So my first week of being a Universidad de Chile fan is over and here is my week…
DEPORTES TEMUCO 0-1 UNIVERSIDAD DE CHILE (COPA CHILE) – 21/7/2013
UNIVERSIDAD DE CHILE 2-2 ÑUBLENSE (COPA CHILE) – 25/7/2013
UNIVERSIDAD DE CHILE 0-1 RANGERS (PRIMERA DIVISION) – 28/7/2013 (REPORT)
A mixed bag of results for Universidad de Chile this week with a win, draw and defeat. However, overall this has not been a good week for the team with elimination at the group stage of the Copa Chile (in a group they should easily have advanced out of) and an opening day defeat at home.
This week has been a learning week for me. I have had to quickly learn all of the players in the squad, how Universidad play and how to distinguish each player on the pitch but, I have to admit, that Universidad have had me hooked immediately.
There are so many things that I already love about Universidad de Chile but the main one is the style of play that Figueroa gets the team to play. He plays with a nod to Marcelo Bielsa (who has really inspired a specific style of play in Argentina), with 3 at the back, high energy pressing and pretty passing. This was especially clear against Rangers in the league, where the team played countless passes and showed some creativity but just could not break down the Rangers defence. In many ways, they reminded me of Barcelona with the pass, pass, pass mentality and high pressing to win the ball back. Unfortunately, Universidad doesn’t have a Messi to break the deadlock when they’re struggling.
I have already been drawn to a couple of players as personal favourites of mine with the main one being the excellent playmaker Charles Aránguiz. He is a small and clever midfielder who, in the games I saw, showed a real eye for a pass. He also can really strike a ball as well and finds little pockets of space. I really liked what I saw from him as I did from Luciano Civelli, Rubén Farfán and Ramon Fernandéz. Civelli is a tall, hard working winger, who actually is a former Ipswich Town player (that was a shock to me), who might look all leg but is very good on the ball. Farfán is also a winger but he is more of a small pest of a player and really makes the defenders think. Fernandéz is a similar type of player to Aránguiz as he is comfortable on the ball and seems to be the set piece taker for the side.
However, it has not all been smiles and love. Of course, the loss to Rangers was heartbreaking considering that Rangers had no attacking intent, Universidad had so many chances and the goal was so late on. I think though that the defeat also highlighted a couple of major issues – can’t defend and can’t finish. Isaac Díaz looks like a good striker but he had two good chances that he should have finished but he inexplicably missed them both. And it wasn’t just Díaz but the rest of the team just could not put the ball in the net. It’s all fine and well creating 20 chances in a game but you need to take at least 2 of them. But, more shocking was the defending which was not a pretty sight. Ezequiel Videla looks like a solid defensive player but he is a midfielder and not a defender and his missed header leading to the Rangers goal is a real indication of that. Perhaps most importantly, it is only 1 win in competitive matches this season which for a club like Universidad de Chile is not acceptable.
Overall, I have really enjoyed this first week despite the disappointing results. It is a new and exciting style of football to watch and you can see some fine talents. Players like Aránguiz and Farfán are what make watching leagues like the Primera Division worth it.
WEEK 2 PREVIEW
Universidad de Chile will be looking to bounce back from their poor start to the season in their 2 games this upcoming week. First, they face a difficult away trip to face Real Potosí in the first leg of their Copa Sudamericana qualifier. La U will be looking to try and recreate their victory from 2 years ago in the competition with a win in Bolivia. They then return to league action and face an away trip to Palestino. Palestino have started their league campaign well with a 2-0 victory at Everton in their opening match.
I hope you enjoyed this summary of my first week watching Chilean football and if you did then please feel free to leave feedback here or over on Twitter (details down the right hand side).
Check back next Sunday for the Week 2 summary of The Chilean Experience.