Colo-Colo win Superclasico de Chile, more South America soccer news

(Photo by Esteban Garay/Getty Images)
(Photo by Esteban Garay/Getty Images) /

Colo-Colo took down Universidad de Chile in the biggest rivalry to take place this weekend. Let’s wrap up the soccer news from South America this weekend.

Unlike in Europe, where all the domestic seasons start within a few weeks of one another, the calendar in South America is a hodgepodge of different starts and fixtures. As the national league in Brazil ramps up the back half of its season, the action further south in Argentina is only just getting started.

It makes for an interesting cycle of following the sport in the Southern Hemisphere. As one of the main feeders of talent to Europe, these leagues are worth following just to see up-and-coming talents on their home soil before making the transition overseas. Beyond that, though, they provide a different pace of soccer that is beautiful in its own right.

This week the last remaining undefeated and untied team in Argentine play remained perfect on Sunday with a third straight victory. Also on Sunday, the leader in Brazil’s Serie A pulled further ahead, as both of the closest teams in the table sustained draws. And Colo-Colo won the Superclasico de Chile over Universidad de Chile on Saturday.

Let’s look at those stories a bit closer, beginning with the the derby from Chile. Here is the wrap-up of this week’s action from around South America.

Colo-Colo conquers Superclasico de Chile over Universidad de Chile

Rivalries are one of the most fun aspects of soccer. They’re a universally understood concept, most often a function of proximity and divergent ideologies. These derby matches abound across the globe, and South America is certainly no exception.

On the same weekend when MLS was celebrating its Rivalry Week, Colo-Colo and Universidad de Chile met for the 231st time in history. The rivalry between these two sides from Santiago de Chile began back in 1938, when Colo-Colo secured a 6-0 victory over Universidad.

In this edition, there was nowhere near as much scoring as that first showdown 80 years earlier. Colo-Colo still dominated play as they did in that inaugural encounter, holding 65 percent of the possession and generating 13 attempts on goal to just two by Universidad de Chile. Playing at Colo-Colo’s Estadio Monumental, the hosts prevented their visitors from getting a single shot on target.

Juan Manuel Insaurralde broke through with a 65th-minute goal, giving Colo-Colo all the scoring they would need to walk away with the full three points. It was a chippy affair all around, as the two teams combined for 40 fouls, nine yellow cards, and a late red card to Universidad de Chile’s Sebastian Ubilla.

In the process, Colo-Colo leapfrogged over Universidad into fifth place in the Primera División de Chile standings. Universidad now sits one point behind in sixth place. Both clubs are still eight and nine points respectively behind league leaders Universidad Católica, which drew 0-0 against Audax Italiano on Sunday.

Rosario Central remain perfect in Superliga Argentina

Few expected when the season began in Argentina that Rosario Central would lead the table free and clear by two points early in the campaign. Of course, the vagaries of small sample sizes will skew the storyline toward a random contender often in such situations. But the way Rosario Central have played through their first three games of the Superliga season, they appear to be a legitimate challenger to the big clubs in the greater Buenos Aires metropolitan area.

Edgardo Bauza’s club have put together three straight clean sheets. In the opener, they held Banfield to just five scoring chances, none of which went on goal. In the first match away from Rosario, the Canallas took down Talleres de Cordoba despite the hosts having the bulk of the possession and more than a dozen scoring chances.

Now, after returning to El Gigante de Arroyito for another home match against San Martín Tucumán this weekend, Rosario Central has gone 270 minutes without allowing a goal to start the new year. Central conceded just one shot that actually got through to Jeremías Ledesma. The 25-year-old goalkeeper has only had to stop three shots so far this season, thanks to a defense that has forced opponents into plenty of obstructed and otherwise bad looks.

Rosario Central will eventually drop a match this season. The Superliga is a battle of attrition that even the most well-funded clubs cannot manage to get through completely unscathed. At this point Racing Club is the only club besides Central to tally seven of a possible nine points. Pending the results of Monday matches, Union and Godoy Cruz could join the Avellaneda giants.

At the moment, though, the pole position in the table belongs not to one of the quintet of major clubs in the greater metropolitan area of the capital city. Next weekend Rosario Central travel to Avellaneda to face Racing Club at El Cilindro. A win on the road would put the leaders even further ahead, building a buffer as they try to win the club’s first title in decades.

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Sao Paulo open up lead in Brazil’s Serie A table

In Brazil, the season is already into the second half of the campaign. That makes the chase for top spots in the table more interesting at this point, as we have a far larger sample size to help determine where teams fall in the hierarchy.

For much of the season, Sao Paulo have been on track to claim their first Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A title in a decade. The Tricolor last won in 2008, wrapping up a run of three consecutive championship seasons. They have come close to returning to the pinnacle on several occasions, but this is the best chance for São Paulo to break back through.

The league leaders knocked off Ceara yesterday, scoring a 78th-minute winner by Bruno Peres that was soon followed by a red card to Ceará defender Leandro Carvalho. Sao Paulo took 19 shots, putting four on goal, and they attempted 120 more passes than their opponents. Other than on the scoreboard, Sao Paulo dominated Ceara in pretty much every other statistical category.

The leaders also benefitted from a few surprise results elsewhere around Brazil. Internacional drew 0-0 at home against Palmeiras. Flamengo lost Gustavo Cuéllar to a red card in the 65th minute against America, then conceded a late equalizer as they were forced to take just a point out of the encounter on the road in Minas Gerais.

As a result of the various final scores, Sao Paulo now sit three points clear of Internacional and four points clear of Flamengo after 21 matchdays. There are still 17 matches to play, but at this point Sao Paulo increasingly look like a champion in the making.