No other game in Chilean football can match the fervour and expectation of a Colo Colo-Universidad de Chile derby.

Such is the antipathy between the Santiago clubs that even when the football is not of its usual high standard, the fixture is elevated by the sheer commitment and will-to-win of both sides. As you would expect in a derby of this importance, fans, not just from the respective clubs, but from right across the country take sides and roar on their favourites. 

On Sunday at the capital's Estadio Monumental, Colo Colo played host to arch rivals Universidad de Chile in what promises to be a thriller. The hosts come into the game in a rich vein of form and strengthened their grip on a place in the play-offs with a 4-2 win courtesy of goals from Humberto Suazo (2), Alexis Sanchez and Alvaro Ormeno, with Marcelo Salas and Luis Figueroa replying for the under-pressure visitors.

 

Colo Colo had received a further boost in the week running up to the game by securing their berth in the semi-final of the Copa Sudamericana - another sore point with visiting fans - although history has repeatedly shown that the form book is of limited use in predicting classic derbies.   If you know the history
El Club Social y Deportivo Colo-Colo was founded on 19 April 1925 after Chilean international David Arellano and a group of players decided to sever ties with Club Magallanes, having fallen out with some of the older members.

The new club decided to name themselves after the famous Mupuche Indian chief who fought with great bravery and intelligence against the Spanish in the 16th century. White was chosen for the club's shirts as a symbol of purity, with the black shorts intended as a mark of seriousness.

Just over two years later, on 24 May 1927, El Club Deportivo Universitario came into existence after three sports clubs, Nautico Universitario, Internado FC and Universitario de Atletismo y Federacion Universitaria, joined forces.

The new club chose a chuncho (a species of owl) as its badge in order to symbolise wisdom and spiritual harmony. It was only in 1937 that they changed their name to Club Deportivo Universidad de Chile following a decision by students of the rival Universidad Catolica, who hitherto played their football with Club Universitario, to go their separate way and start their own university side.

The birth of a rivalry
The first meeting between the sides ended in a somewhat predictable 6-0 win for the experienced Caciques over a fledgling Universidad de Chile side on 7 August 1938.

That emphatic win, which still remains the biggest in games between the pair, gave no hint of the extraordinary rivalry that was to ensue. La U's first tasted victory in the derby with a 2-1 win in 1939, though it would be another six years before they would repeat the feat, also with a 2-1 scoreline.

As legend has it, the enmity that exists today had its roots in a Metropolitan league clash between the sides on 12 May 1940. During the course of the game, which the Caciques won 1-0, Colo Colo's Alfonso Dominguez landed a punch on Jose Balbuena in retaliation for a particularly nasty foul by the Universidad de Chile player.

Over the years the derby has thrown up a host of other interesting facts and figures. The most goals the Chunchos ever scored against the old enemy were six, in a thumping win in 1962 (6-3), although their most emphatic victory was their 4-0 triumph in 2004. The university side can also boast the derby's top-scorer in Carlos Campos (12 goals), who managed one more than Colo Colo's Manuel Munoz (11). The largest official attendance for a meeting between the sides came in 1986, when 77,848 flocked to the Estadio Nacional to witness a 1-1 draw. 

Who is Chile?
"Who is Chile? Colo Colo! Who is Colo Colo? Chile!" sing the fiercely proud fans of Los Albos. And when it comes to silverware, they are undisputedly the country's top side.

Not only have Colo Colo won the most league championships (24), they are also the only Chilean club to have lifted South America's Copa Libertadores (1991). They are also the biggest points winner in league history, ahead of Universidad de Chile, who have won 'a mere' 12 league titles to date.

In addition, Colo Colo hold a clear advantage in the teams' head-to-head record: in 156 games played, the Cacique have 67 wins (265 goals) against 43 for the Chunchos (201), with another 46 ties finishing all square. However, since La U returned to the first division in 1992, they have redressed the balance somewhat, winning 16 of the 39 games played to their rival's 12.

In fact, the first derby played after their return to the top flight, a 2-0 for Universidad de Chile on 12 July 1992, is also relevant to Sunday's tie. The villain of the piece that day for Colo Colo was their current coach Claudio Borghi, the Argentine having missing the chance to score from the spot.

As any of the country's footballers will attest, the big Santiago derby is the game in Chile. A case in point is the great Ivan Zamorano. Despite taking part in such classic duels as Real Madrid-Barcelona in Spain, Inter-AC Milan in Italy, and America-Chivas in Mexico, the retired striker insists: "Of all the derbies I've played in my life, Colo Colo-Universidad de Chile is by far the most important."