Game: Deportivo Saprissa vs. Club América
Date: Wednesday, February 21st
Time: 8:00 PM Eastern, 7:00 PM Central, 5:00 PM Pacific, 1:00 AM UTC
Venue: Estadio Ricardo Saprissa (San Juan de Tibás, San José, Costa Rica)
Club América could not have asked for much tougher competition than Deportivo Saprissa in their first match of the new and improved CONCACAF Champions league. Over the last three years, Deportivo Saprissa have managed to bring home three Costa Rican league championships as well as two runner up trophies from the Costa Rican cup competition. The team from San José, known as the el Monstruo Morado (the purple monster), currently finds themselves in 3rd-place of the Costa Rican first division on 22 points with a record of 7-1-3 having played one match fewer than the two teams ahead of them in the table. However, over their last five matches, Deportivo Saprissa have been far from consistent wining three matches and losing two.
Club América head into this very important international match on the heels of a surprisingly poor performance against Veracruz in which Bruno Valdez scored a 2nd half stoppage time goal to rescue a point and maintain the team’s undefeated status. The last minute goal and ensuing massive celebration on the sidelines perfectly encapsulated the unified fighting spirit that Miguel Herrera has instilled in his second tournament in charge of las Águilas.
The unified fighting spirit of Club América hasn’t just resulted in last minute goals. Impressively, the Mexico City squad has managed to be top of every single statistical category in Mexican fútbol after the first eight matches of the 2018 Clausura. Fans of Club América will be hoping that their team’s outstanding form will continue over from Liga MX into their CONCACAF Champions League round of 16 matchup against Deportivo Saprissa. However, this feat will be easier said than done.
Deportivo Saprissa is no stranger to success in CONCACAF regional competition. El Monstruo Morado have won the competition on three occasions with the most recent coming in 2005 against Pumas UNAM. Deportivo Saprissa have also been runner up of the competition on two occasions (2004 and 2008). The squad from San Jose was also a semi-finalist in the 2010-2011 edition of the competition.
Everyone involved with Deportivo Saprissa, from the fans ownership, are hungry for a return to continental glory and will do anything and everything possible to win. Expect an extremely hostile environment for Club América the moment that they arrive in Costa Rica until the end of the match.
In spite of the extremely hostile environment facing las Águilas, there is no reason that the club from Mexico City shouldn't return from their trip to Costa Rica with a positive result. Club América, along with being the joint winningest team in Mexico, is the winningest team across CONCACAF competition with a whopping seven international titles to their name. In their last matchup against Deportivo Saprissa, las Águilas won the two legged tie with a goal difference of +7. Anything less than similar success from Club América would be a failure of epic proportions.