5th and 6th.
And as the old adage goes ‘the league table never lies’; in first place we have Deportes Iquique, followed by Rangers and then Palestino. Collectively they have won 21 games of the 36 they’ve played in the Clausura compared to the 17 victories Colo Colo, Universidad Católica and Universidad de Chile have amassed in the same number of games.
But they will have to continue their fine form to hold off the challenge of Colo Colo who currently rampant as they look to Continental competition for the first time in two years.
Down at the bottom the fight continues to avoid the bottom four places in the annual table; bottom two are automatically relegated while 3rd and 4th bottom contest a play-off with sides from the Primera B.
However on paper there was only one contender for game of the week, the Clausura’s first el clásico as Universidad Católica entertained Colo Colo at the Estadio San Carlos. And that is the focus of this week’s round-up:
Once again there wasn’t a full card of games in the Chile Primera División with Universidad de Chile travelling back from their Suruga Bank Championship disappointment.
So for the third time in five rounds it was left to the others to stake a claim as ‘likely challengers’ to La U’s dominance. And once again Colo Colo and Universidad Católica were nowhere to be seen, both struggling to draws.
Rangers on the other hand opened up a two point gap at the top with a win at Cobreloa. Audax Italiano and Cobresal failed to win but will be happy with draws away to Palestino and Unión La Calera.
Deportes Iquique’s strange behaviour continued as they fell to another heavy defeat while miracles do exist after all. Unión San Felipe won. Although in Valparaíso they are more sceptical after Santiago Wanderers didn’t.
Meneses returned for Cato but couldn’t prevent the draw
With Universidad de Chile heading to Japan via Australia to take part in the Suruga Bank Championship against Kashima Antlers it was another week for those at the top of the Clausura to extend their lead over the winners of the last three Campeonato’s.
Audax Italiano, Cobresal and Rangers done just that as the trio remain beaten having each won two and drawn two. Audax and Rangers in particular recorded emphatic victories; the latter’s defeat of Iquique especially impressive.
On the back of signing exciting forward players both Colo Colo and Universidad Católica looked good value to pick up wins at Unión La Calera and Anotfagasta respectively. But despite both playing to their fans’ expectations in sizeable periods of their matches they were both left disappointed due to conceding to a 90th and 93rd minute equalisers.
Down at the bottom of the table Unión San Felipe edge closer to the drop having picked up one win in 17, while on current form it will be Santiago Wanderers who will be joining them in Primera B.
As good as they are at playing high-intensity, exciting football, Chile are just as adept at shooting themselves in the foot; well the players certainly are. Once again Claudio ‘Bichi’ Borghi has had to contend with off-field problems only days before a crucial World Cup qualifying double-header against Uruguay and Paraguay.
The squad that will be looking to add to the three points gained from the first pair of fixtures is much changed from the one that was announced at the end of October after five players were excluded from selection.
Jorge Valdivia, Arturo Vidal, Jean Beausejour, Carlos Carmona and Gonzalo Jara were sent away from La Roja squad having arrived back 45 minutes late from the christening of one of Valdivia’s sons. There were rumours that some had alcohol on their breath but ‘Bichi’ only announced that the players were ‘not in a proper state’.