After a stay of execution afforded to him in the aftermath of the defeats to Ecuador and Argentina in the last batch of World Cup qualifiers, Claudio Borghi knew he and his Chilean side had to deliver a performance of significant improvement in the friendly with Serbia.
Ninety torrid minutes later and Borghi had departed, or has he told the media sacked. Ninety insipid minutes; the match clock not acting as a timer for the game but a countdown until La Roja were Borghi-less, something which fans up and down the Chilean peninsula were eager to see.
Just over 12 months ago La U travelled to Brazil to put in arguably their most devastating performance under Jorge Sampaoli as they obliterated a Flamengo team including Ronaldinho 4-0; prompting headlines in Brazil comparing Los Azules to Barcelona.
On Wednesday night La U were back in Brazil in the quarter-finals of the Copa Sudamericana and in act of symmetry, if that’s the correct word, La U were handed their worst night since Sampaoli took over – if not their worst then certainly their most embarrassing.
From start to finish São Paulo, ruthless and efficient, stormed through La U to devastating effect; Jadson opening and then closing the scoring (there’s that symmetry again) as the Brazilians stuck five past Jhonny Herrera.
La U knew they had to win and Sampaoli set out his team to do just that. And then apologised after for doing so, solely taking the blame.
São Paulo’s pace and precision on the counter-attack was out of this world. Lucas, who moves to France in the new year, scored and put on a show as if to say I’m worth (the reported) £35m, while Luis Fabiano netted the goal of the game, reminiscent to the one Hernan Crespo scored against Liverpool in that Champions League final. Even centre-back Rafael Toloi got in on the act, thundering in a free-kick from 30 yards.
La U and UC look to set up a Clasico Universitario semi-final
The Copa Sudamericana quarter-final second-leg’s kick-off tonight as Universidad de Chile travel to Brazil in an attempt to overturn a 2-0 first-leg loss to Sao Paulo. So what exactly happened in the first-leg’s? Better late than never, I will quickly run through some of the taking points with the addition of highlights of each match and a brief preview on this week’s games.
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.
Universidad de Chile’s hunt for an unprecedented seven trophies in 2012 took another blow in Japan.
Defeat on penalties to Kashima Antlers in the Suruga Bank Championship means it is now one trophy, the 2012 Apertura, from three with a further four to come in the second half of the year – Clausura, Copa Sudamericana, Recopa Sudamericana and Copa Chile.
Jorge Sampaoli and the club were taking the game in Kashima with the utmost seriousness. Arriving in Australia last week to prepare; acclimatising to the time difference and conditions.
Sampaoli’s ambitions were reflected in his team selection and his minor dispute with the ANFP as he wanted to postpone Ángelo Henríquez’s departure with the Under-20 side currently touring Europe until after the match.
The match had entered stoppage time. There were barely five minutes of stoppage time remaining. Universidad de Chile were trailing O’Higgins 3-2 on aggregate in the Apertura play-off final. The end of a glorious era was approaching a heartbreaking finale. This once in a generation team that had won the club its first ever continental title had run out of energy, verve and most importantly ingenuity.
The 101st game was going the same way as the 100th, 98th, 97th and 96th; disappointment and there seemed little Jorge Sampaoli or his players could do about it.
But then a sudden burst from substitute Roberto Cereceda down the right dissected O’Higgins and created space for a cross. On his weaker right foot he clipped the ball into the box. There he was, positioned just as he was in the first-leg, Guillermo Marino. The veteran Argentine may not possess the pace of Junior Fernándes or the explosiveness of Matías Rodríguez or boundless energy of Charles Aránguiz but what he does harness is a technical ability and composure that would not look out of place in some of the best teams in the world. As the ball was clipped to him time seemed to slow, the Estadio Nacional wanted just one more reason to rock but before that came the silence, the intake of breath. Many would panic and thrash at the ball; others would take a touch before being blocked, but not Marino. Where players would lose their heads Marino stalked the ball with his eyes. Marino and the ball, the only two objects that mattered. With his right foot he guided the cross back across goal and into the bottom corner, Luis Marín scraping his fingers against the ball.
‘The Red One’ has teamed up with Chile’s premier English language media group ‘I Love Chile‘ to provide even more news and comment on Chilean football.
O’Higgins dealt Universidad de Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli a defeat in his 100th game in charge of the club; a play-off final first-leg. Here Daniel Boyle takes a look at the stats surrounding his first 99 games at the helm of La U . . .
Coach Jorge Sampaoli will reach the mark of one hundred games at the helm of Universidad de Chile when “La U” take on O’Higgins in the first leg of the 2012 Apertura final tomorrow, Thursday June 28. The team that the Argentine assembled at the beginning of 2011 has dominated the Chilean scene, winning both the Apertura and Clausura tournaments in 2011, as well as the club’s first international triumph, the Copa Sudamericana.
Sampaoli’s story at “La U” started on January 29, 2011, when they played against La Serena and tied 1-1. Considering that game and the players who performed against Colo Colo on Sunday,there are five familiar names: Johnny Herrera, Matías Rodríguez, José Rojas, Charles Aránguiz and Guillermo Marino.