The Liga MX Clausura 2017 final that everyone hoped for going into the playoffs will be underway this Thursday, May 25. Tigres UANL will host Chivas of Guadalajara at the Estadio Universitario in the first leg of La Gran Final.
Matias Almeyda will look to minimize the damage in the first leg and obtain a very valuable away goal. The Argentine manager has been using a 4-2-3-1 formation and there is likely to be no changes for this Thursday. The clash will be between two of the most talented teams in the League and here is a look at how Chivas of Guadalajara will lineup for Thursday’s monumental encounter.
Rodolfo Cota GK
Cota has been one of the best goalkeepers in the Liga MX Clausura 2017, getting a league-leading 88 saves during the season. The native of Mazatlán, Sinaloa has also been in top form in the playoffs and will need to be at his best against one of the most potent offenses in the southern hemisphere.
Edwin Hernandez LB
“El Aris” has been a very underrated player in the Liga MX Clausura 2017 campaign. The veteran fullback can run all match long and cover a lot of ground having averaged 9.8 kilometers covered per game in the regular season. Hernandez is also decent going forward with a superb passing ability and a decent shot which can surprise opponents in certain plays like corner kicks.
Oswaldo Alanis CB
Alanis was the only center back who stayed healthy for the majority tournament for Matias Almeyda. The Mexican international only missed one game during the regular season and has turned into a key figure in the playoffs wearing a face mask that is becoming iconic. Mats Hummels’ look-a-like does have great defensive capabilities but is outstanding at going forward having scored two goals and obtaining an assist during the regular season. One of his most impressive abilities is his passing and link up play as it is amazing for a center back having posted an 80.9-percent pass accuracy during 16 games in the Clausura 2017.
Carlos Salcido/ Jair Pereira CB
It is still unclear who will get the start on Thursday as both are coming off injuries but seem to be recovering well. Whoever does get the start will be the captain and will need to serve as a leader for the inexperienced core at Guadalajara. Salcido had been playing well in Pereira’s absence but is a lot less physical than Pereira and is more of a liability being 37 years old.
Jesus Sanchez RB
Like Edwin Hernandez, Jesus Sanchez was a very underrated player for Los Rojiblancos this season. Like “El Aris”, “El Chapito” was a key component that helped hold the team together both on the defense and going forward being all over the pitch. Sanchez averaged 9.5 kilometers covered per game and should prove to be valuable against the imposing Tigres’ attack.
Jose Juan Vazquez CM
“El Gallito” has had some disciplinary problems which have been his real downfall this tournament but other than that has had a solid campaign. Matias Almeyda does not count with a huge, physical presence in midfield but rather uses two quick players who can recover the ball to start up attacking plays from the center of midfield. Vazquez has excelled in this role having recovered the ball 264 times and having posted an impressive 87.6-percent pass accuracy during 15 games in the regular season.
Orbelin Pineda CM
Pineda has arguably been one of Matias Almeyda’s most valuable players this season. The 21-year-old has excelled in his holding midfielder role which has earned himself a spot in the Mexican national team. Orbelin shows true grit and leadership in the role and has been one of the hardest working players on the team, averaging 11 kilometers covered per game during the regular season. Some other impressive stats for Pineda during the regular season include 313 balls recovered and an 81.6-percent pass accuracy. Not to mention, that the midfielder also picked himself up a goal, two assists and a crucial goal in the quarterfinals against archrivals, Atlas.
Nestor Calderon RW
Chivas has suffered a plethora of injuries specifically to wingers and attacking players including players like Issac Brizuela, Carlos Cisneros and Angel Zaldivar. In their absence, Nestor Calderon and Carlos Fierro have emerged as very potent players that can make a difference out on the pitch. “El Avion” does not offer a plethora of pace but does have a very potent strike on him. The Mexican winger delivered a crucial goal against Toluca in the semifinals from a magnificent free kick that somehow glided into the net. Calderon also offers a lot of experience to the young core having won four Liga MX titles in his career which has spanned for nearly a decade.
Carlos Fierro LW
Fierro is kind of like Calderon’s opposite being much younger, much quicker and having a distinct playing style. “Carlitos” has emerged as a prominent player and shows effort in every single play having rapid pace but does not possess a great finishing ability. Fierro’s shot still needs a lot of work as well as his passing ability which was only good for a 64.6-percent pass accuracy during the regular season. The 22-year-old is still a very explosive player that can change the game with one play and should be an interesting player to look out for in this encounter.
Rodolfo Pizarro CAM
Rodolfo Pizarro is another candidate for Chivas’ MVP of the season, having been influential in this Clausura 2017. The 23-year-old showed maturity, intelligence and skill in his first tournament with El Rebano Sagrado. Pizarro scored four goals in the regular season, then in the postseason has scored a goal in the semifinals against Toluca. The goal was a vital one away from home that helped Chivas reach this final against Tigres UANL. Pizarro is perhaps Matias Almeyda’s most important man going forward and should be able to make an impact the Liga MX final.
Alan Pulido ST
Chivas’ lone striker option is not the best in Alan Pulido who scored five goals during the regular season. Currently, there are not an overwhelming amount of talented Mexican strikers and the fact that Pulido is Chivas’ main striker demonstrates this drought. Pulido can be clinical when he wants to but is not a reliable option going forward. His finishing is off and recently has not been generating anything in the playoffs where Los Rokiblancos need him the most. The 26-year-old has not scored in nine straight games including the playoff fixtures and will need to perform for Chivas to get a favorable result in this final.