Bryce Dunn –
On Sunday night Chivas did what many believed to be an impossible task in stopping the star-studded attacking force that is, Tigres, and entered the record books with their 12th Championship win. A number that ties them with Club América as the two most successful sides in the country.
Chivas achieved their first Championship win since 2006 after an impressive Clausura campaign where they finished third, level on points with second-placed Monterrey. Coach and former Argentina national defensive midfielder, Matias Almeyda, has finally found a side that weren’t just capable of conquering that long awaited feat but also a double that included the Copa MX title. A combination no other team has managed in since Cruz Azul in 1997.
Chivas gave away a 2-0 lead in the first leg
A final first leg away 2-2 draw to a side like Tigres may on paper look like a good result but unfortunately having been two goals ahead with 85th minutes played it had crushed early high spirits. I and many others thought this could have deflated the Guadalajara side leaving Almeyda’s biggest challenge raising the player’s spirits. This wasn’t the case though.
On the night it was Chivas, who had done their homework. The Monterrey team had been on a mission to evoke their CONCACAF Champions League final defeat to league rivals, Pachuca and were in red-hot form since scrapping into the Liguilla. Almeyda and his staff had clearly seen a statistic that would change their approach and affect the history books.
Tigres possession has been lower when they won games (56%) and higher (66.2%) when they lost. The possession game was evident when Chivas had held the ball more in their previous league encounter and lost 3-0. Allowing the opposition possession and then hitting them with direct balls forward enabled them to capitalise. Central defender, Oswaldo Alanis, for example, hit a long ball over the top to striker, Alan Pulido, who slotted home the opener on 17 minutes.
Chivas are now equal with Club América
The second half saw Chivas grow in confidence, especially after Tigres’ attempts to break down the right flank failed time and time again. Their organisational astuteness was rewarded with some luck on the 70th minute as Jose Vazquez shot was deflected in.
While joyous, there was still an air of caution after the occurrences in the previous leg, and in similar fashion, Tigres pulled one back through a brilliant strike by Ismael Sosa. Though it was too little, too late. This defeat for Tigres just adds to the question, why Ricardo Ferretti, aka Tuca, and his side seem to struggle so regularly in finals.
— Tom Marshall (@mexicoworldcup) May 28, 2017
Chivas are not just one of the two most successful teams in Mexico but also one of the two best-supported sides. Their self-inflicted rule of playing only Mexican’s doesn’t just add to their national support but also adds to their authenticity in a world of football dominated by marketing and money, and this achievement should be celebrated for not just the on-field heroics but for their determination to stick to their laurels.
The next challenge must be to break another long awaited feat, and this one isn’t domestic but international in the form of the CONCACAF Champions League. This trophy has been missing in their cabinet since 1962. Maybe it’s time that changed.
Bryce Dunn is a Northern Irish football writer and Podcaster. Bryce hosts the popular Bundesliga – Gegenpressing Podcast, which is the most in-depth English-speaking Bundesliga Podcast available and Golazo an English-speaking Podcast covering Mexico’s Liga MX on the Futbolgrad Network. He is an avid Liverpool FC supporter, who enjoys researching German and Mexican football clubs whether they are part of the elite or the lower divisions. Follow Bryce on Twitter @BryceDunn11.