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A Look Back At All The ‘Clásico Joven’ Finals

La Maquina and Las Aguilas will go head to head for a championship for the fifth time in history. Let’s take a look at the last four.

Moisés Muñoz scores what could possibly the greatest last-minute goal in modern Liga MX history | Source: Marca

The Clásico Joven, the rivalry game consisting of Club America and Cruz Azul, dates its origins all the way back to the early ‘60s. On Dec. 16, Las Aguilas and La Maquina will battle for the chance to raise the Apertura 2018 championship, marking the fifth time in history these two cross-town rivals fight for gold. Let’s get into the time machine and visit all the instances where a Mexican tournament final has been the site of this historic feud.

Liga MX 1971-72 Final

Cruz Azul 4-1 America | Estadio Azteca | July 9, 1972

Highly considered to be the match that jump-started the rivalry, the 1972 title match featured the defending champion Aguilas face a Cruz Azul team that was in the twilight of its ‘golden age’. La Maquina won their first seven titles from 1969-1979, and this match awarded them their third star overall. Cruz Azul had become a real nuisance to America at this point as Los Celestes eliminated them from the Copa MX in the quarter-finals the year before they spoiled America’s chances at back-to-back Liga MX titles. Hatred and contempt was forming inside America fans toward the blue side, and this Clásico was just getting started.

Octavio Muciño scored a brace with Hector Pulido and Cesareo Victorino, Sr. also finding the back of the net for Cruz Azul. Enrique Borja scored America’s lone goal of the encounter.

Copa MX 1973-74 Final

America 2-1 (3-2 agg.) Cruz Azul | Estadio Azteca | December 16, 1973

In the same stadium exactly 45 years ago to the day, the same two teams that will be vying for a Liga MX title this season met in their second final, a Copa MX final. Las Aguilas got their revenge on Cruz Azul from two years before and won their fifth (and surprisingly last) Copa MX title after two legs. America succeded in stealing one championship away from Cruz Azul, however, that same year Cruz Azul would defeat Los Azulcremas in the Campeon de Campeones title match and go on to dominate the decade. The rivalry was picking up steam.

After a 1-1 draw in the first leg of the final, Osvaldo “Pata Bendita” Castro and Roberto Hodge scored the two goals needed for America to lift the Copa. Antonio Gutierrez would score the lone goal for Cruz Azul.

Liga MX 1988-89 Final

America 2-2 (5-4 agg.) Cruz Azul | Estadio Azteca | July 16, 1989

More than 15 years after their first league final, both America and Cruz Azul would finally meet again in the Liga MX 1989 finale. At this point, both squads had accumulated seven titles each and the league had traded in the ‘Golden Era’ of Cruz Azul in the ‘70s for America’s own ‘Golden Era’ in the ‘80s. America won eight titles in all competitions during the decade and just like that the Clásico Joven went from being colored blue to yellow. Everything was starting to fall into place.

Patricio Hernandez and Ricardo Mojica scored Cruz Azul’s two goals, but the same amount from Juan Hernandez and America youth product and future Maquina icon Carlos Hermosillo was enough for Los Azulcremas to lift the trophy. In the first leg, Hermosillo, Luis Roberto Alves Zague, and Antonio Carlos Santos found the back of the net for America.

Liga MX Clausura 2013 Final

America 2-1 (4-2 pen.) Cruz Azul | Estadio Azteca | May 26, 2013

And now we arrive here. The climax of this Clásico. All the matches over the years, all the finals, all the storylines, led to this moment. After exchanging years of domination, sharing stadiums and watching players from both teams switch sides, all the elements of a rivalry mixed, stewed and grew into what we know as the Clásico Joven today. In 2013, Cruz Azul had one mission, the same one it still has today in the midst of a title drought: win a championship. What better way than against its rival? Well, America had something to say about that. After losing the first leg 1-0, America defeated Cruz Azul in penalties after two late-game goals saved Las Aguilas and made penalties an option in the first place.

This final is ingrained in every Liga MX fan’s brain because of all of its moments: America’s Jesus Molina being sent off after just 13 minutes, causing controversy.

Cruz Azul fans’ tremendous joy when Teofilo Gutierrez scored that shot from the right side, giving La Maquina a two-goal advantage.

Aquivaldo Mosquera’s goal from a desperate cross that kept everyone on edge.

Muñoz’s diving header that, after smacking the leg of Alejandro Castro, went right over “Chuy” Corona’s head and into the net, sending the Azteca into a frenzy.

Muñoz becoming the hero almost a year after suffering a near-death experience in a brutal car accident.

The same Castro pulling a John Terry and slipping in the water before missing a crucial penalty.

Miguel Herrera’s now-world famous, memeable celebrations in the rain.

Miguel Layun putting all of the “Todo es culpa de Layun” jokes to rest with his solid strike in PK’s to secure America’s 11th title.

This final had so many moments that all who had the pleasure of experiencing it remember vividly. It now serves as one of the best Liga MX final finishes of all time. Unfortunately for Cruz Azul, it’s also one of the biggest choke jobs of all time. Still, all of the first three Clásico Joven finals were great, but they were all leading to this one. This was America and Cruz Azul at their very best at the same time, with all the history between both teams behind them, and their future reputations at stake.

It’s now the same way this season.

A new chapter will be written in this rivalry on Dec. 16. Will we get another final like this? More great goals? More unforgettable moments? It’s impossible to tell the future, but it does have all the elements of an iconic match behind it.

Clásico Joven #FastFacts

  • In official games, America and Cruz Azul have played 158 times.
  • America leads the series with 58 wins. Cruz Azul has 44 wins and they have tied 56 times.
  • In all, America has scored 232 goals against Cruz Azul. La Maquina has managed 203.
  • America and Cruz Azul’s first meeting dates back to June 23, 1963 in a friendly. Las Aguilas won 4-0.
  • Notbale players that have played for both teams include Horacio Lopez Salgado, Adrian Chavez, Carlos Hermosillo (CAZ all-time top scorer), Agustin Manzo, Christian “Chaco” Gimenez, Luis “El Matador” Hernandez, Sebastian “El Loco” Abreu, Vicente Matias Vuoso, Francisco Javier “Maza” Rodriguez, Adrian Aldrete and Pablo Aguilar.
  • Raul Cardenas is the only coach to lead both clubs to league titles (CAZ- 5, AME- 1)
  • Carlos Hermosillo serves as the rivalry’s top scorer with 15 goals.
  • America’s Oribe Peralta is the active player with most goals in the rivalry, with seven.
  • Year Established: America- 1916, Cruz Azul- 1927
  • Liga MX Titles: America- 12, Cruz Azul- 8
  • No. of seasons in first division: America- 100 (all), Cruz Azul- 79
  • No. of first-place finishes: America- 15, Cruz Azul- 13
  • No. of Liguillas: America- 55, Cruz Azul- 52
  • No. of League Finals: America- 17, Cruz Azul- 16

You can follow Antonio on Twitter @antonio1998__