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Liga MX Femenil Final match preview: Pachuca vs. Guadalajara

Pachuca will try to win their first Liga MX Femenil title, while Chivas goes for their first since beating Pachuca in the 2017 Apertura Final.

Detail view of the Trophy of Torneo Grita Mexico A21 Liga MX Femenil prior the final second leg match between Tigres UANL and Monterrey as part of the Torneo Grita Mexico A21 Liga MX Femenil at Universitario Stadium on December 20, 2021 in Monterrey, Mexico. Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images

Game: Club de Fútbol Pachuca Femenil vs. Club Deportivo Guadalajara S.A. de C.V. Femenil

Date: Friday, May 20th

Time: 10:00 p.m. Eastern, 9:00 p.m. Central, 7:00 p.m. Pacific, 2:00 a.m. UTC

Venue: Estadio Hidalgo (Pachuca, Hgo.)

Referees: REF: Priscila Eritzel Pérez Borja, AR1: María Fernanda Ávila Oropeza, AR2: Aranza Quero Aguilar, 4TH: Diana Stephanía Pérez Borja

Television: United States - None; Mexico - FOX Sports

All-time record: Chivas holds the edge all time, winning five games to Pachuca’s three. The teams have never drawn, and have only met in the Liguilla once before, when Chivas won 3-2 on aggregate in the 2017 Apertura Final to become the league’s first champion. Chivas won the match between the teams to start the season, winning 4-1 in Pachuca thanks to a brace from Licha Cervantes and goals from Caro Jaramillo and Michelle González while Pachuca’s lone goal came from Charlyn Corral.

Monica Ocampo (L) of Pachuca fights for the ball with Eleisa Santos (R) of Cruz Azul during the match between Pachuca and Cruz Azul as part of the Torneo Grita Mexico A21 Liga MX Femenil at Hidalgo Stadium on July 31, 2021 in Pachuca, Mexico.
Mónica Ocampo is still an important contributor for Pachuca, but the weight of the goalscoring no longer falls squarely on her shoulders.
Photo by Jam Media/Getty Images

A lot has changed in Liga MX Femenil since the first final. Gone are the teams being separated into groups and age limits on players, and in are foreign players and a full cadre of 18 teams. But time is cyclical, and just like in the first season Pachuca will face off against Chivas in the Liga MX Femenil Final.

It may be a bit of a surprise to see Pachuca and Chivas in the Final, but mostly because it disrupts the expectation that one or both of the Regiomontano teams (Tigres UANL and Rayadas de Monterrey) be playing for the trophy. It’s the first time since that initial Final in 2017 that neither Regio team made the Final, with Tigres appearing in every one of them except the first and Rayadas playing in four of the seven Tigres were in.

Pachuca is a much different team of course. While Mónica Ocampo is still with the team, she’s not the sole focus of the offense anymore. Lizbeth Ángeles is still there and has taken up a lot of the slack, and Viridiana Salazar has seen her star rise, fall, and rise again. Karen Díaz, Karla Nieto, Yanin Madrid, and Karen Gómez are still with the team, Díaz, Madrid, and Nieto becoming dependable starters on the defense and the midfield respectively, and Gómez in a supporting role.

Gone however is manager Eva Espejo, her Rayadas ousted in the last round of the Liguilla by Pachuca’s new manager Juan Carlos Cacho. Michelle González is out too, facing her final team in this series in an attempt to win her second championship in three seasons.

In their place are players like Charlyn Corral, who had a distinguished career in Spain with Levante and Atlético Madrid before joining Pachuca in 2021. Corral was already as much of a household name as most other Mexican futboleras, mostly because of her excellence with the Mexican Women’s National Team and being one of the first and few Mexicans to play and excel in Europe. Her signing with Pachuca was somewhat of a coup, as she could have easily won a starting job with just about any club in the league. Instead she came to Pachuca to be reunited with Ocampo, who also garnered her fame with Corral on the national team.

Players like Ruth Bravo, who have experience not only playing in Spain with Tacón (the forerunners of Real Madrid’s women’s team) and Rayo Vallecano but also with Boca Juniors and Estudiantes in Argentina as well as the Argentina National Team. Players like Norma Palafox (Chivas’ former leading goalscorer), Lucero Cuevas, Natalia Gómez Junco who had prior success with other Liga MX Femenil teams before coming to Pachuca.

The depth and range of experience on this team in addition to it being assembled in such a way where over the past few season each iteration has been a little better than the last make Pachuca a formidable opponent.

Licha Cervantes (L) of Chivas fights for the ball with Leticia Munoz (R) of Necaxa during a match between Chivas and Necaxa as part of Liga MX Femenil Apertura 2021 tournament on August 15, 2021 in Zapopan, Mexico.
Licha Cervantes won her second consecutive golden boot this season.
Photo by Alfredo Moya/Jam Media/Getty Images

In their way stands one of the most iconic clubs in the Western Hemisphere, with one of the most recognizable players in the women’s game in México. Chivas has been consistently good, not only winning the championship in the first tournament against Pachuca but also competing against Tigres in the 2021 Clausura Final.

Chivas has also undergone quite the transformation from that initial final, with only Anette Vázquez, Victoria Acevedo, Susan Bejerano, Lia Romero, and Blanca Félix remaining. Félix is perhaps the best known, reclaiming her spot in net from young prodigy Celeste Espino this season, but Vázquez, Acevedo, Bejerano, and Romero have all contributed off of the bench and in spot stats this season.

Sporting Director Nelly Simón has kept Chivas a contender despite considerable turnover at points over the past few seasons. Chivas lost coach Edgar “Chore” Mejía after last season, but have kept going strong under Juan Alfaro’s leadership. Chivas also sent out and then brought back Rubí Soto from a loan spell in Spain with Villarreal during the 2020-21 season. Soto came back from that experience a more complete player, and her vision to find and set up Licha Cervantes and Caro Jaramillo has been one of the keys to Chivas’ success.

Chivas also brought in key players since their first tournament, with Cervantes coming from Rayadas and Jaramillo from Tigres ahead of the 2020 Apertura. Chivas has also developed several players through their fuerzas básicas, including Espino, Soto, Joseline Montoya, and Kinberly Guzmán, who scored the goal against Tigres that put Chivas through to the Final.

Both teams are deserving finalists in the league, with Chivas going undefeated during the regular season and conceding just six goals. Pachuca meanwhile has had to fight and claw and survive, getting past a tough América side and the defending champions to get a chance at redemption. It should be a good series, and fans and neutrals should be in for a treat.