The month of April has had many peaks and valleys for Chivas. On one hand they ran through the competition in the Copa MX to win it for the second time in the Almeyda era. On the other hand, the starting lineup has suffered many injuries and they have only been able to win one league game in their last five. The latest defeat for Chivas came at the hands of a floundering Cruz Azul, which seems to have found their footing with a 2-1 victory over Chivas in Estadio Azul. Chivas went from top of the table in the beginning of April to barely being able to hold on heading into the final weekend of the month. With two games remaining, El Rebaño is set to host Leon at Estadio Chivas on Saturday. Leon comes into the match experiencing a completely different month of April; they’re unbeaten and have accumulated 13 of a possible 15 points.
The week leading into Saturday’s match is the first week all month Chivas has not had a midweek game. This could not come at a better for Almeyda and his team. Between injuries and fatigue, Chivas have been sliding down the league table, but this brief rest could be what the first team needed. Against Cruz Azul, Almeyda put out a mix of youngsters/subs and sprinkled in some starters and the team struggled.
I stated leading up to the match that the team could not stand to suffer another defeat because there was a possibility they could drop out of the top four. Fortunately for Almeyda, other results went in their way and the team is still in fourth place, but a poor showing against a streaking Leon and they could be fighting for one of the bottom four liguilla spots.
With a full weeks rest, anticipate Almeyda to be able to send out the strongest possible lineup available, sans injuries. Closing out the tournament strong will be a huge moral boost for the team, along with the possibility of securing home field advantage through at least the first round of the playoffs.
For Leon, a win Saturday would mean the perfect ending of an almost perfect month of April and could catapult them in to the top eight heading into the final week of the season. The match also marks the return of Carlos “Gullit” Peña to Guadalajara, where he spent part of 2015 and 2016. Gullit’s time in Guadalajara was not a pleasant one from the onset, with the player not exactly wanting to leave Leon and this was demonstrated on the field. Gullit’s inconsistent play led to backlash from the fans, until the point where the front office loaned him out. Gullit should expect a chorus of boos every time he touches the ball, but he will have to put his best foot forward if his team is to succeed Saturday night.
With the league coming to a close and both teams fighting for a positioning in the playoff table, Saturday’s match looks to be one of the more attractive matches of the weekend. Although Leon is coming in red hot, I except Chivas to finally get out of their rut and get a victory to close the month of April out.
Date: Saturday, April 29
Time: 5:06 PM Pacific, 7:06 PM Central, 8:06 PM Eastern
Venue: Estadio Chivas, Zapopan, Mexico
Television: Univision (US-Spanish), Univision Deportes Network (US-Spanish), TDN (Mexico), Claro Sports(Mexico), UnivisionTDN(Mexico)