Guadalajara surprised pundits with a decent performance against Atletico Madrid, holding the La Liga giants to a scoreless draw before falling short in a penalty shoot out.
In their final friendly of the summer – a game nestled between Apertura 2019 Matchdays 1 and 2 – the Chivas faced off against one of the top-rated clubs in Europe in Atletico Madrid.
This is an Atletico side who just signed El Tri veteran Hector Herrera from Portuguese club FC Porto just a few weeks ago.
Many people were more excited to see Herrera play for his new club than to watch the Chivas who were coming off a poor display against Santos Laguna. And next up in league play for Guadalajara is a home contest against Tigres.
Many neutral fans and pundits, plus many Chivas fans might have been forgiven for thinking their team would be in for a long night. However, they were proven wrong as Guadalajara didn’t concede a goal in open play for the entire 90 minutes.
This can be considered an impressive feat considering that Chivas conceded 15 goals in the previous 5 games, including their embarrassing 3-0 loss to Santos.
The Chivas were helped by the early sending off of Marcos Llorente (minute 24), and this allowed them to go toe-to-toe with Atletico. Things were evened up in the second half when Guadalajara’s Carlos Villanueva Lopez was shown a second yellow card and sent off just after the hour mark.
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Goalkeeper Raul Gudiño and new defensive signing Antonio Briseno had very promising performances. Unfortunately, offensive issues remain. Guadalajara’s attack looked disjointed and failed to capitalize on their first-half numerical advantage. Fatigue from the club’s heavy preseason schedule may have been a factor.
Herrera came on for Madrid in the second half and watching him was the main attraction for many observers as his move to Atletico Madrid created such a positive buzz within the Mexican football community.
Unfortunately for the Chivas, Atletico won 5-4 on penalties but the players, and their fans, can be proud of the performance. Just keeping a clean sheet is an impressive achievement against this type of opposition.
Moving forward, coach Tomas Boy and his team are focused squarely on Liga MX with the powerhouse Tigres coming to town for a visit on Sunday night. In a game few people, even Chivas fans, expected much of anything, this performance could provide a little ray of hope for a club that is surrounded by negativity and facing relegation.