After taking a break for the World Cup qualifiers the Primera Division returns to action this weekend as we head into the second half of this shortened season.
Action kicks off on Thursday night with Rangers de Talca playing host to Santiago Wanderers. The home side goes into the match off the back of consecutive wins and will be hoping to make it three in a row against a Wanderers side that comes into the match off the back of a 4-1 thrashing at the hands of Antofagasta. If recent encounters are any guide there is sure to be plenty of goals in this one with thirteen goals being scored in their last three matches.
With no games taking place on Good Friday the round’s next match is at midday on Saturday as top of the table Unión Española host the struggling Iquique. This is one of those classic encounters of a team with one of the best attacks in the league against one of the most porous defences plus Unión Española will be full of confidence following a 5-0 demolition of Everton.
Iquique, will be hoping for a change in fortunes under new manager Jaime Vera, who was an assistant to Claudio Borghi during his stint in charge of the national team. Unión have won three out of the last four encounters between the two teams, scoring an impressive thirteen goals in the process and with the multi-pronged attack they possess a few more are sure to be added to that tally.
Hot on the heels of Unión Española are O’Higgins, who are only behind los hispanos on goal difference, and they take on Everton in the weekend’s next match. O’Higgins are unbeaten since the start of the season and are currently on a three match winning streak. Meanwhile Everton, after an impressive start to the season, have lost their last two matches including a 5-0 thrashing at the hands of Unión Española which put a rather large dent in their previously impressive defensive record. If previous encounters are anything to go by then there won’t be many goals in this one with neither team scoring more than a single goal in their last four matches.
It seems to be a regular occurrence that Cobreloa features in the match of the round and the ninth round is no exception as they travel to Santiago to take on Universidad de Chile. Whilst Cobreloa and Universidad de Chile are in third and fifth places respectively they both have sixteen points but are separated by the northerner’s superior goal difference. Whilst most teams took a rest during the international break both teams were in action in their first leg semi-finals of the seemingly never ending Copa Chile. Both teams drew their respective encounters against Unión Española (Universidad de Chile) and Universidad Católica (Cobreloa) with La U’s encounter finishing scoreless whilst for Cobreloa their match finished in a 3-3 draw.
Key for los azules will be shutting down Cobreloa’s firepower in the form of Marcos Sebastián Pol and Miguel Ángel Cuéllar who between them have scored ten of their team’s twenty goals, which is the most by any team in the competition. What will give La U some confidence is that it has been thirteen matches since they have lost to their opponents, with twelve of those matches being wins.
The next match of the round features two of the surprise packets of the season, Ñublense and Huachipato, although for very different reasons. Ñublense, who returned to the Primera Division at the first attempt, currently sit in sixth position having only lost one match so far this season and that was way back in round two. Meanwhile Huachipato have struggled to combine the rigours of a Copa Libertadores campaign with domestic duties and with only two wins to their name they are struggling in fourteenth position on the table.
Huachipato will be confident of a win against their southern rivals having not lost to the team from Chillian in the last six meetings, winning the last four of these. Ñublense will take some heart that their opponents still have one eye on their continents commitments.
Saturday’s final match sees San Marcos de Arica play host to Unión La Calera in the Estadio Carlos Dittborn. Both teams come into the match off the back of two consecutive losses although their positions on the table is markedly different with La Calera in seventh position and San Marcos in sixteenth. What is also playing on San Marcos’ mind is that they are sitting dead last on the coeficiente de rendimiento table and are very much facing a quick return to Primera B so a win is very much needed. These two teams have never before in the Primera Division with their last encounters taking place in the Primera B back in 2010, where they played each other four times. The record from that year stands at two wins for La Calera, one win for San Marcos and a draw with fourteen goals being scored. If that is anything to go by this is sure to be a high scoring encounter.
Following their midweek encounter with Cobreloa, Universidad Católica continue the clásico del cobre theme as they take on Cobresal in Sunday’s opening match. Things are not looking good for Cobresal, who stayed in the Primera Division via a playoff last year, with only one point being picked up in their eight matches so far this season which leaves them on the bottom of the regular season table and second last in the coeficiente de rendimiento table. Meanwhile los cruzados bounced back from two consecutive losses with a win over Clausura champions Huachipato in their last start and will be confident of another three points against a deflated Cobresal side that hasn’t defeated them in their last four meetings.
The action continues in the north of the country with Sunday’s next match as Antofagasta play host to Palestino in their recently opened Estadio Bicentenario Regional. Both teams are separated by a point with Palestino in twelfth position on nine points whilst Antofagasta are in thirteenth on eight points. Like Cobresal and San Marcos, Antofagasta has one eye very much fixed on the coeficiente de rendimiento table, where they currently sit in third last position. There were wins for both teams in their last matches with a late surge seeing los pumas defeat Santiago Wanderers 4-1 whilst Palestino made it two wins in a row with a 3-2 defeat of Cobresal. Palestino after a slow start to the season will be confident of win over their rivals, having last lost to them in 2006 although to be fair to Antofagasta they weren’t in the same division as their opponents from 2009 to 2011.
The round’s last encounter takes place in the Estadio Bicentenario La Florida with Audax Italiano playing host to fellow Santiguans, Colo Colo. Both teams come into the match of the back of poor form with neither team picking up three points in any of their last three matches. Their last meeting in the Clausura quarter finals saw a nine goal thriller where los italicos edged their opponents 5-4 but were unable to overturn an earlier two goal loss. That win by Audax was their first against los albos since the 2011 Apertura season, with Colo Colo winning their next four meetings. As alluded to earlier both teams don’t have much of a form guide so picking a winner in this one is anyone’s guess.
Primera Division Torneo Transición 2013 , Round nine fixtures
Rangers vs. S. Wanderers (Thurs 20:00, Bicentenario Fiscal)
U. Española vs. Iquique (Sat 12:00, Santa Laura)
Everton vs. O’Higgins (Sat 15:30, Bicentenario Lucio Fariña)
U. de Chile vs. Cobreloa (Sat 18:00, Nacional)
Ñublense vs. Huachipato (Sat 20:30, Bicentenario Nelson Oyarzún)
SM Arica vs. U. La Calera (Sat 22:00, Bicentenario Carlos Dittborn)
Cobresal vs. U. Católica (Sun 15:30, El Cobre)
Antofagasta vs. Palestino (Sun 16:00, Bicentenario Regional)
Audax Italiano vs. Colo Colo (Sun 18:00, Bicentenario La Florida)