Friday Kick-Off: Monarcas host resurgent Chivas

Aldo Rocha (left) is the key link for Morelia in midfield and he'll be tested against the Chivas. (Photo by Carlos Cuin/Jam Media/LatinContent via Getty Images)
Aldo Rocha (left) is the key link for Morelia in midfield and he'll be tested against the Chivas. (Photo by Carlos Cuin/Jam Media/LatinContent via Getty Images) /

The Apertura 2019 hits the midway point this weekend; can either Guadalajara team start a second-half surge?

Matchday 10 opens in Estadio José María Morelos where the Chivas will try to leapfrog host Morelia as they chase a playoff spot. Later, in Estadio Jalisco, Atlas will look to bounce back from last weekend’s Clásico Tapatío debacle against tottering Toluca.

There is still a long way to go in the Apertura – the official halfway point of the schedule will be surpassed Saturday night – and both Guadalajara teams are looking to make the playoffs for the first time in two years. Incidentally, the Chivas hoisted the Liga MX trophy at the end of that Apertura 2017 season.

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The Chivas carry momentum into Morelia after defeating the Zorros in the Clásico Tapatío last weekend, but Tomás Boy’s team still struggles to find the net. Atlas, still licking their wounds, host a Toluca team in complete disarray.

Chivas at Monarcas

The Chivas ended a three-game winless streak with their 1-0 win over Atlas at Estadio Akron as the players finally seem to be grasping coach Boy’s tactical approach. El Rebaño Sagrado is moving the ball with a purpose and moving efficiently in the offensive third. Now, they simply need to improve their marksmanship.

Alexis Vega appears to have finally won a starting spot alongside Alan Pulido up front, but more importantly, the bench has stepped in for injured starters with solid performances. Twenty-year-old Gilberto Sepúlveda has filled in admirably for veteran central defender Oswaldo Alanís and 21-year-old Alan Cervantes stepped into Michael Peréz’s shoes in midfield.

Coach Boy said this week that the competition that will ensue as his starters get healthy will be a big boost down the stretch.

But if Guadalajara saunter into the Michoacán state capital bursting with overconfidence, the Monarcas will surely snap them back into reality.

Chivas visit Morelia
Guadalajara’s defense will have to know where Morelia striker Fernando Aristeguieta is at all times. (Photo by Jaime Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

Morelia is 3-1-0 since making a coaching change and Pablo Guede has established order on both sides of the ball. The 10 points from the past four games has moved the Monarcas into eighth place.

Striker Fernando Aristeguieta is only in his first season in Liga MX, but the big Venezuelan has settled into his role as point man in Morelia’s attack. He scored his third goal of the Apertura in last week’s 2-0 road win at Toluca.

Edson Flores is proving to be a solid playmaker up front and Luis “Quick” Mendoza has found new life in Morelia. In midfield, 19-year-old Eduardo del Angel and veteran Aldo Rocha have provided energy and creativity that has eased the pressure on the grizzled back line.

Guadalajara is winless on the road this season, something the Chivas must change if they wish to become a serious playoff contender.

Diablos at Zorros

Atlas was riding high heading into the Clásico Tapatío after beating América at home for the first time since 2013. But the Chivas slammed the door in the faces of the precocious Zorros. Coach Leandro Cufre could only watch as his team played poorly, hurting themselves with unforced errors.

Morelia hosts Chivas
Atlas defender Ismael Govea will look to play tighter defense against Pedro Canelo and Toluca on Friday night. Govea gave Guadalajara’s Alexis Vega too much room last week and it cost the Zorros. (Photo by Refugio Ruiz/Getty Images) /

If Atlas plays with poise at home Friday night, they should collect all 3 points since their opponent, Toluca, is on a 0-5-8 road winless streak dating back to the Clausura 2019 season opener on Jan. 4.

The Zorros need midfielder Osvaldo Martínez to guide the attack, and to step up serving as a steadying force for the youngsters surrounding him. Coach Cufre relies on a callow line-up with obvious talent, but their inexperience means the coach must accept the growing pains.

It doesn’t help that his central defense will be short-handed again as central defender Jorge Segura picked up a red card against the Chivas. Hugo Nervo will be back after missing the Guadalajara match after seeing a red card himself the week before.

Toluca is a shambles and coach Ricardo La Volpe is hanging by a thread. The Diablos are in second-to-last place, playoff expectations virtually shattered, and their offense is the worst in the league.