The Estadio BBVA is ready to rock and roll tonight when Rayados open their season at home, receiving the ever beloved Chivas led by new head coach Veljko Paunović at 9:10 pm local time (CT). It’s the second of only two matches slated for today after the Atlas vs. Toluca match was PPD due to the Estadio Jalisco’s wretched pitch condition from the Copa por México preseason tournament use.
Since his second appointment as head coach, Víctor Manuel Vucetich is entering his third straight season with Rayados (second full one) and is looking to finally get them over the hump, with anything short of a championship deemed a failure for this high caliber club. Last season, a great run of results saw Rayados finish 2nd overall with 35 points to only be surpirisingly ousted in the semifinals by eventual champs Pachuca.
Despite César Montes being nothing to write home about, his departure for La Liga side RCD Espanyol will surely be noticed, as he offered durability down low and could score a couple goals per season at the very least. Meanwhile, Pizarro returning to Inter Miami and Kranevitter signing for River Plate could end up benefitting Rayados, as these two players are the epitome of inconsistency and didn’t step up when needed.
In the place of the aforementioned departing players, defender Víctor Guzmán has made his way over from Xolos de Tijuana; a regular signing at best. And just as well as the two midfield signings of Omar Govea and Jordi Cortizo. The latter does have some appeal for sure after coming onto the scene with Vucetich in Querétaro a few years back, only to see his best moments with Puebla over the past couple seasons. With that being said, he’s also proven inconsistent. But the fact he’s younger than the two departing MFs and has an explosiveness to him on the ball makes for an interesting signing.
Chivas on the other hand, are coming off a 9th place finish last season, losing out in the Repechaje to Puebla in a PK shootout. Disappointing for them as well to say the least. The loss triggered the firing of Ricardo Cadena as head coach and replacing him with the Serbian Paunović.
Their offseason was a mess, seeing four players depart in Miguel Ponce, Jesús Angulo, Ángel Zaldívar, and most notably Jesús Molina. But that’s not the main issue. What is an issue is the fact they only signed two players; a very respectable one in attacking MF Víctor Guzmán and an unknown in striker Daniel Ríos from Charlotte FC. Ríos was once a part of Chivas’s youth academy, so it’s a return of sorts for him.
But Guadalajara were a team starved for star power and talent a couple months ago, and if anything, it seems they only got weaker or stayed the same at best. Despite what Guzmán will provide on the offensive end, he can only do so much with so little help from his teammates. Not to mention, the loss of four regular players. I expect another mediocre season from Chivas with another road Repechaje matchup. In other words, they should finish between places 9-12. Anything above would be considered a success as this club continues to field pitiful teams season after season.
Tonight’s match is a tough one for the home side. Out of their last 7 meetings, Rayados have only 1 victory to Chivas’s 3, as well as 3 draws. So if anything, despite how subpar Chivas have performed over the past few years, Rayados have definitely struggled when facing them. A draw sounds about right, as all teams are barely in the process of gaining actual game rhythm, which tends to benefit the inferior clubs.
Rayados 1-1 Chivas