It definitely has not been the start anyone expected for the defending champion Chivas. Many predicted that they would have a rough start, but four points in six games and sitting at the bottom of the league table was certainly an extreme thought before the season started. Heading into Saturday night’s game versus Queretaro at Estadio Chivas things are in critical condition. A loss would certainly send everyone into full panic mode, while a victory would bring back the calm heading into the international break.
It’s been two weeks since Matias Almeyda was in the Chivas bench. In his absence, the team suffered a home loss and squandered a victory at Santos Laguna. His return Saturday brings hope that his time away was spent analyzing the deficiencies of the team. The problem this season could be attributed to a litany of things, from the formation, injuries, teams strategizing better against Chivas, to simply the players being unmotivated.
If I had to put those reasons in order, it’s difficult to do so because many of them are attributed to one another. For example, last season Matias employed a 4-3-3 formation which featured a staggered midfield, with Gallito at defensive midfielder and Orbelin slightly ahead of him on the right and Pizarro slightly ahead of them both on the left. This season the formation is more of a 4-2-3-1, with two center defensive midfielders and Pizarro split out wide. Having two center defensive midfielders when you’re a team that control possession is essentially pointless.
When you have a player of the quality of Gallito, that does his job adequately, it is not necessary to field defensive midfielders. On top of that, you lose the ball retention and possession Pizarro provides in the middle. This also is happening because all of the natural wingers that the team had are injured. While I can see why Matias is doing this, I think now that players are starting to recuperate, the team would be better served going back to the formation that found success last season. It’s time for Almeyda to field the midfield that found success last season and incorporate “Cone” Brizuela and “Chofis” into the starting line-up because a loss Saturday night would certainly be the tipping point.
Queretaro for their part is still getting acclimated to new head coach Jimmy Lozano but they have had a relatively average start. 8 points in 6 games have the team right in the thick of things early on and they have some good performances and some bad ones. The team defeated Club America early on and visited Tigres and came away with a point. The other side of the coin is that they have also suffered some bad loses at the hands of Lobos BUAP and most recently Xolos. It’s too early to know which Queretaro will show up Saturday night, but with Chivas being in a fragile state if they are able to strike early, they could walk away with some points.
Out of both these teams Chivas is the one who is in need of the victory Saturday night, but Queretaro is also looking to bounce back from their midweek drudging at the hands of Xolos. Look for Chivas to try and strike early before the crowd turns on them, while Queretaro will look to sit back and exploit the vulnerability of the Chivas back line on counters.
Date: Saturday, August 26
Time: 7:00 PM Pacific, 9:00 PM Central, 10:00 PM Eastern
Venue: Estadio Chivas, Zapopan Mexico
Television: Univision (US-Spanish), TDN (Mexico)
Listings via LiveSoccerTV.com.