When the clock ticked down to midnight on the 31st December there would have been much reminiscing in Santiago from Azul Azul fans after Universidad de Chile completed an unprecedented Apertura, Clausura and Copa Sudamericana treble with a thumping 3-0 second-leg win over Cobreloa in the Estadio Nacional on the 29th after a goal-less first-leg on Boxing Day.
In 2011 Chilean football may have witnessed a team that will go down as one of the best and most successful in the country’s history. A look at how they arrived at three trophies in a year and countless records broken can be read in more detail here.
Over the two-legged final La U showed their dominance in the end after what can only be described as an edgy and gritty first-leg in Calama. There was little in the way of goal mouth action. However there was controversy as Cobreloa had a goal controversially ruled out. Nicolás Trecco’s flicked header from a corner was met by Diego Barrios who saw his own header come down off the bar prompting a scramble on the La U line between Jhonny Herrera and Cobreloa defender Sebastián Roco. Herrera managed to trap the ball under his legs but it was knocked free and Barrios bundled the ball behind the line. The referee, Eduardo Gamboa, adjudged Herrera to have had the ball under his control.
It is said that third time’s a charm. Except for Universidad de Chile, where it’s 5th time lucky. The famous Chilean team had never before competed in a Continental final, sitting in the shadow cast by their rivals Colo Colo’s 1991 Copa Liberatadores and 1992 Recopa Sudamericana successes.
However that may be about to change after defeating Brazilian’s Vasco da Gama 2-0 (agg 3-1) in the second leg of the Copa Sudamericana semi-final to their book their place in their first ever Continental final at the 5th time of asking.
Goals from Gustavo Canales and Eduardo Vargas either side of half-time eased La U into the final where they will now meet Ecuador’s LDU Quito.
There was one change from the first leg for La U, Matías Rodríguez coming in for Gustavo Lorenzetti, giving the team a balance that he provided when he came on in the first half in Brazil.
What is it with this Universidad de Chile side? 25 games unbeaten, a Chilean record broken for consecutive minutes without conceding in international competition, a 4-0 destruction of Flamengo in Brazil and on Sunday in the Superclásico rescuing a draw in the 101st minute despite playing the whole of the second half with not eleven, not ten but nine men. And I haven’t mentioned the talent in the team or the vibrancy in the side’s play.
Now – thanks to a hard-fought performance – the club’s first ever competitive win on Argentine soil.
Arsenal are the antithesis of their English namesake; set up in a 4-4-1-1 shape they favour a direct approach, two traditional wingers in Diego Torres and Juan Pablo Caffa supporting a front two of Emilio Zelaya and the target-man and focal point of the Arsenal attack Mauro Obolo, charged with holding the ball up. The midfield base of Jorge Ortíz and Iván Marcone play a simple game, if one goes forward to support the other stays to protect the defence; essential with the forward runs of both full-backs.
By now we all know how Universidad de Chile like to play; a fast possession based game, suiting their diminutive personnel while putting pressure on the opposition when out of possession. The starting line-up was identical to the one which started away to Flamengo. However Matías Rodríguez was pushed into a more advanced role down the left, making a 3-1-3-1-2 almost as you can see from the formation diagram.
The performance was unlike the one in Brazil the previous round; Arsenal not allowing the plethora of attacking talent – which La U possess – the space in which they can run rings around the opposition. Instead they were drawn into a battle that got feisty and niggly as the game wore on.