Three things to watch for in El Clasico Tapatio

Alexis Vega poses for a photo with a fan. (Photo by Stacy Revere/International Champions Cup/Getty Images)
Alexis Vega poses for a photo with a fan. (Photo by Stacy Revere/International Champions Cup/Getty Images) /

Guadalajara hosts Atlas in a Clasico Tapatio that could change the Chivas’ season and/or strenghten the Zorros’ playoff dreams.

The FIFA break is over and Liga MX is back. Though it was rough watching El Tri embarrass themselves defensively against a well-coached Argentina, it was only a friendly and we can recover by watching a Clasico or two this weekend.

That’s right, two big Clasicos are in store on Saturday night, one in Guadalajara and the other in Mexico City. The first one — the Clasico Tapatio — is for bragging rights in the Jalisco state capital and that’s the one that has our attention.

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The Chivas are coming off two straight losses and coach Tomas Boy (I almost forgot his name; that’s how un-monumental this season has been) is on the proverbial HOT SEAT! Right?

I’m only guessing as much, although Chivas management doesn’t seem rushed to get results. I mean look at Cruz Azul. They just fired Pedro Caixinha after a stumbling start similar to the Chivas who are in 15th place and face relegation concerns. The hope is that with some fitness issues on his roster, coach Boy will be forced to select players with actual talent to avoid further embarrassment. If they do embarrass themselves though, Boy might be out.

If you came here for Atlas facts, I’m not here to provide them and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Atlas is the forgotten team in Guadalajara, as far as I’m concerned. That being said, they are in 6th place, way above the Chivas at the moment, and they routed America in their last game (that’s like a win for the Chivas!). Atlas will want to climb higher into playoff position and would love nothing more than to get coach Boy fired (that could be a win for the Chivas, too).

What to watch for

1.) Alexis Vega in the line-up

Guadalajara’s young striker has been kept on the bench in favor of veteran Oribe Peralta, but despite not logging too many minutes for the Chivas through eight games, Vega was on the Team Mexico roster. I expect to see him on the pitch in this must-win game. He could provide the spark this team has lacked.

3 things Clasico Tapatio
Osvaldo Martinez could be the difference-maker in the Clasico Tapatio. (Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images) /

2.) Atlas midfielder Osvaldo Martinez

If there is anyone who can make the Chivas pay it’s Paraguayan midfielder Osvaldo Martinez. The former America star (another reason to root against him) has two goals and is the team’s primary playmaker. He’s a solid technical player who always seems to give the Zorros a fighting chance and he opens up play for teammates like Jesus Isijara and Christopher Trejo. Martinez is dangerous coming forward, and if he sees an opportunity, he won’t hesitate to let fly, even from distance. And he has great touch, too.

3.) A more attack-minded Chivas team driven by Alan Pulido

The variation of a 4-4-2 Boy plays might be changed to 3 at the back, with more of a focus on attack. This could mean a stacked midfield with two strikers up front — Alan Pulido and Alexis Vega. Alan Pulido is a leader on this team, and the Clasico Tapatio is a game the Chivas take seriously. Pulido has reportedly cautioned the team against partying the night before this Clasico, and he has had some very good games against Atlas. Pulido tracks back well on defense and that’s rare against anyone else other than his former team Tigres. He will need to exercise his leadership at Estadio Akron and producing scoring chances — his own as well as for teammates — is a great way to do that.


I see Vega scoring another hat trick, replicating the triple he scored last season against the Zorros.

Chivas 3, Atlas 0