Union La Calera hosts Atletico-MG in the first leg of South American Copa Sudamericana 1/16 finals. The match will be played on Wednesday, May 22nd at Estadio Municipal Nicolás Chahuán (La Calera)
The 5 epochal years of Union La Calera in the Chilean Primera Division ended in a flight to Primera B. However, having safely returned back in a season, in 2017, Union took the 6th place in the Chilean elite and received a ticket to Sudamericana.
Brazilian Chapecoense became the first rival of La Calera in the cup. The first and home game of the Chileans became their debut in the new season. After a goalless draw at Nicolas Chahuan, the match in Brazil crowned with a progress to the next round for La Calera. The defense of Verdao was off guard and missed a low cross after a corner kick, which became the away goal. The toothless attack of Chape managed to score only 1 goal, provided that the visitors had played in the minority for half of the match after the red card of wingback Figueroa.
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The start of Union in the Primera can be called decent, but the unbeaten streak of 7 games (3-4-0) was broken by 2 defeats in a row. At first, La Calera lost the away match with Deportes Iquique (1:0) and the last home game with Union Espanola (1:2). Argentinean Meneghini, the coach of the Chileans, does not highlight the priority between the local championship and Suda. Only center forward Larrondo and winger Isnaldo will be fresh in the upcoming match. In the flank, Wiemberg will replace the disqualified Figueroa; however, this installation is unlikely to make the home defense invincible. The second Brazilian rival of Union will be much more decent and more skillful than the first one. I see the revaluation of the odds in the line.
Union may well rely on the help of the home arena. La Calera is 9 points behind the leading Universidad Catolica, but it is the best home team in the Chilean championship. In the seven rounds played at Chahuan, the men of Meneghini earned 16 points; the total score was 13: 6. Obviously, the very first match of the season should not be taken into account. Chileans will try to earn an advantage at home, knowing that Atletico Mineiro is stronger than Chapecoense in all respects. I count on the home team’s goal, but only on it.
Everybody forgot about the failure of the coach Culpi in Minas. It is not very comforting, but the elimination of Galo from Copa Libertadores was sugar-covered by the 3rd group line and the entry into the second stage of Sudamericana. The coach of the junior team, Santana and his men won the last away match of Copa Libertadores group. They beat Venezuelan Zamora (1: 2). It is difficult to say what priority the ambitious Galo has now, but cash cup bonuses are valuable for any Brazilian club.
Atletico's start in Serie A was good. Although Galo’s opponents were not the strongest, but after the home victory over Avai (2:1), Alvinegros won two away games with Vasco and Ceara (also, both 1:2). Having tied a goalless draw with Santos in the Brazilian Cup, Galo left itself not in the best position before the return match, and it also lost at home to Palmeiras (0:2). It is gratifying that the team of Santana has returned to victory, and the Roosters should be praised for their intensity. After the exchange of goals with a powerful Flamengo, the referee sent defender Elias off in the 45th minute at Mineirao. Galo scratched out a victory with ten men and went up in Serie A to the second place.
In the match in Chile, Santana is counting to gain a positive result rather easily, because, between the paired matches with Union, Galo will go on a visit to Gremio. Elias will be fresh, but the regular goalkeeper Victor, midfielders Welison, Luan, Cazares and center forward Oliveira did not even get into the Chilean roster. Santana has problems with injuries of the defenders Santos and Rever, so the Galo’s defensive line will be experimental. However, the attack with Nathan, Vinicius, Charra and Alerrandro must be effective against Chileans. The latter scored a double in Venezuela, so the choice of Santana is reasonable and resembles the rotation in the last group match of Liba. Alas for the pessimists of Galo, but the rotated team of the young coach performed better than the regular one in the continental competition.
The defense of Atletico was not the standard of reliability in any of its variations and isn’t such one now. In the CL group, Mineiro conceded in all away matches: from Cerro, Nacional and Zamora. Galo also conceded in all away matches of Brasileiro, but the new coach managed to achieve 100% of the result in the last three games. The hosts of the meeting will try to gain an advantage before the game at Mineirao. However, Atletico, which is superior to Union in terms of quality, perfectly appreciates its own strength concerning the local championship. The bitter experience of ex-coach Larga should become an example for Santana, who can get a ticket to Liba for the next season, following the path of Núñez and his Atletico Paranaense. Having a clear strategy of searching results on two fronts, Galo is capable of not losing in Chile. I see this meeting to be scoring, with the exchange of goals, and a combo with a double chance for the visitors is estimated very bold.
Prediction for the match: Atletico-MG to win with +0.5 handicap and Both teams to score - yes