With just only three rounds remaining and the international break upon us it’s time look at some of the talking points from the 2014 Apertura season.
A Battle In Three
For a while now it has been a battle in three for this season’s title with Universidad de Chile leading the pack on 37 points, Colo Colo two points back, and the surprise packet of this season Santiago Wanderers a further point back. Such has been the dominance of these three teams, who have only lost four games between them, that Wanderers have opened a twelve point lead over fourth placed Unión La Calera.
With a two point lead at the top of the table it would appear that Universidad de Chile would be in the box seat to claim their seventeenth Primera Division title and with remaining fixtures against Barnechea, Ñublense and Unión La Calera it will be hard to go against Martin Lasarte’s men. What may play on Lasarte’s mind is his time at Universidad Católica where his charges finished second, once on goal difference and the other in a playoff. A league win here would go a long way to putting to bed those demons and raise his standard as one of the better managers the Primera Division has seen in recent years.
Having strengthened on their 2014 Clausura winning team many expected, including ourselves, that Colo Colo would romp their way to their 31st Primera Division title. However, despite having a stellar season, they find themselves two points behind their arch rivals, on whom they inflicted their only defeat of the season so far. Los albos have a slightly more difficult run that La U as they face Universidad Católica in a clasico in the next round, followed by the lowly Cobreloa and finishing the season with a mouth watering tie against Santiago Wanderers. It looks an uphill battle for that 31st title but if they should get the same amount of points come the end of the season it sets up a superclasico playoff to decide the title.
Santiago Wanderers, under the tutelage of former Palestino Manager Emiliano Astorga, have been a revelation this season winning eleven of their fourteen matches so far this season. The key to their excellent season has been the form of Roberto Gutierrez and Jorge Luna who have scored nine goals each or two thirds of their teams goals. Whilst we romantics would be hoping for a Wanderers triumph being three points back will make it hard for the team from Valparaiso. Their run in is similar to that of Universidad de Chile in that they face Ñublense and Unión La Calera, but as mentioned above they face Universidad de Chile in the final round. It all makes for a riveting final three rounds.
The battle for continental action
Whilst the title race is down to three teams, the race to partake in the post-season liguilla for Copa Libertadores qualification is still a mathematical chance, but a highly unlikely one, even for Universidad de Concepción down in fourteenth position. With Colo Colo having already qualified for the Libertadores the positions required to qualify for the mini-tournament will depend on whether Universidad de Chile or Santiago Wanderers claim the title. Wanderers, even if they don’t claim the title are already assured of qualification for the liguilla, there are essentially three positions up for grabs and only three points separating Unión La Calera in fourth and Barnechea in tenth position. Outside the all important title race this battle is shaping as fascinating conclusion to the season and adds to the tension at the top of the table as three of those in contention, Barnechea, Ñublense and the aforementioned Unión La Calera as mentioned above will meet those in the battle for the title. It all sounds more confusing than a David Lynch plot but you couldn’t have scripted it better.
Relegation may not be happening for at least six months it will still be playing on the minds of a number of teams who sit towards on the bottom of the coeficiente de rendimiento table. As an aside for those not in the know the coeficiente de rendimiento table takes a team’s points from the last three seasons in the Primera Division and divides that by the number of games played. At the end of next year’s 2015 Clausura season the three teams at the bottom of this table will be relegated from the Primera Division.
At the time of writing the three teams in the relegation spots are San Marcos de Arica (1.071), Audax Italiano (1.083) and Cobreloa (1.104). Of those three teams San Marcos de Arica have the best chance to boost their coefficient as they will only have two seasons worth of points to take into account whilst everyone bar Barnechea (more on the them later) has that extra season of points. However that can also be a double-edged sword as any loss of points during the season sees the instantly plummet down the table.
The three teams in questions will need to have stellar Clausura season to avoid the drop, especially Cobreloa who are having a disastrous 2014 Apertura season sitting bottom of the table with only eight points to their name which is a massive fall from grace for this proud club. However there are a number of other teams which will also be need to wary with a poor ending to this season and a poor start to next season could see them dragged into the relegation battle next season. Clubs that are in danger include Antofagasta, Cobresal, Unión La Calera and Huachipato.
What a difference two months makes
Two months ago, we were ready to condemn Barnechea to the Primera B, after a disastrous start to life in the Primera Division where they took only three points from their opening seven fixtures and the club was rife with internal problems. Seven matches later they now sit on nineteen points, having picked up an impressive sixteen points from the twenty-one on offer including impressive wins over Huachipato, Unión Española and Universidad Católica leaving them comfortably sitting mid-table. They will need to continue that fine form into the next season to avoid being dragged into the relegation battle.
In looks like once Esteban Paredes is in line to claim his second successive Golden Boot as he leads the goalscoring charts with twelve goals. Impressively Lucas Simon, who hasn’t played in the league since round seven after suffering a season ending knee injury, sits two goals back on a tally of ten. However, there a number of players sitting three goals back including Santiago Wanderers duo Roberto Gutierrez and Jorge Luna and Universidad de Chile’s Patricio Rubio, who appear to be the main threats to Paredes’ title.