After falling behind in barely the 6th minute of play due to a fielding error by keeper Aguerre, things weren’t looking good for Mauro Gerk and his Gallos. After having lost their first two matches, he knew something had to change. Right out of the gate, he fielded a defensive line of 3 (inserting Osuna into the center), followed by a midfield of 5 (with Barrera and Rojas on the edges). and 2 strikers (Sepúlveda and Sequeira). No doubt he had the intention to shake things up from the start in comparison to the club’s first two matches.
Even trailing early with a third consecutive loss looming, the team kept its cool and started creating chances, how limited they might have been. And the patience paid off, even if it was through sheer luck thanks to an Alfredo Talavera blunder. Newly acquired Jordan Silva took the ball in his own third and sent a long ball looking for his strikers. The pass was so strongly hit and off target, it took its first bounce in the half circle just outside the penalty box. The ball had such a strange effect, it lunged forward unexpectedly and surprised Talavera, making his outstretched right arm useless, and just like that, the score was back even at 1. Both keepers were big factors in the match already.
In the final 13 minutes of the first half, referee Eduardo Galvan managed to whistle two very dubious penalties in favor of Juárez. The first was stopped by Washington Aguerre, while the VAR came in for the second and reversed the call on the field. That would be the last important play of the first half and the score went into the break 1-1.
The second half featured an overall physical and gritty style of play by both clubs. The border city side never managed to create clear opportunities, but did dominate ball possession. However, Gallos managed to clog up the midfield and complicate life in many ways for Juárez, despite not being able to generate much danger themselves. Up until the 79th minute that is, when youngster Rodrigo López took a pass just outside Juárez’s penalty box and fired it on goal, only to meet Talavera’s gloves.
With this draw, Querétaro extended their road winless streak to 38 consecutive league matches (39 overall including the Repechaje match in Torreón back in May 2021). But more importantly for them is what this result means for Gerk and the overall confidence of the team. After looking vastly outplayed in their first two matches, this new tactical system allowed Querétaro to hold their own, and despite limitations, managed to be an issue for a very much improved Cristante-led squad. With a very long season still ahead for Gerk and company, knowing you can be impactful with different formations gives you confidence moving forward, and that’s especially important to a group of players like this one.
Up next for FC Juárez is a visit to Necaxa next Friday night, while Querétaro will host Rayados next Thursday.