Chivas certainly haven't made the opening weeks of the season any easier on themselves. The first two rounds of the Apertura 2011 season have been sandwiched between three high-profile friendlies in the United States against Real Madrid, Juventus, and Barcelona. Last Thursday, Chivas were in Raleigh, North Carolina for a match against Juventus. After Sunday's league match against Jaguares, the team will fly back to the U.S. for a match on Wednesday against global giants Barcelona.
It’s a tough way for Chivas to start the season considering both the extra games and increased time on the road. This weekend, Jaguares helped things out a bit by agreeing to move the Round 2 match -- originally scheduled for Saturday -- back a day to Sunday. It's a much-needed home match for Chivas, and also a date that marks the first anniversary of the Estadio Omnilife.
Last weekend, Chivas earned a great season-opening win on the road against Atlante. It was a perfect start to the Apertura, and a big change from last season when the team’s first win didn't come until Round 4. It was also the first ever victory by Chivas over Atlante in Cancun. If Chivas want to earn all three points against Jaguares on Sunday, they will again need to go against recent history. Over the last five seasons, Jaguares have outscored Chivas by a 10-1 margin, and won four of the five matches between the teams. In fact, Chivas haven't even scored a goal against Jaguares since all the way back in the Apertura 2009 season.
Key to Jaguares earning another result will be the Colombian attacking trio of Jackson Martinez, Luis Gabriel Rey, and Franco Arizala. Last season, Jaguares were the second-lowest scoring team in the league, but with Martinez back from injury, and the additions of Rey and Arizala, things were supposed to turn around. In the opener against Monterrey, Jaguares created several good scoring chances but just couldn’t find a way to finish (their only goal coming off a penalty). For Jaguares to keep up their recent win streak against Chivas, the three Colombians will have to make the most of every chance in front of goal.
To be fair to Jaguares, their 4-1 loss to Monterrey last weekend wasn’t quite as bad as the scoreline indicates (although to be equally fair to Monterrey, the Rayados were without Humberto Suazo and Aldo de Nigris). The first two Monterrey goals came via penalties, while the last two came after the 90th minute. Even still, the Jaguares defense will have to do better. Alberto Medina looked good on the wing for Chivas last week, and Marco Fabian and Omar Arellano are always tough up front.
For their part, Chivas will need to avoid any major mistakes on the backline. In Thursday’s friendly it was a slip from Jonny Magallon that gifted Juventus their only goal. Magallon returned from injury only a week ago, and has been moved into an unfamiliar role in central defense the last two matches to replace the injured and suspended Hector Reynoso. Whoever starts on the backline for Chivas this weekend, the unit can’t afford to gift any chances to Martinez or the rest of the talented group of Jaguares up front.
Can Jaguares keep their recent streak of dominance over Chivas alive? The Chivas vs. Jaguares match can be seen live in the U.S. on Sunday at 6pm ET on Telemundo.