After a controversial offseason, Chivas start their campaign with a tough away game at Toluca. The team that went from Champion to not qualifying to the Liguilla will be at the center stage of Liga MX, as one of the two biggest team in Mexico will be expected to bounce back. They will be starting in a tough stadium, as they go away to Toluca. Toluca has historically been one of the best home teams but they will also have the pressure of needing to come back after a very disappointing 100th year anniversary, where they failed to be one of the top teams in either tournament.
A lot is expected of Chivas after they defended their league title by not qualifying to the Liguilla. Matias Almeyda knows Chivas needs to bounce back, especially because many of the players that shined in their league winning season had severe drops in play. Chivas didn’t start well at all, as their pre season was marred by the Oswaldo Alanis saga. Although Chivas did improve in bringing young players like Gael Sandoval and Ronaldo Cisneros, they also lost a key player in Jose Juan Vasquez. Also to make matters worse, their main rival, America, made a big splash with some big signings just this week (Jeremy Menez, Andres Ibarguen). So while America looks to be in the hunt to be a challenger to the two Monterrey teams (Monterrey and Tigres, who played the last league final), Chivas squad looks to be a middle of the pack team at best. Chivas needs to be on top from the start, and a tough Toluca visit can be a great opportunity to make a statement or an ominous predictor.
Toluca had a disappointing 100th year anniversary that didn’t make as much waves as bigger teams like America. While a semifinal and quarterfinal exit doesn’t look that bad, Toluca is a team that was in the discussion to be included among the top teams back in the 90’s and 00’s. Also both exits came from disappointing performances. While Chivas and Morelia (the teams that eliminated them) were teams that played well those seasons, Toluca’s low key performances in both final games left a lot to be desired. Things look dreary for coach Hernan Cristante, who had publicly in the middle of last season said that he couldn’t squeeze more out of this team. Still, Cristante surprisingly remained as coach and will now go to the season with a more experience team, but a team, like Chivas, that looks like a middle of the pack team at their best and far from the big squads like America and the Monterrey teams.
Chivas will have the eyes of Mexico on them and thus so will Toluca. It will be a tough game, but Chivas can finally show that they are back to their championship level, something that they seemed to recover somewhat in their final games of last season. But Toluca has always been a tough team at home, and with Cristante, they haven’t lost that edge. It will be a difficult game for both sides and the possibility of a tie looms heavily in the horizon.
Date: Sunday January 7
Time: 10:00am Pacific, 12:00pm Central, 1:00pm Eastern
Venue: Estadio Nemesio Diez, Toluca, Mexico
TV: Univision(US-Spanish), Univision Deportes Network(US - Spanish), UnivisionTDN (Mexico)
Streaming: fuboTV (Free trial + monthly subscription)