SAMPAOLI QUIERE HACER HISTORIA

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«En lo personal valorizo mucho la entrega de este grupo que le ha dado tantas alegrías a este club. Es algo conmovedor, es difícil redondear este momento con palabras», decía Jorge Sampaoli tras lograr su mayor éxito personal, y algo inédito en la historia de Universidad de Chile: alcanzar el tricampeonato.

El entrenador argentino arribó al club sin haberse coronado campeón nunca antes. Había dirigido mucho tiempo en Perú, y también tuvo un paso por Emelec de Ecuador, pero lo que motivó a la dirigencia de «La U» a apostar por sus servicios, fue el buen trabajo al frente de O’ Higgins, donde se caracterizó por un fútbol agresivo comparado al de Marcelo Bielsa, uno de los referentes de Sampaoli.

El Torneo Apertura 2011 acabó con la Universidad de Chile en puestos de clasificación a playoffs. En aquella instancia, su equipo venció a Unión San Felipe y O’Higgins, antes de llegar a la final ante Universidad Católica, en lo que sería un Clásico Universitario más que importante. El partido de ida fue ventaja para la Católica, por 2-0. Resultado favorable pero insuficiente para enterrar a Sampaolia y cía, que partido a partido habían mostrado signos de carácter y fuerte personalidad, con un juego que cada vez encontraba más recursos y puntos fuertes. Cabe destacar que ambos partidos se disputaron en el Estadio Nacional, y que en la revancha, «la U» hacía las veces de visitante. Sin embargo, se dio el «milagro», y con una actuación formidable del delantero argentino Gustavo Canales -y un autogol de Juan Eluchans- los de Sampaoli se impusieron por 4-1 y volvieron a gritar campeón tras 2 años de sequía. El entrenador argentino sumaba su primera corona en el primer año al frente del equipo. Nada mal para empezar…

Pero el semestre siguiente sería todavía mejor: un arranque del Clausura con 9 triunfos consecutivos ponían a los azules en una posición inmejorable para ir otra vez por el titulo. El peligro, o la preocupación, se instalaba en otro punto positivo: el buen andar en la Copa Sudamericana 2011. Las fases fueron pasando, y en el camino quedaron Fénix y Nacional de Uruguay, Flamengo, Arsenal de Sarandí y Vasco da Gama, todos ellos con una particularidad, ninguno pudo vencer al poderoso equipo de Sampaoli en siquiera un encuentro. La final fue ante Liga de Quito, ya un habitué en las fases finales de los certamenes continentales. En el banco de suplentes ecuatoriano, otro argentino, Edgardo Bauza. En la altura, y contra todo pronóstico, el conjunto azul se impuso con gol de su estrella, Eduardo Vargas, máximo artillero del certamen con 11 gritos. En la revancha, y con un Estadio Nacional repleto (47.000 espectadores), no hubo margen a la equivocación: Vargas (x2) y Lorenzetti sellaron el 3-0 que otorgó a Universidad de Chile su primer trofeo a nivel continental. ¿Conformidad? No existió. Nada de relajación, mucho de competitividad, compromiso e intensidad. Esas fueron las claves para que el equipo también haya seguido firme en el Clausura y lo demuestre quedándose con el 1° lugar por 8 puntos de diferencia, y coronándose campeón tras superar en las finales a Cobreloa.

Tres títulos en un año, algo que la Universidad de Chile no había logrado hasta la llegada de Jorge Sampaoli, y con el agregado de que las formas de juego gustaron al país y gran parte de Sudamérica.

El arquero Johnny Herrera, Matías Rodríguez (argentino), José Rojas, Charles Aránguiz, Felipe Seymour, Guillermo Marino, Gustavo Canales y Diego Rivarola, fueron algunas de las figuras de un equipo que estaba cada vez más consolidado. Sin embargo, la figura por excelencia, Eduardo Vargas, se fue al Nápoli a cambio de más de 13 millones de dólares. La baja, como era de esperar, se sintió en el 11 azul, pero eso no impidió que el equipo alcance las semifinales de la Copa Libertadores (cayó a manos de Boca Juniors), ni que logre, otra vez, coronarse campeón del Apertura 2012, tras superar por penales a O’Higgins.

La única decepción del ciclo de Sampaoli en Universidad de Chile, fue el hecho de caer en Japón ante el Kashima Antlers, en el marco de la Copa Suruga Bank. No obstante, aquello estuvo lejos de opacar los titulos conseguidos, y la gran imagen que dejó el equipo, desplegando un fútbol ofensivo durante más de dos años, en cualquier cancha y ante cualquier rival. El exitoso proceso en «la U», catalogó al entrenador argentino como el reemplazante ideal de Marcelo Bielsa en la conducción técnica de la Selección de Chile, en lo que significó la continuidad de un estilo de juego que llegó hasta Octavos de Final del Mundial de Brasil 2014 dejando en el camino al último campeón del mundo, España.

La Copa América 2015 se disputa en suelo chileno, y los locales ya están en semifinales. Es la oportunidad única para romper el maleficio y levantar el trofeo por primera vez en su historia. Sampaoli, con varios de los jugadores que dirigió en su paso por Universidad de Chile, busca seguir haciendo historia. De títulos y hazañas, algo sabe.

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1994. Si no rueda una pelota me siento incompleto. Cuando sea grande diré que vi jugar a Messi. Disfruto de leer y escribir.

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