Match: Cruz Azul vs. Club América (Clásico Joven)
Date: Thursday, November 23rd (Thanksgiving Night)
Time: 8:30 PM Eastern, 7:30 PM Central, 5:30 PM Pacific, 1:30 AM UTC
Venue: Estadio Azul (Ciudad de México)
Despite neither team playing their best fútbol in recent weeks, the matchup between two of Mexico City’s grandes Cruz Azul and Club América is undoubtedly the highlight of the 2017 Apertura Liguilla quarterfinals. This matchup holds a particular significance for la Maquina who could be playing not only their last Clásico Joven, but also their very last match inside of Estadio Azul.
Paco Jemez and Cruz Azul could not have asked for a tougher first round opponent than arch rivals Club América after qualifying for their first liguilla in three years. As if facing their arch rivals in the post season wasn't difficult enough, fans of la Maquina will be expecting nothing less than a victory in what could be their last ever match inside of the historic Estadio Azul. However, a postseason victory over their arch rivals will be easier said than done. Since 2013, la Maquina has only managed to defeat Club América a total of 3 times.
Club América and head coach Miguel Herrera will be looking to extend their run of recent dominance over their crosstown rivals. In order to do so, however, las Águilas will have to greatly improve on their recent form. In their last five matches, Club América has only managed to secure two positive results; a penalty shootout victory over Queretaro in Copa MX and a 1-0 victory over an already eliminated Santos squad in the last match of the regular season. Scoring has been a real issue for las Águilas over this same five game stretch with the team only managing to net a mere 3 goals.
The lack of goalscoring and offensive cohesion exhibited by Club América over the last five matches could pose quite a problem for the team over the course of the two quarterfinal games. This season, Cruz Azul has been characterized by their ability to shut down opposing teams offensively. In fact, teams have only managed to score multiple goals on Cruz Azul four times during the regular season.
Despite their lackluster performances over the past five matches, Club América will come into this quarterfinal matchup as the favorite to advance to the next round. However, it is impossible to truly consider Cruz Azul as an inferior team to their cross town rivals. This is especially true considering the historical significance surrounding the first leg match at Estadio Azul. La Maquina will be looking to do everything in their power to prevent the last Clásico Joven and possible last home match in their historic stadium from being a defeat. Expect Cruz Azul to come out with an intensity and energy unlike anything that the team has exhibited this season. It will be up to las Águilas to match this intensity if they want to have any hopes of continuing their quest for historic title number 13 past the quarterfinals.