Can Universidad de Chile Rescue a Catastrophically Bad Season?

SANTIAGO – With only six matches to play things do not look good for Universidad de Chile. They sit at the bottom of League 1. Is relegation to League 2 imminent for this giant of Chilean football? 

It has been a season to forget for Universidad de Chile. They lie in position 15, one place off the bottom of League 1, and have won only three games so far. Their troubles stem from their inability to convert draws into wins, as demonstrated by the accumulation of 12 draws for the season and by far the most of any team in the league.

A painful and dramatic winner in the 94th minute for Colo-Colo also consigned U. de Chile to their eighth defeat of the season last weekend. It was an important result for Colo-Colo who are fighting an impressive Palestino team for the second spot in the league and the glory of automatic qualification to next year’s Copa Libertadores.

The first place in the league was virtually decided weeks ago, as there has not been a real challenger to Universidad de Católica for the whole season, and they will win the league again easily. Below position 3, currently held by Palestino, there are any of about seven or eight teams competing for the Copa Sudamericana group stage positions. 

Hard to Escape Relagation

But for Universidad de Chile it is difficult to see how they can escape their predicament. They just cannot pick up the wins they need: 3 points out of a possible 15 has seen the team slump below Deportes Iquique and Antofagasta, the latter whose form has seen a drastic improvement recently. U. de Chile will be hoping that Curicó Unido’s dire form continues as they have only managed to accrue 1 point out of the last possible 15. 

Relegation to League 2 would be a major embarrassment for a club that has won the top title 18 times, but it is not the first time that they have sunk to League 2. The team’s last (and only) relegation from League 1 came in 1988, but was swiftly followed by a League 2 winning performance and a welcome return to the top flight where they have remained ever since.

U. de Chile next play in the league at home (Estádio Nacional) against Deportes Iquique on Oct. 17. Win, and the two teams will switch positions, lifting la U. out of the relegation zone on goal difference. Lose, and Deportes Iquique open a 6-point gap which might soon become unfillable. It is going to be a very nervous few weeks for U. de Chile fans.    

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