America vs Cruz Azul Final – High Stakes Clasico Joven

America vs Cruz Azul Final – High Stakes Clasico Joven

America vs Cruz Azul Estadio Azul
Flickr/Juan Chanclas

The winner of the America vs Cruz Azul Clausura 2013 Final will earn more than just a Liga MX title, the winner will get bragging rights over a hated rival. The Clasico Joven, (Juvenile Classic) is a long rivalry between these two Mexico City based teams that spans through 40 years of Mexican Soccer. America and Cruz Azul have played each over 150 times, ten times in the playoffs, including twice in championship series. The first leg of the Clausura 2013 Championship series, to be held at the Estadio Azul on Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 7:00 PM Pacific, will be the third time America and Cruz Azul face each other in a Final.

Club America has a historical advantage over Cruz Azul, in terms of the playoffs, America has won 7 out of the 10 times they’ve met Cruz Azul in the Liguilla. Of course, given that the last time these two met was in 2005, the history between them has very little weight on the outcome of the upcoming matches. Nonetheless, the fans remember all those matches, and winning a title against a rival they despise so much would be the cherry on top.

If we look at more recent history for examples of how America and Cruz Azul did against each other in knockout style tournaments, we don’t have to go too far back. On April 3, 2013, Cruz Azul eliminated Club America from the Copa MX semifinals via penalty kicks. Before this match, the Copa MX was regarded as a low-class tournament that would feature youngsters and bench-warmers. That all changed when Cruz Azul and America were drawn to play each other at the Estadio Azteca.

The Clasico Joven raised the passions of fans from both teams, it didn’t matter that it was just the Copa MX, which the previous year had featured 4 Ascenso MX teams in the semifinals (and almost  no one cared about who won it). Fans flocked to the Estadio Azteca, and nearly filled up the massive colossus with over 90,000 fans, it did not matter that it was a weeknight. When the game ended in Cruz Azul’s favor, large portions of the stands erupted with sounds of joyous celebration.

The victory over America was made only so much sweeter once Cruz Azul ended up defeating Atlante in the Copa MX final. Upon their return to Mexico City, Cruz Azul was greeted by thousands of cheering fans (again, reminding you, that 3 months before no one gave a hoot about who had won the Copa MX). Would the Cruz Azul fans have celebrated this much if Cruz Azul had never even played against Club America?

With a single match, the Clasico Joven altered the stature of the Copa MX, raising it to the “we kind of care who wins now” level. Now, if America and Cruz Azul fans were so motivated by a Copa MX match, just imagine what we can expect to see this upcoming Thursday and Sunday in the Liga MX championship series.

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I predict that the first leg of the America vs Cruz Azul final will end in a slim 2-1 victory for Cruz Azul. Both teams have been playing at a high level in the playoffs, and we can expect more of the same. The battle in the stands should be interesting as well, the Estadio Azul will be packed with fans from both sides, hoping to move one step closer to the title.

The America vs Cruz Azul first leg (Thursday, May 23, 7:00 PM Pacific) will be televised on Azteca America.

Drop us a comment below and tell us who you think will win. If you’re a Cruz Azul or America fan, let us know what the Clasico Joven means to you.