Universidad Católica Lift The Supercopa
UC claim the Chilean Super Cup after a stunning comeback, Carlos Palacios moves on to pastures new and it is nothing but bad news in the Libertadores.
Supercopa de Chile - Universidad Católica 4-2 Colo-Colo
One hour into this game, my review of it would have been that Colo-Colo looked like potential title contenders while Universidad Católica were a shadow of the side that had won the last three league titles.
However, after the full 90 minutes it was clear that the status quo had very much been maintained. Católica made a stunning comeback from two goals down to win the first piece of silverware on offer this season in Chile.
Gustavo Poyet’s initial starting XI and tactics were not functioning, but a switch in tactics and personnel just after Colo-Colo went 2-0 up changed the game. Poyet had promised a high-intensity style but that was absent for the first half of this contest.
Just before the hour mark, Diego Valencia, Raimondo Rebellado and Marcelino Nuñez, three UC youth products with an average age of 21, were subbed on and they injected youthful enthusiasm into Poyet’s side.
This swung the momentum of the match in Católica’s favour. The performance of midfielder Marcelino Nuñez was especially one to get excited over. Nuñez’s dynamism, intelligent running and passing instantly impacted the game. His goal to put Católica 3-2 up, a burst into the box from midfield, would have been a goal his manager would have been proud of in his prime.
Gonzalo Tapia, potentially the next big thing in Chilean football, grabbed a brace. Tapia was perhaps extra motivated for this having missed out on the Chile squad to teammate Clemente Montes. Yet Poyet didn’t even name Montes on the bench for this final, while Tapia played the full ninety and picked up the Man of the Match award.
For Colo-Colo, the match ended in disgrace. The Cató comeback was embarrassing for them and centre back Maxi Falcon completely lost his head deep into injury time. The Uruguayan punched Valber Huerta on two separate occasions either side of earning a red card. He is set for a lengthy ban, which is set to leave Colo-Colo short of defensive options as the league season gets underway.
Libertadores 2021 (Men)
Last Tuesday, Unión Española crashed out of the Libertadores after a pitiful first half surrender against Independiente del Valle. Few observers of the game admire the Ecuadorian outfit as much as I do, but Pellicer got his tactics and team selection badly wrong here and made this far too easy for IDV.
It was a long first-half where UE were cut to pieces time and time again with very little service into their attacking players at the other end to quell the onslaught.
When Pellicer fixed the issues at half-time, UE were able to open up IDV on numerous occasions in the second half. And having been 4-0 (4-1 on agg.) down at HT, they looked at 5-3 on aggregate like they were still very much in the tie.
However, a combination of poor finishing and the inability of Uruguayan striker Cristian Palacios to stay onside frustrated them and they were eventually killed off in injury time and that match finished 6-3 on aggregate.
The performance of centre midfielder Victor Mendez, who was introduced at the break, meant one positive could be taken from this game. Although Pellicer must regret not starting him.
Last Wednesday, Universidad de Chile faced an uphill task in their second leg against San Lorenzo, This was especially true once they had learned of the thirteen Covid-19 cases wiping out much of their senior squad — including their first choice defensive players.
San Lorenzo took advantage and sentenced La U to a 2-0 defeat on the night, 3-1 on aggregate. For La U their best hope in this tie was at 1-0 against 10 men in the first leg, but Dudamel and his men rarely look like a side capable of switching style. Therefore winning in Buenos Aires always felt unlikely once they went behind, and that would have probably been the case even if they had been at full strength.
La U can take some heart from the fact that a couple of the youngsters thrown into the deep end in this Libertadores clash did not drown under the weight of expectation. Mauricio Morales showed bravery on the ball in midfield while right-back Daniel Navarette was heavily involved and showed great energy and confidence. Both might now be considered as first-team options by Dudamel.
Unfortunately, the exit of UE and La U means Chile will only have two sides in the group stage of the Libertadores which kicks off in April - Universidad Católica and Union La Calera.
Good Luck Carlos Palacios
If you have followed my Twitter coverage over the years on Chilean football then it is likely you’ve seen me get increasingly excited about Carlos Palacios. In my decade of being in Chile, Palacios has possibly been the best breakthrough talent I’ve seen emerge domestically.
I wrote about him last year when he was still very much under the radar even in Chile (see tweet above). He really exploded in the second half of last year once Chilean football restarted. Union Española’s second leg performance against IDV was an unfitting way for La Joya to exit the stage. However, it will be exciting to see him in Brazil in the near future in the red of Sport Club Internacional.
Libertadores 2020 (Women)
Universidad de Chile suffered a heartbreaking semi-final against Ferroviária despite being the better team for a good portion of the game. The match finished 0-0 and a missed penalty by Yessenia Lopez just before halftime cost them dear as did another one during sudden death in the shootout. At 5-5 in the shootout, Rebeca Fernandez had a penalty that would have sent them through to the final, but she saw her spot-kick agonisingly saved.
Ultimately, the Brazilian side held their nerve better in a strange penalty shootout that saw a changing of the end during it. With a hint of fortune, Ferroviária then beat America de Cali 2-1 in the final. The Brazilians had to beat an understrength La U side just to make it out the groups. La U eventually finished 4th after a 4-0 defeat to Corinthians in the third-place playoff.
America de Cali was a beatable opponent in the final so this was a massive missed opportunity for Universidad de Chile who have now lost star striker Daniela Zamora to European football.
Defender Carla Guerrero proved throughout the tournament she is still one of the best South American defenders around while Natalia Campos in goal pulled off some stunning saves and commanded her box well.
It is worth noting that the 2021 edition of the competition will be in Chile later this year as Conmebol look to catch up after the pandemic wiped out their 2020 women’s calendar.
Hopefully the Chilean sides can use hosting the competition to their advantage and have added motivation, especially if crowds have been allowed to return.
Season Preview 2021 - Coming Soon
I’m delighted to announce that I will be producing a season preview via this platform before the big kick-off of the Chilean Primera Division this Saturday. I will give a brief overview of each side and highlight some key players both young and old.
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