The 2017 Clausura has Chivas deservedly sitting in fourth place on the league table. While the play style on the pitch has been attractive, Matías Almeyda and company have been frustrated with some results and their ability to capitalize. While much too early to begin to think about Liguilla placement, Chivas’ play has them in the middle of the table—similar to recent tournaments. El Rebaño has a golden opportunity to make a statement to the rest of the league when the face their nemesis this Saturday night at the Estadio Chivas.
The same team that has eliminated them from their previous two Liguilla appearances currently walks—slowly—into Chivas’ home struggling. Ricardo La Volpe is starting to feel the pressure at Club America and a defeat could well mean an end to his reign at Coapa.
The good news for “El Bigoton” and his Aguilas is they have lost just one Clásico Nacional at the Estadio Chivas since its opening in 2010 and they will look to keep that stat alive when both teams meet again in what promises to be another exciting edition of the biggest rivalry game in Mexico.
Our game hinges on....
Carlos: Our game hinges on América’s defense. Chivas will be the team to come out the more aggressive in Guadalajara, while América plays La Volpe’s 5-3-2 system. This will allow Las Aguilas to hit Chivas where they are vulnerable, on the counter, a style of play América has found successful in the last couple fixtures in Estadio Chivas.
Enrique: The game will hinge on the forwards’ positioning. It’s no secret that Chivas has struggled to execute in front of goal this tournament. Whether Alan Pulido holds up play or ends up veering out onto the flank, he will often put in a cross that won’t find anyone in the box. The lack of timing and players in prime position to score when a cross is sent in has become too frequent an occurrence for Chivas. El Rebaño has to get this right to earn three points.
The biggest threat to our success
Carlos: There’s numerous variables against América’s success on Saturday. Arguably, the lack of capitalizing on each scoring opportunity for América’s front line will be the difference maker. América must come hungry for the winning goal on every chance they get and if they don’t, Chivas will make them pay.
Enrique: Set pieces can hurt the most. Chivas has had impressive build-up and can dominate possession. With that said, Almeyda’s men can see their efforts go to waste in an instant if they fall asleep on a set piece. With how this tournament has gone, Chivas scoring beautifully only to be leveled by a set piece would be the most “Chivas” thing to happen in this game.
Player's performance you are most looking forward to?
Carlos: With Cecilio Dominguez’ shoulder injury, the player to look out for is América’s Michael “Miky” Arroyo. He’s the one player America’s head coach, Ricardo La Volpe, had to sacrifice due to the 10/8 rule and now comes with a vengeance. He’s got everything to prove to La Volpe that he’s here to stay and should be in the game day roster, if not the starting XI.
Enrique: Thus far, Rodolfo Cota has been a steady hand in goal for Chivas. His ability to bring the ball out calmly and avoid gaffes that could have cost his team is priceless. In one of the most high profile games of the tournament, it’s worth watching whether or not his performance will allow him to avoid disaster.
You should watch the Clasico Nacional because....?
Carlos: Should there be an explanation for this? It’s the grandest of rivalries in Mexican Fútbol! It’s the Barcelona-Real Madrid of the America’s! Playing your most bitter rival always comes with an expectation to win the match no matter what. América will be looking to crush El Rebaño Sagrado to begin a bounce-back for América after a sluggish start of the season. Chivas beat América in El Azteca 3-0 last year, now it’s time for Los Azulcremas to return the favor in Guadalajara.
Enrique: El Clásico Nacional offers it all. Two storied clubs clashing in the biggest game the country’s league has to offer. One contingent features established players while the other is full of fresh faces. One can’t afford to miss this game if it’s the one that sees Chivas evolve from a team on the cusp of legitimacy to bonafide contenders.
Carlos: Chivas’ seven game winless streak at home against América solidifies Estadio Chivas as America’s home away from home. As always, a tightly contested game between Mexico’s soccer giants. I foresee an América win by the slightest of margins, 2-1.
Enrique: Chivas has been able to beat lower competition this tournament. This should not change with the pairing of Pulido and Pizarro gaining a better understanding as each week goes by — Chivas 2-0 America.