The Monarcas host Guadalajara on Friday night to kick off Liga Mx’s Matchday 10 schedule.
The Chivas disappointed last season, finishing in 14th place with a -5 goal differential. This season, Guadalajara has seen its share of ups-and-downs as coach Tomas Boy has tinkered with his line-up, looking for a group that can carry out his orders.
Morelia finished the Clausura 2019 with only 13 points and in 16th place. Not much was expected this season, but the Monarcas have more wins in the Apertura (3) than they had all of last season and they have 13 points already.
Guadalajara visits Estadio Morelos on Friday to face a Morelia team they have only defeated once in the past three years (1 win, 2 draws, 3 losses). Here are three things to look for as you watch the match.
1.) Morelia soaring
One Liga MX team often overlooked of late is las Monarcas. They have quietly been on an upward trend since firing coach Javier Torriente. Since then, they have been 3-1-0 and Pablo Gueded has them playing well, taking them up into 8th place. Their counter-attacking tactics with players like Peruvian midfielder Edison Flores, striker Fernando Aristeguieta, and steady defending from Gabriel Achillier are solidifying a team that not much was expected of. The team has also benefited by the addition of two veteran players during the summer transfer – midfielder Lucas Villafañez and fullback Jose “Shaggy” Martinez. Life after the departure of Peru striker Raul Ruidiaz hasn’t been as bad as many people thought it would be.
2.) Alexis Vega back on the bench
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Alexis Vega had a beautiful goal last week in what seemed to be a revamped offense. But Vega always seems to provide a spark when leading the attack, especially against Atlas against whom he now has 4 goals in two games for Guadalajara. Vega’s goal lifted the Chivas into 12th place. So, we suspect coach Tomas Boy will revert to relying on an old, tired, and oft-injured Oribe Peralta at striker instead of Vega. Boy previously told reporters that he brought (Peralta) back before he was ready due to the pressure to “Win now”. The Clasico Tapatio triumph probably had coach Boy on Cloud 9, but he probably felt pressure from fans and management to start Vega vs Atlas since he scored a hat trick against the Zorros last season. But the Monarcas aren’t Atlas and we fear Boy will stubbornly switch back to the veteran. Changing a line-up simply to change it isn’t managing, and this could be the mistake that eventually costs Tomas Boy his job.
3.) Identity crisis for Chivas
Midfield playmaker Eduardo “Chofis” Lopez finally returned to the pitch for a cameo appearance against Atlas last week. He had been out due to injury for a few weeks and his absence was noticeable. He provides an offensive spark that the Chivas desperately need. Players such as Isaac “Conejito” Brizuela aren’t as fast and young as they used to be, Walter Sandoval is a shell of the promising player he was at Santos, Alan Pulido has been relying on drawing penalties. Along with young defender Gilberto Sepulveda, “Chofis” has been a rare bright spot for Guadalajara. Players have struggled to find space in the offensive third and have hurried to defend deeper in their own half, such that the Chivas formation often morphs into a 5-at-the-back look. With “Chofis” the team can push forward with more confidence with just 3 at the back. Hopefully, the team settles into a tactical formation that can be relied upon the remainder of the season.
The Chivas will still be hyped up after their win against Atlas, but this has been a roller-coaster season. Guadalajara will not be shut out score, but they might be a little shaky on defense if veteran leader Oswaldo Alanis is not fit. Either way, I see them conceding a goal while struggling to solve a disciplined Morelia opponent before getting on the scoreboard late.