Fresh off an easy win in the Clasico Tapatio, the Chivas host a Pachuca side eager to climb in the standings.
The Guadalajara Chivas sit 4th in the table and have been either great or only decent this season, depending on who you ask.
The Chivas beat Atlas in the Guadalajara derby last week thanks to an Alexis Vega hat trick, but they drew against lowly Veracruz the week before. Coach Jose Cardozo was on the hot seat early on, while his tactics are frequently questioned, moreso than last year.
The Chivas opened up their checkbook over the winter and acquired defender Hiram Mier, young striker Vega and midfielder Dieter Villalpando. As they have responded, it has relieved some of the pressure, and now there is a distinction between the starters and the B team, and it has been a long time since that was the case in Guadalajara.
Pachuca has been sneaking under the radar, keeping games close under new coach Martin Palermo. In the winter transfer market, the Tuzos added Ismael Sosa (underutilized with Tigres), and striker Victor Davilla, one of the most creative players in the league on a good day.
The Tuzos are sitting 7th with 3 wins, 2 ties, and 2 losses. They were quite erratic early, getting blown out by America (3-0) and Monterrey (5-0), routing Queretaro 3-0 in between those losses.
Pachuca is experiencing what the Chivas did last year, getting used to a new coach and trying to find their identity. The Tuzos will win games when they are favored, but facing top teams they can appear overmatched.
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Chivas 3, Atlas 0
Atlas had a few decent chances and controlled possession early, but were tormented by Alexis Vega, Ronaldo Cisneros and Alan Pulido. The Chivas attackers were constant threats with clever movement in the final third. Chivas coach Cardozo implemented a more relentless pressing defense and Atlas cracked. Vega racked up 3 goals and made a statement in his first Clasico Tapatio.
Pachuca 1, Puebla 1
Puebla played more defensively as one would expect they would with Pachuca controlling possession and having more passes, but it evened out as Puebla was dangerous on the counter. The game was as even as a game could get, and Matias Alustiza headed home in injury time to equalize. Puebla looked flat, but Pachuca didn’t look any better. Under coach Palermo, the Tuzos have yet to score more than 2 goals in any game.
Possible Line Ups
Van Rankin – Perreira – Mier – Ponce
Brizuela – Molina – Villalpando – Cisneros
Vega – Pulido
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it? The Chivas should be confident with this formation, especially with the speed of Issac “El Conejito” Brizuela and Villanpando’s creativity. Jesus Molina has been strong in front of the back four, especially with his ability to track back and win duels on counters. If the Chivas can consistently press the way like last week, then the sky’s the limit. The problem will be avoiding fatigue; that’s when they run into problems.
Lopez – Berreiro – Murillo – Hernandez
Guzman – Hernandez
Sosa – Cardona – Aguirre
Pachuca have to score more than 2 goals to spark this offense. The Tuzos are far too talented to struggle in attack. They played decent last week, but Guzman has to push more upfield and Erick Aguirre must be in the starting 11 to help provide better service to Franco Jara. Edwin Cardona can be magic behind the striker but the team has had trouble finding its rhythm. This team is too good to not be in the top 5, and this line-up is good (they just have to get used to it more).
Chivas: Vega, Vega, and Vega. All jokes aside, it’s scary to think that without him, last week’s Clasico Tapatio may have ended in a tie, or Van Rankin would be forced to play more upfield one-twos with Brizuela as he did last season. Vega may be the equivalent of what Rogelio Funes Mori is for Monterrey. This team will only go as far as Vega takes them.
Pachuca: Victor Guzman. If anyone is going to get this Pachuca offense started it will be Guzman. Everyone else can have their moments, but Guzman is the future. Not only for Pachuca, but for Mexico.
Pachuca has been very inconsistent on offense; new coach Martin Palermo is feeling pressure for not delivering with the talent on the Tuzos roster. I see Guzman scoring a goal for Pachuca, Vega will answer with a brace off two assists from Alan Pulido.