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Despite the fact that Toluca gained a 3-1 win over Queretaro in their season-opener last week — and that Chivas earned a recent 1-1 draw — Chivas are understandably the favorites here.
They’ll not only be hosting this game but also have reason to feel self-assured against an opponent that still has much to confirm and substantiate in 2021. Toluca has a fragile backline, and with a tougher Chivas roster now facing them this weekend than that of Queretaro’s, fans should expect Toluca to slip up.
Toluca can do some damage in the attack, but they have one too many weak-links when it comes to stopping efforts on their own third of the field.
Chivas for the win this Saturday (-125)
|Chivas vs Toluca Information|
|What||Chivas vs Toluca|
|Where||Estadio Akron (Guadalajara, Mexico)|
|When||Saturday, January 16th at 6:00 PM ET|
|How to Watch||Telemundo|
After stumbling to a disappointing 1-1 draw against Puebla in their season-opener, Chivas should quickly turn things around during Week 2.
Under the guidance of manager Victor Manuel Vucetich, the Guadalajara-based club has a roster that is superior to that of Toluca’s. Though some may point to recent results showing Toluca having a more favorable start to the season — and more goals as well — a deep dive into those performances highlight a bit of luck working in the favor of Toluca.
Even with new faces in their team like Jose Juan Vazquez, Miguel Barbieri, and the return of Rubens Sambueza, Toluca will likely struggle when they have to go toe-to-toe with clubs such as Chivas that’ll probably finish in the top half of the league table.
As mentioned earlier, Toluca also has some work to do to improve their defense in 2021.
Toluca should consider themselves lucky for finishing in 11th place during the recent 2020 Apertura tournament. With 28 goals allowed in 17 games, Los Diablos Rojos had the third-worst defense in the league.
Granted, they addressed some of those issues by bringing in new defensive players over the winner, but that won’t be enough this weekend. With an injury to new starter Jorge Torres Nilo in Toluca’s latest match, there are now question marks as to who could potentially take his place alongside fellow newcomer, Miguel Barbieri.
20-year-old Haret Ortega is next line, but the lanky youngster is still fairly inconsistent and will need Barbieri to carry most of the defensive work. Torres Nilo could start, but may also be lacking full fitness after his latest injury.
As for their fullbacks, players like Rodrigo Salinas and Diego Rigonato will lack the pace to keep up with Chivas’ wingers. Even if Toluca brings in someone into the XI with speed like Raul Lopez, that’ll also open up room to run against the high-pressing player.
When analyzing games, you can’t just rely on the scoreline.
Although Chivas’ recent 1-1 draw with Puebla doesn’t look satisfactory on paper, their xG (expected goals) tally tells a different story. According to wyscout, Puebla managed a total xG of 0.83 while Chivas doubled that number with their own total of 2.06.
But what about Chivas’ penalty? Surely that gave their xG ratings a significant boost, right? That is correct, but if you take away that penalty, Chivas xG would still be at a 1.3 — and if we’re comparing numbers, Toluca had a 1.17 xG rating in their 3-1 win.
We’re getting stuck in the numerical weeds here, but you don’t need to understand soccer analytics to see the point trying to be made if you watched Chivas and Toluca last week. While Toluca had a bit of luck thanks to low-percentage shots going in and Queretaro’s defense stumbling over themselves, Chivas were worthy of more than just a single goal.
If Chivas do win, who would score the goals? If striker Jose Juan Macias is out once again due to another positive COVID-19 test, who would take his place?
The good news is that Chivas can rely on two different backups who had decent showings last week: Oribe Peralta and Cesar Huerta.
While many Chivas fans understandably roll their eyes at the idea of the 36-year-old Peralta stepping into the XI for a second consecutive game, it is important to remember that he exceeded expectations last week. Were it not for the quick reflexes of Puebla’s Antony Silva, Peralta could have had at least a couple of goals. As for Huerta, off the bench, the promising 20-year-old put on a show with two dangerous chances late into the 2nd half.
Keep an eye on these two who could have a role in a potential game-winner.
Freelance writer Cesar Hernandez is a specialist in all things American and Mexican soccer. He has written for ESPN FC, The Athletic, The Guardian, FourFourTwo, VICE Sports and several other publications. Along with writing and previous radio appearances on the BBC, talkSPORT and SiriusXM FC, Cesar is also a member of the Mexican Soccer Show podcast. Email: [email protected]More info on Cesar Hernandez
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