The first leg of the semifinal between Chivas and Toluca ended in a 1-1 tie, with Chivas drawing first blood and Toluca responding almost immediately. While the match only produced a goal for each club, both teams had ample opportunities to put away more than one goal. Heading into the second leg in Guadalajara, Chivas holds the advantage with the away goal, but Toluca will come out in full force in attempt to erase that advantage.
Chivas were not able to get the win on Thursday but fans must be satisfied with the result in La Bombonera. Being able to get a goal at Toluca now gives Matias Almeyda a litany of options on how he should manage Sunday night’s game. It also gives him a little freedom on how he will manage his substitutions, with guys like Angel Zaldivar, Chofis Lopez and Rodolfo Pizarro still not at 100 percent. One option he should not take is to try and protect the one goal advantage. If he learned anything from his counterpart in the quarterfinals, is that that it never works out in your favor.
Almeyda needs to have his team play their game, or in fact, go out early and be aggressive and look for the goal. Chivas is the stronger team possession wise, especially when Pizarro and Orbelin are on the pitch. With Toluca more than likely looking to come out strong early, Almeyda should employ a strong base in the midfield, which will secure possession and strike with quickness. While he has been cautious with Pizarro to this point, tonight’s game is do or die. Having Pizarro from the onset of the match will show that Almeyda is ready to take the devil by the horns and will not sit back and wait.
Pizarro’s return along with Angel Zaldivar is exactly what Chivas’ need this at this stage in the game. Carlos Fierro, Nestor Calderon and Michael Perez, while all having completed an adequate job in their roles are certainly not of the ilk of those two players. The ability to have these two plugged back in the starting lineup will be essential if Chivas is to advance to the final, and will bring back the depth to the lineup that Almeyda had earlier in the season.
Toluca played two matches on Thursday; starting out each half pressuring Chivas and disrupting their attack for the first 15 mins, and the remainder of the halves, they sat and back and played counter attack ball. Toluca looked stronger when they were pushing up high and pressuring Chivas. They disrupted their backline and midfield forcing them to make many mistakes. In fact, Toluca’s goal came in response to Chivas when they started pressuring again. While it is difficult to maintain this type of pressure for 90 minutes, if Hernan Cristante’s club wants to win they must press Chivas for more than 15 minutes per half.
Chivas holds the advantage heading into Sunday night’s match, results of 0-0, 1-1 or a Chivas flat out victory puts Almeyda and his herd through. Where things could get tricky for Chivas is if Toluca scores two goals. Expect Toluca to come out very strong and if Chivas can hold off their initial attack, pressure will mount on Toluca and Chivas could take advantage of a mistake by los Diablos Rojos. While no one knows how this will end, this semifinal will surely be a nail-biter.
Date: Saturday, May 21
Time: 4:00 PM Pacific, 6:00 PM Central, 7:00 PM Eastern
Venue: Estadio Chivas, Zapopan, Mexico
Television: Univision Deportes (US-Spanish), Unimas (US-Spanish), SKY Planeta Fútbol (Mexico), UnivisionTDN (Mexico), Sky HD (Mexico), Canal 5 Televisa (Mexico), TDN (Mexico)