Huachipato Stun San Lorenzo In Buenos Aires In Sudamericana + Superclásico Preview
Mixed week for Chilean sides in continental competition, U23 Player of the Week and Superclasico Preview
It was a disappointing week for Chilean sides in the Libertadores - which I feel is one of my most used phrases in the past decade of covering South American football.
On Thursday night, Universidad Católica put in a timid, dull and defensive display that unsurprisingly ended in a 2-0 defeat against Atletico Nacional in Colombia. For anybody who had analysed their matches so far this season, this was a result and performance many could see coming.. Gustavo Poyet has his work cut out to turn around a side that look like they simply don’t enjoy playing for him. The body language of the players, even in victories does not look good. They must really look to get a win at home to Argentinos Juniors next week or they will face a real uphill battle to qualify. As it stands, they lack direction and identity and it seems clear that Poyet doesn’t know his best team and is perhaps staying too loyal to Luciano Aued in midfield, which desperately needs some energy.
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Union La Calera were unfortunate not to beat LDU Quito in their first-ever Libertadores match on Wednesday night. They led twice, but had to settle for a 2-2 draw after conceding what looked like a cross-cum-shot from Billy Arce late on. Fans will be heartened by Andres Vilches getting a brace and by the fact that overall they did themselves proud with a decent performance in a lively group opener. The issue is that it doesn’t get any easier from here: 2019 Libertadores champions Flamengo in the Maracaná await them next week.
Huachipato were the only Chilean side to record a victory in continental competition this week, downing San Lorenzo 1-0 in Buenos Aires. It was a famous and deserved victory for Juan Luvera’s men who continue to impress. They approached this game with a refreshing fearlessness that few Chilean sides have shown in recent years in continental competition. They were much the better and more proactive side in the first half and a fantastic diving header from Cris Martinez from a hooked cross the ever-impressive Israel Poblete saw them lead at the break. Huachipato, with their young centre-back pairing of Nicolas Ramirez and Ignacio Tapia, defended resolutely second half to close out the win. The closest San Lorenzo came to scoring was an own goal while the Chileans missed two big chances in injury time to make it two.
Conmebol competition regulars Palestino started their Sudamericana campaign with a 2-0 defeat against Libertad. They created some decent chances and could have easily taken the lead in both halves. However, a red card for Agustin Farias meant it was a uphill struggle for Los Árabes for much of the second half and two goals in quick succession from the Paraguayans midway through the second half put pay to any hopes of a point or three.
U23 Player of the Week
This week’s award goes to Huachipato centre forward Maxi Rodriguez who had the best week of his career so far. He was at the double against Ñublense in a thrilling 5-3 win over the newly-promoted side. Those were his first professional goals and they came over 800 minutes into his career. Rodriguez then led the line well against San Lorenzo on Wednesday night, notably looking much more confident - buoyed by his brace at the weekend. It will be interesting to see if the 20-year-old number 9 can kick on from here.
Also, a special mention to Colo-Colo forward Ivan Morales who scored and assisted against Everton just days after losing his mother. Morales has got off to a great start this season, is this the year he finally fulfils his potential? Time will tell. His goals were enjoyed by this Colo-Colo fan that’s for sure…
Chilean Primera Division Matchday 4 Review
The highlight of Matchday 4 was the thriller in Talcahuano between Huachipato and Ñublense. As mentioned above Los Acereros are becoming the side to watch in Chile and their victory in an eight-goal rollercoaster of a match meant they moved up to 6th and remain unbeaten. Delving into the data, Huachipato are the side so far with the fewest shots conceded and the lowest xGa while being very productive at the other end. Their figures and style under Luvera are Bielsaesque and it will be interesting to see if they can keep it up while managing two competitions.
Colo-Colo impressed again in their win over Everton and it might be time to start thinking of this side as one that can challenge at the top rather than the one we saw just escape relegation last year. Los Albos beat Everton in perhaps the most comprehensive display I’ve seen from any side this season.
Universidad Católica returned to the top after a 2-1 win over Curicó Unido, but it was a lacklustre display from the reigning champions. Under Poyet, only O’Higgins have averaged fewer shots per 90 minutes than Católica, a worrying statistic given the level of talent in their ranks and the fixtures they’ve had so far.
In a top of the table clash heading into the fourth matchday, Union La Calera and Audax Italiano played out a fairly entertaining 1-1 draw - both sides have shown a decent level so far and have emerged as early dark horses.
Palestino claimed their first win of the season but were slightly fortunate to beat newly-promoted Melipilla away. O’Higgins and Deportes La Serena played out a fairly dull goalless draw while a young Santiago Wanderers side were beaten again, this time a 2-1 defeat by Cobresal. Tall Venezuelan winger Brayan Hurtado continues to impress for Cobresal.
Universidad de Chile were unconvincing in their 2-1 victory over Unión Española in Rancagua. Both current managers (Rafael Dudamel and Jorge Pellicer) of these two sides are hanging by a thread and it will be a surprise if either make it another month of the season without getting sacked.
Clásico del Norte Preview
In Primera B, one of the great rivalries of Chilean football is renewed with Deportes Iquique taking on San Marcos de Arica on Matchday 3 of the season on Sunday at midday Chilean time. Arica have got four points from their first two matches and have looked like a surprise promotion contender while Iquique have only played the one match so far - a 2-2 draw with fellow recently relegated side Coquimbo.
Initially this match wasn’t scheduled for TV (TNT Sports), but a joint protest from the social media accounts of the two clubs together with fans of both teams saw the broadcaster change their mind. It will now be seen as the warmup act for the biggest game in the Chilean club football calendar:
In the top flight Colo-Colo take on Universidad de Chile in what will be another chance for La U to break their wretched run against Los Albos. La U haven’t beaten their fierce rivals in eight years now and you have to go back two decades for the last time they won in El Monumental. Arguably the closest they came was just three months ago when a poor decision from Jimmy Martinez through on goal at 0-0 late on in the game saw La U blow the chance to claim a historic victory and send Colo-Colo deeper into crisis.
However now it feels like La U are the side coming into this fixture with a greater crisis hanging over them after a run of poor displays and a Covid-19 scandal caused by their manager.
Historically, this is a one-sided affair in El Monumental and it would be a genuine surprise if Los Azules sprang a surprise this time. Colo-Colo have started the season looking confident with some freedom to play while La U have played with the handbreak on.
Universidad Católica, Huachipato and Palestino are not in action this week, mainly due to the timings of their continental competition commitments. Here’s the rest of the fixtures with the Superclàsico the real standout:
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