Chivas is in Necaxa in front of a big sip of water, which despite the end of the season as one of the hottest teams in the league, appears as a clear underdog.
After eleven rounds had been completed in the current Apertura season, Necaxa was last in the table with a record of 2 W, 2D, 7 L, which corresponds to a total of 8 points and a worst league of -10 goal difference. Not to mention that they had just given Puebla their fifth game in a row at the Estadio Victoria. Profe Pepe Cruz had just practiced his third game and it wasn’t looking good in any way.
But then came the 12th game. Round at the Estadio Olímpico Universitario. During their visit to high-flyer Pumas, they took over the leadership of the 16. Minute to about 20 minutes before the start of the game when Star Dinenno found a way to level the situation. The game ended 1-1 and Necaxa had found a way to take a point down the road against a top four squad. Thereafter, Profe Cruz’s squad won the five remaining games on their schedule, not only to secure a repechaje spot but also to finish tenth overall, just one point in the top 8. It’s worth noting that they went up against three bottom-6 teams (Atlas, Tijuana, Querétaro) as well as Toluca and Pachuca during that period. However, it’s never easy to win five times in a row, let alone with the added pressure of a playoff birth on the line.
On the other hand, we have Chivas, the home team in this matchup and 7th. Overall rank. The Rebaño had a rocky start to the season, but since Vucetich’s arrival in Round 5, they’ve been able to set a very solid record of 6W, 4D, 3L in his 13 responsible games (including the last two games he was eliminated because of his COVID positive end) October). They had a relatively good season of ups and downs like pretty much everyone else, and while beating teams like Tigres and Rayados, they were unable to win absolutely must-win games like Querétaro and Tijuana very physical football play.
Why are these two ties with Querétaro and Tijuana important? Her physical style is similar to that of Necaxa, which I would describe as a bit more physical than the other two. And Vucetich’s zonal, mild style of play is not a good sign when he has to compete with rivals of this kind. Also in their regular season Matchup vs.. . Necaxa, since the Rayos only had ten men at the end of the first half, it took every 90 minutes plus 4 minutes of stoppage time until Chivas finally got past Necaxa. Many forget that Necaxa took the lead 25 minutes before the start of the game.
These are two very even teams that ended the season just two points apart. However, Chivas are considered favorites due to their higher positioning and home advantage. While Uriel Antuna, Alexis Vega, Jesús Angulo and the company showed improvement after Vucetich’s appointment, the form and mentality that Profe Cruz whipped Ian González, Lucas Passerini, Unai Bilbao and those bad guys into to close the regular season is more than impressive. It’s not commonplace to take the dead last team in a league with six games left and run them almost to a top 8 spot.
PREDICTION: Profe Cruz let his defense click at exactly the right time and did not allow a goal in four of the last five games. Not to mention, Jair Pereira is now healthy and ready when needed. Unai Bilbao, Mario de Luna and the rest of that backline have caught fire lately. Passerini, Ian González, Zendejas and even Bilbao have scored three goals this season. In other words, anyone can score, which makes this team all the more dangerous. They found their rhythm at just the right time, and if we combine that with Vucetich’s historic battles in physical, difficult teams, this is the repechaje matchup that can undoubtedly go the way of the underdog, and I believe it will be. Necaxa moves to the playoffs and faces leaders León in QF.
C. . D.. . Guadalajara, Necaxa Club, Liga MX, Uriel Antuna, C. . F.. . Pachuca, Playoffs
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