Game: Club América vs. Cruz Azul
Date: Saturday, March 31st
Time: 11:00 PM Eastern, 10:00 PM Central, 8:00 PM Pacific, 4:00 AM UTC
Venue: Estadio Azteca (Ciudad de México)
Las Águilas will get right back into the swing of Liga MX action as they host crosstown rivals Cruz Azul in the Clásico Joven on Saturday night. The match comes on the heels of an action packed international break that saw several Liga MX teams travel to the USA for friendlies and a large contingent of Liga MX players called up to represent their nations in World Cup warmup matches.
Club América experienced everything that the international break had to offer by playing a friendly match against Xolos de Tijuana in San Diego, California and having several players called up to represent Mexico, Colombia, and Paraguay during their World Cup warmup matches.
Matheus Uribe was undoubtedly the star of the international break for Club América. The Colombian winger played 90 minutes and was very prolific in his country’s historic come from behind win against France in Paris. Uribe also started and played 71 minutes in Colombia’s 0-0 draw against Australia that was strangely played at Fulham’s Craven Cottage in London.
A close second for standout of the international break would have to be Diego Lainez. The young attacking midfielder, who has largely been relegated to the U-20 squad since the arrival of Miguel Herrera as the club’s coach, was called up by the U-20 Mexico national team for a series of friendlies against Brazil in South America. In both matches, Lainez was the standout player on the pitch by far. There were no players, on either team, who were as dominant as Diego Lainez. Surely Miguel Herrera will have to think about giving the youngster a chance in the first team after his performances over the international break. If he doesn’t see more first team action, it might be time for Lainez to start looking for a new team.
A makeshift Club América squad missing many of its key players to international duty travelled to San Diego to take on Xolos de Tijuana. Despite being just across the US border from Tijuana, Club América fans made up the vast majority of those in attendance of the match.
Nuestro XI en San Diego:— Club América (@ClubAmerica) March 24, 2018
6 Emanuel Aguilera
11 Andrés Ibargüen
14 / @JoeCorona15
22 Paul Aguilar
32 @quique_cedillo pic.twitter.com/Z5ZxrbHTDs
The makeshift Águilas squad found themselves on the end of a 2-0 scoreline at the end of the first half as Xolos dominated the proceedings early on. However, the makeshift Águilas squad was able to battle their way back into the match thanks to goals from Wero Díaz and hometown hero Joe Corona.
Cruz Azul, in a very similar manner to Club América, traveled to the US for a friendly match and also had several of their players called up for international friendlies. However, unlike Club América, things didn’t go so swimmingly for Cruz Azul during this international break. Chilean striker Felipe Mora injured his left knee training with the Chilean national team prior to their match against Switzerland over the international break.
La Maquina Celeste, without several Chilean players and their star goalkeeper JJ Corona due to international call-ups, were easily dispatched by a much better Rayados de Monterrey side in Dallas. Cruz Azul looked dead in the water from the minute that their match against Monterrey kicked off. The team lead by Pedra Caixinha were unable to do anything on the pitch. Sloppy passes, poor defending, and wildly inaccurate shots categorized the match for Cruz Azul.
The lone bright spot for Cruz Azul over the international break was the stellar performance of goalkeeper JJ Corona who was forced to make several saves in order to preserve a clean sheet against Iceland.
The international break basically summed up how the 2018 Clausura season has been going for Club América and Cruz Azul respectively.
Las Águilas, without many of their best players on the pitch, were able to get an improbable come from behind result against a strong Xolos de Tijuana side. The players never dropped their heads after going giving up two goals in the first half. It looked as though the makeshift Águilas squad always believed that they would be able to come from behind and get a positive result. This never give up attitude has helped Club América become one of the top teams in the 2018 Clausura season.
Cruz Azul on the other hand have looked like a team without an identity since the arival of Pedro Caixinha at the beginning of the season. From their first 12 games la Maquina Celeste has a total of 12 points and have never once looked like they were a dominant side capable of making a title run. A shock 5-0 victory over a Pachuca team that seemingly forgot how to play fútbol for a game two weeks ago has been the lone standout performance from Cruz Azul this season.
There is absolutely no reason that Club América shouldn't be able to defeat a struggling Cruz Azul side on Saturday night. Las Águilas have simply been the better squad over the past calendar year. With thew loss of Felipe Mora to injury, the lackluster Cruz Azul attack will be even weaker than usual. Expect a fairly lopsided victory from Club América in this one. The match just doesn't seem like it could go any other way.