After much deliberation the winners of the 2011 viva la roja mierda end of year awards have finally been decided with Universidad de Chile capping off an impressive years by dominating the award winners.
Best team – Universidad de Chile
Winning both Apertura and Clausura tournaments as well picking up their first ever continental title in the form of the Copa Sudamericana means that Universidad de Chile are a shoe-in for team of the year. Playing a brand of football that had the whole of South America talking, los azules went on a thirty-six game undefeated run during their Clausura and Copa Sudamericana campaigns with the highlight being a 4-0 demolition of Flamengo in Rio de Janeiro. Whether they can repeat their feats come next year in the Copa Libertadores has everyone talking.
Best Chilean based player – Eduardo Vargas
Best overseas based player – Alexis Sánchez
There was some stiff competition in this category with both Arturo Vidal and Mauricio Isla putting forward a good case but in the end it was hard to look past el nino maravilla, Alexis Sánchez. Coming of a stellar season with Udinese where he helped them qualify for the Champions League, Sánchez then got his dream move to Barcelona in July following an indifferent Copa America where he scored one goal in Chile’s four matches. Whilst an early season thigh injury curtailed his chances early in the season, Sánchez has managed five goals in eight games for his new club including a goal in el clásico.
Best young player – Francisco Castro
Seeing as Eduardo Vargas is only twenty-two years old he could well have taken this award as well but in the spirit of fairness we will give this award to his team-mate Francisco Castro, who is only twenty-one years old. Castro, who like fellow award winners Vargas and Alexis Sánchez came from Cobreloa, spent most of the year living in the shadow of the aforementioned Vargas but when given the opportunity he grabbed it with both hands. Castro, made twenty-six appearances throughout the year in the league and eleven appearances in his club’s successful Copa Sudamericana campaign. He also managed to score his first goals for the club, scoring in the Copa Chile against Unión San Felipe. This kicked off an impressive run where he scored eight goals in the Clausura and one in the Copa Sudamericana. With Vargas departing for Napoli in the off season much will be expected from Castro in 2012.
Best manager – Jorge Sampaoli
With Universidad de Chile dominating all that came before them in 2011, it was really a no contest when it came to deciding who should be manager of the year. Jorge Sampaoli, very much a disciple of fellow Argentinean Marcelo Bielsa had La U playing a style of game that Rupert Fryer described as high-pressing, high-tempo, high-energy and high-pretty-much-everything. Their style of play was joy to watch scoring goals a-plenty but also were miserly in defence only conceding two in the successful Copa Sudamericana campaign. Already touted as a possible replacement for Claudio Borghi, Sampaoli wasn’t afraid to mix it up tactically and in this aspect in our eyes is superior to both the current and former managers of the national team. The only thing questionable about Sampaoli is his sense of fashion (see above).