Following an unexpected start to the campaign, Chivas are now set to make their Apertura ‘16 home debut versus Monterrey on Saturday night. The game will not only be the first game of the season at Estadio Chivas, but it will also be the first game of the season that will be televised in Mexico on ChivasTV. El Rebaño will look to bounce back from a tough loss to Pumas but will have a difficult task as last year’s title runner-up will also be looking for their first victory. Monterrey, for their part, drew to a 1-1 tie with visiting Puebla and lost Colombian midfielder Edwin Cardona to a one-game suspension along the way. Certainly not the start either team had hoped for, but with both teams looking for a victory, this Week 2 match up will be a must watch.
Ahead of Chivas’ Week 2 match up, Almeyda has many questions to answer if he is going to get this team rolling again. Much of what plagued Chivas last season is what plagued them again Week 1 against Pumas: a lack of goal scoring. Almeyda needs to find a formula up top that’s going to put goals in the net. Part of what will help with this would be for Almeyda to field some of the reinforcements he asked for in the offseason. Starting a player like Jose Juan “Gallito” Vazquez at defensive midfielder will allow him more flexibility in the attacking half of the lineup. While Carlos Salcido has done an adequate job, Almeyda’s herd could benefit from Gallito’s youthfulness and talent. This would allow for Orbelin to play a much more attacking role alongside Gulit Peña.
Another big question for this week’s matchup is which “Gullit” Peña will we see on the pitch. As I mentioned in my Post Game Observations article earlier this week, for the latter part of last season and in last week’s loss, his game has been in decline. If Almeyda is going to continue to field him as the team’s centerpiece in the offense, his contributions need to be a lot larger—primarily his work rate and passing need to improve.
This will also be the last week Chivas has their U-23 national team players before they are to report to training camp for Rio 2016. Almeyda must take advantage of having a complete team and field the strongest roster possible versus a weakened Monterrey side.
Not only will Monterrey be without Edwin Cardona, due to the red he received in Week 1, they will also be without Dorlan Pabon and Rogelio Funis Mori. Pabon has already been called up to the Colombian U-23 National Team and Funes Mori, who had a meniscus operation before the season started, had limited action Week 1, and coach Antonio Mohamed has already stated that he will be on the bench Week 2. While being without three of their top players is definitely cause for concern, Monterrey is a deep team top to bottom with bench players the likes of ex-Chivas Aldo De Nigris, Luis Ernesto Perez, and the speedster Yimmi Charra. Last year’s Super Lider is thirsty for their first victory and will prove to be a dangerous side versus a Chivas team that struggles to score
Both teams enter the match with a lot of pressure, but I would have to say Chivas definitely has a lot more. It is not only their historical background, which dictates that they should always be a contender and must win their games, the team is now taking on a new endeavor, ChivasTV, something that has never been done before in Mexico. If the team wants subscriptions to keep rising, there must be results on the field. With each team looking to right the ship, expect the Week 2 encounter to be the most attractive encounter of the weekend.
Monterrey vs. Chivas – March 20, 2016 – Liga MX
Chivas defeated Monterrey 3-1, handing Rayados their first and only home loss of the season.