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Odds taken from Tipico Sportsbook
Pick: Club America to win. (+135)
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Club America have given themselves a great platform to enter the 2022-23 Liga MX Clausura finals after winning 1-0 in the first leg of their tie against Guadalajara. The two rivals are the most successful sides in Liga MX history and played up to that reputation in the first leg.
The 1-0 scoreline, of course, means that Guadalajara still have a chance to enter the next round. Still, getting a result at the Azteca with the Club America faithful cheering on will be incredibly difficult.
There was decent value in picking either side in the first leg, but the second leg’s more straightforward. Guadalajara offer great value but the odds of winning this tie are highly improbable. Club America lost just one game in the league campaign, and a draw isn’t going to cut it for Guadalajara.
The away side will need to open up, and Club America are the type of side that’ll punish even the slightest of weaknesses. It’s best to just play safe by picking Club America.
The win in midweek was Club America’s 13th against Guadalajara in 30 matches. They’ve lost seven and drawn 10 of the other matches. This was their fourth win in a row against Guadalajara, and it looks like it could be five in a few days’ time.
Unlike the other semifinal, this match was a far better watch. Club America started the game in a shaky fashion and nearly gifted Guadalajara the lead in the 6th minute of the game by misplacing a pass into the path of Alexis Vega. Vega was denied by Club America keeper Luis Malagon, who was the best player on the day. Guadalajara keeper Miguel Jiminez also made some great saves in the game but didn’t face as many testing shots.
Guadalajara were certainly the better side in the first half, but Luis Malagon ensured they couldn’t do anything constructive with their momentum. Club America were competitive for the whole game, but many of their shots in the first half came from range.
Club America were a bit more assertive in the second half and were rewarded with a goal in the 60th minute. It was a great team move that started from the back and was finished by Alejandro Zendejas. Zendejas had a high and wide starting position on the right before making an inside run behind the defense and scoring his goal. He still had a lot to do to put the ball in the net, as he used his right foot to feign a cross before putting the ball past Miguel Jiminez’s near post with his weaker left foot.
After going 1-0 up, Club America were a bit more comfortable. Guadalajara didn’t stop attempting for the equalizer and had some half-chances towards the end of the match, but it didn’t come.
Overall, there wasn’t much separating the two sides besides the goal. Guadalajara took 16 shots to Club America’s 18, with five on target compared to Club America’s six. Club America edged the share of possession with 53%, but this wasn’t the decisive factor; a moment of quality from Zendejas was the difference between the two sides.
Guadalajara have it all to do. Getting something away from home will be an arduous task, but their first leg performance showed that it’s not impossible.
Guadalajara were a bit unlucky not to at least draw the first leg. They went toe-to-toe with arguably the best team in the league and had the better chances in the match. If they can match the effort that was displayed in the first leg in the second leg and get some good fortune that they lacked in the first leg, they can cause a big upset.
Club America are an excellent side, but they’re not invincible. After coasting through their quarterfinal first leg against San Luis 3-1, Club America lost the second leg 2-1 after conceding two early goals. They got a goal back in the 88th minute to confirm qualification into the next round, but they showed a lack of focus and concentration that could cost them in the second leg.
Guadalajara also showed Club America’s weaknesses in defense in the first leg – something San Luis also managed to expose. It won’t be easy, but if manager Veljko Puaunovic can fill the team with belief and devise a strategy to expose Club America’s high defensive line, they could achieve something spectacular in the second leg.
In many ways, the first leg has been the story of Club America’s season. They weren’t at their imperious best today, but they got the job done. At the start of the season, many fans and media experts were questioning whether their hold on the league had ended.
Of course, Club America haven’t won the league in some time, but they’ve been the most consistent side in the competition for the last half a decade. They’ve gone into most seasons as the team to beat, but a string of draws and underwhelming performances at the start of the season has many questioning if this team is past its sell-by date.
Now, they’re one match away from entering the Liga MX finals; that’s how quickly things can change in football. A win against league leaders Monterrey in midseason seems to have reenergized the team and the club. Despite their poor start to the season, they ended the league campaign as the second-best side and scored the most goals along the way.
It seems like a drop in expectations has helped the club and the players. With Monterrey taking some of the pressure off them, the players seem less tense. They weren’t at their best against Guadalajara but never looked too perturbed in the game; there was a calmness in their demeanor even during periods of adversity. They played like a side that knew they’d get a chance at some point and take it.
Of course, they have to be careful in the next leg. They very nearly suffered a humiliating defeat in the last round after winning the second leg. The tie is not finished yet.
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With an interest in strategy and mathematics, applying that to sports writing was the natural progression. A writer at night and the founder of a gaming company, Nikhil’s previous experience includes working with ESPN for five years. His specialization includes soccer, basketball, tennis, and esports betting. Email: [email protected]More info on Nikhil Kalro
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