Claudio Borghi has come under fire from all angles (img: apurogol.net)
It has been a while since we discussed Chile on here, but when we do there are usually off-field matters to talk about first, taking focus away from crucial World Cup qualifying matches. And once again it is no different as La Roja prepares for the upcoming double header; away to Ecuador on Friday and Tuesday’s home match with Argentina.
Only this time Claudio ‘Bichi’ Borghi has had to contend with more than one problem. Firstly, he won’t be on the sidelines in Ecuador or Santiago. A four-match FIFA ban – reduced from five – means that assistant Jamie Vera will take charge from the touchline.
Borghi was given a suspension due to a confrontation with the Colombian officials in Chile’s 2-0 away victory against Venezuela that saw the coach sent to the stands. It was reported that Borghi used ‘racist’ language. A claim Borghi has vehemently denied; Borghi is very likely to be telling the truth, shown by FIFA’s reduced sentence and recent documents that shed light on the incident. Borghi’s only offence seems to be using overly aggressive language towards the fourth official.
Santos lifted the Recopa Sudamericana for the first time in their history after a 2-0 aggregate win over Copa Sudamericana holders Universidad de Chile. The first-leg in a wet Santiago finished 0-0 but the quality and pace of the Brazilians on the break proved too much for La U in what was an entertaining and fast-paced encounter.
Jorge Sampaoli had one player in mind when setting La U up in a 4-3-1-2 formation; Neymar. The conservative Albert Acevedo was played at right-back in a flat back four with Matías Rodríguez moved into a right of centre midfield position. In his comments to the press on the eve of the game it was clear how important Sampaoli regarded Neymar, stating that “Santos depend too much on one player (Neymar).”
Santos were sent out in a more functional 4-4-2 by coach Muricy Ramalho; Neymar given freedom to roam around Andre with Felipe Anderson and Patricio Rodriguez on the wings and Arouca and Adriano the holding pair in midfield.
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.
O’Higgins are 90 minutes away from completing an historic moment in the club’s 57-year history. Having never won a top division Championship O’Higgins take a slender 2-1 lead into the second-leg of the Apertura play-off final.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that they will have to draw or defeat Universidad de Chile in the Estadio Nacional. Thee Universidad de Chile. The same Universidad de Chile side that recovered from a 4-1 first-leg defeat to Deportivo Quito in the Copa Libertadores by running amok with a 6-0 second-leg victory. And only last week they saw Colo Colo’s 2-0 win in the Apertura semi-final first-leg and rose them with a 4-0 win in the second.
But as Jorge Osorio signalled the end of the game last night the second-leg did not seem to be at the forefront of the players and fans’ thoughts as they cavorted and celebrated a second win over La U in 2012 – another win that they deserved.
Henriquez celebrates the winner (image: taringa.net)
Universidad de Chile became one of the first teams to confirm their place in the last-16 of the Copa Libertadores with a fine away performance in Mendoza, completing a double over Argentine’s Godoy Cruz.
Chances came thick and fast in the first 45 minutes, which had to be extended to 56 due to floodlight failure mid-way through the half, but it was Ángelo Henríquez’s strike that was the difference. Despite their precarious position in the group Godoy Cruz struggled to threaten La U’s three-man backline often in what was a solid rearguard action, minus one or two blemishes, notably from the long ball.
Nery Pumpido, Godoy’s coach, switched to a back three in a 3-4-1-2 from their usual 4-4-2 used in the first leg. However the back three played more like a back five with the wing-backs being forced deep by La U’s; Matías Rodríguez and Eugenio Mena forceful and aggressive in their wing-play as the Chileans fluid 3-4-3 dominated the game.
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.