2017 has brought us plenty of transfers and new storylines to follow around Liga MX. Chivas, in particular, looks to rebound from an ambitious 2016 that wound up with back-to-back eliminations at the hands of their ultimate rival America in the 2016 Clausura and Apertura. Consistently qualifying for la Liguilla is a reassuring sign that Matías Almeyda and company have a winner developing in Guadalajara. However, getting dumped in the first round of these stages will simply not cut it.
With that said, El Rebaño has made some movement in the off-season in hopes of upgrading their side. Here are a few notes worth keeping an eye on as the tournament progresses.
The importance of Rodolfo Pizarro’s arrival
The fact that Chivas has been after Pachuca’s “joyas” is no secret. It’s now known that Rodolfo Pizarro is the one to make the move, but how he will fit in is anyone’s guess. Matías Almeyda’s side already fields plenty of young, exciting talent, so it will be interesting to see how he plays Pizarro. While Pizarro certainly bolsters the midfield on paper, the development that has many holding their breath is what the potential midfield combination of Pizarro and Orbelín Pineda might bring.
The season rests on the boots of Alan Pulido
Alan Pulido entered the squad last season tasked with helping augment what was an anemic scoring offense. While he did have his moments in the 2016 Apertura, Pulido will have to maximize his goal-scoring potential in order for his side to improve in the 2017 Clausura. When he’s not clutch, he’ll have to be influential, making space or drawing defenders to allow his teammates better scoring opportunities. It’s a lot to ask for from one man, but it fits the bill of a true scorer of his caliber.
Consistency is the name of the game
Young and exciting are words that many would use to describe much of El Rebaño’s roster. The problem with a lot of young talent is consistency. However, the club has arrived at the point where most players have a good year of consistent starts under their belt. It’s now time to see where that year of experience takes the form of these players. There have been instances of brilliance in 2016, but those have been followed up with somber exits in la Liguilla. Keep an eye on whether Chivas brings thunder or drizzle when the Liguilla rolls around: they’ll have to be in form when it matters to take Liga MX.
The game to watch
Mark your calendars for what looks to be the barometer for Chivas in the 2017 Clausura: March 11th at the Estadio Universitario against Tigres. Not only is this a gut-check against the defending champions, but it is a true test of how well Chivas will do in la Liguilla. Ricardo “Tuca” Ferretti plays a stingy, defensive scheme where his side seeks to eek out wins; Chivas has struggled to put the ball in the back of the net. If a visiting Chivas manages to overpower Tigres and gain three points at that stage of the tournament, their stock will be at a high point seldom seen in recent years.