Chivas defeated Morelia earlier this week to win their second Copa MX Title in the Matias Almeyda Era. Despite the fact that the Copa MX campaign was successful one, the dense schedule has taken its toll on the team. While the final stretch of the season features three teams that are currently sitting in the lower half of the table, Chivas has recently been plagued by injuries, along with fatigue being evident among many first team players. With three weeks left in the season, Chivas are set to visit Mexico City to take on a bewildered Cruz Azul on Saturday night.
Liga MX is among the most competitive leagues in the world, and with there only being 17 weeks in a regular season, everyone week counts. With three weeks left, there is only six points separating first place from eighth. For Chivas, finishing the season in the top four is important, considering they have had a better record at home. On paper, at least, one would think there would be no issues. Unfortunately for Chivas, the team is heading into the final stretch depleted due to injuries and fatigue.
Matias Almeyda has done his best to provide some rest to the majority of the first team players, but game situations, along with the championship run in Copa MX, have limited the amount of time the players have rested. Along with the Fatigue, injuries to Jair Periera, Angel Zaldivar, Rodolfo Pizarro and Isaac Brizuela will be big absences heading down the stretch.
Heading into Saturday night’s match, Almeyda will need to send out a balanced squad on the pitch that allows some of his first team players to rest but doesn’t compromise the team’s talents or style of play. One would expect to see Orbelin, Alan Pulido and Carlos Salcido only in the second half, depending on the score of the game. With those players needing rest and the current injuries, players like “Chofis”, Carlos Fierro and Nestor Calderon will need to step up so that Chivas doesn’t lose ground.
For Paco Jemez, it has been a tumultuous time so far in Mexico. Cruz Azul haven’t been able to turn things around, and on top of tha, the Mexican media has not let up with the pressure on him since he has arrived. In his defense, the team has not played terribly; they just have not been able to put away their scoring possibilities (which to some means they are playing bad). After a midweek defeat of Toluca last week, it seemed like Jemez was turning the team around, but after taking an early lead at Puebla last Sunday night, the team squandered the lead late to continue the club’s struggles. Hosting Chivas Saturday night, the team will need to win if they are to avoid sinking further in the relegation table.
With both teams needing to win for different reasons, Saturday night’s match should be an attractive affair. With Chivas riding high from the momentum of winning Copa Mx and nothing going right for Cruz Azul, one anticipates Chivas pulling out a narrow victory in Estadio Azul.
Date: Saturday, April 22
Time: 3:00 PM Pacific, 5:00 PM Central, 6:00 PM Eastern
Venue: Estadio Azul, Mexico City, Mexico
Television: Univision Deportes Network (US-Spanish), Canal de las Estrellas (Mexico), TDN (Mexico)
Streaming: fuboTV (Free trial + monthly subscription)
P.S. I joined the guys over at the Chivas Del Norte to recap the Copa MX victory along with recap last weeks game and preview the match against Cruz Azul. Take a listen HERE