Such are the complexities of the Chilean league system that we go into the final weekend of the 2013/2014 Clausura with a trio of teams playing for both survival and qualification to the liguilla play-offs.
Audax Italiano, Everton and Unión La Calera will take to the field on Saturday knowing a win is likely to save them from relegation and also give them a chance of entering the play-offs which will decide Chile’s fourth and final representative in the Copa Sudamericana to be played later this year.
However, we will start with the relegation battle where the most interest lies. Audax’s 2-0 win in Talca against Rangers on Saturday condemned Los Rojinegros to Primera B with the second and final relegation spot to be decided between four teams: Everton, La Calera, Audax and Huachipato.
Thanks to Mario Salas and an excellent recent record – six wins and two draws from the last nine league games – to lift Los Acereros to sixth in the Clausura, four points behind third place, the club are effectively safe. Their 6-0 win at La Calera at the weekend put them three points ahead of their opponents and Everton with a stronger goal difference.
Huachipato welcome Everton to Talcahuano on Saturday afternoon knowing a draw confirms their position in next season’s Primera División. Meanwhile, under the guidance of Nelson Acosta, Everton are in a precarious position having performed poorly in both the Apertura and Clausura. In the Apertura there were only three teams to record a worse points tally than them, Rangers, Huachipato and the team they have the most realistic chance of catching, La Calera.
La Calera, despite the goals of Leandro Benegas, find themselves in deep trouble with their final fixture taking place in the capital at the Estadio San Carlos where Saturday’s opponents Universidad Católica have only lost one of their seven games in the Clausura and will be looking to cement their place at the top of the Acumulada table. Although they claimed neither league title UC are set to finish with the best combined record.
The final team involved in the relegation reckoning, Audax Italiano are a point above Everton and La Calera and welcome Palestino to La Florida. Like Huachipato, with the talent at their disposal, Audax should not should be going into the final day to confirm their place in next season’s Primera. They play positive football and in players like Bryan Carrasco and Felipe Mora they have the talent to trouble the best of sides. However, defensive lapses have proved their downfall but as they showed in Saturday’s win at Rangers they are more than ready for the battle. Having already confirmed their place in the Copa Sudamericana play-offs Palestino have little to play for.
All four teams kick-off at the same time on Saturday – 15.30 local time.
As for the liguilla play-offs, two teams have already qualified for the post-season matches: Palestino and Universidad de Concepción.
Universidad Católica secured their place in the continent’s second tournament having finished with the most points over the two tournaments. They can still be caught by O’Higgins but the Rancagua side have already participated in the Copa Libertadores therefore they can’t play in the Sudamericana. Deportes Iquique had already qualified having finished runners-up to La U in the liguilla play-offs following the conclusion of the Apertura. Therefore, having defeated Huachipato in the Copa Chile last week, a place went to their beaten opponents.
Looking to join Palestino and Universidad de Concepción in the play-offs are Deportes Antofagasta and Cobreloa, who are currently occupying the necessary positions, and La Calera, Cobresal, Ñublense, Santiago Wanderers, Everton and Audax Italiano.
Antofagasta play host to Santiago Wanderers; Cobresal are at home to Unión Española; Ñublense welcome champions Colo Colo; and Cobreloa travel to the Estadio Santa Laura to play an under performing Universidad de Chile.
The final day will also decide who will finish as the top goal scorer of the Clausura with three players realistically involved. David Llanos’ hat-trick for Huachipato in their 6-0 win at La Calera propelled him to the top of the charts with 13 goals, two ahead of Esteban Paredes and Patricio Rubio.
Paredes will be looking to net in Colo Colo’s away fixture with Ñublense, while Rubio will be hoping Universidad de Chile recover from their slump at home to Cobreloa to help him catch Llanos and hold-off the Colo Colo front man.
Meanwhile, the date for the Supercopa between O’Higgins and Deportes Iquique has been set for May 3 at 16.30 in the Estadio San Carlos.
Iquique qualified as Copa Chile winners, while O’Higgins are their opponents due to their Apertura win and having recorded more points in the Acumulada table than Clausura winners Colo Colo.