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This is a bigger game for Cruz Azul than for Guadalajara, but the latter are currently the better side, and they’re playing at home. Cruz Azul have also slipped up in the last two league matches, so they aren’t in the best form.
Guadalajara could still end the season in second place, which is something worth fighting for, and dropping points is the last thing any team wants just before the playoffs, so it’s not like there’s nothing at stake for the home side. Cruz Azul have looked out of sort recently, so it’s best to choose a safe pick for this match.
Guadalajara have a far superior head-to-head record with 12 wins, 11 draws, and six losses, but Cruz Azul have the better record in the last five matches with three wins, one draw, and one loss. Cruz Azul won the last league meeting between the two sides 2-1 back in October 2022 as well.
Uriel Utana opened the scoring just before the half-time whistle to give Cruz Azul a 1-0 lead. Sergio Flores leveled the scores in the 68th minute before Michael Estrada gave Cruz Azul all three points three minutes into second-half stoppage time.
There wasn’t a lot between the two sides statistically. Cruz Azul had 53% of the possession and took 12 shots to Guadalajara’s 14. It could’ve gone either way, and a draw wouldn’t have been a surprising result.
Guadalajara had one of their best results of the season with a 2-0 win against Leon over the weekend. This was a tie between two of the best sides in the league, and getting a win against such an opponent just before the playoffs is the best sort of preparation.
The first-half was quite tense, with both sides getting chances but doing their best not to concede first. Guadalajara finally broke the deadlock in the 59th minute, thanks to Pavel Perez. Fernando Pineda made it 2-0 in the 73rd minute to confirm the three points.
Guadalajara put in a typical away display. They had just 45% of the possession but took 14 shots to Leon’s 12. They were a threat on the counter all game and got their rewards in the end. Leon played well enough to get on the scoresheet but never looked like winning the game – or even getting the point – once they went a goal down.
Guadalajara have won their last two matches in the league and are unbeaten in their last three matches. They have two winnable matches left in the league and should go all out to win it instead of resting key players. Not only will they have an easier draw if they finish higher up the table, but they’ll also have the right sort of preparation heading into the playoffs. The last thing any team wants heading into the playoffs are doubts about their ability.
They haven’t really been the best team in an attacking or defensive sense this season. They’ve gone game by game, tailored their tactics based on the opposition, and got to fourth place. These tactics tend to work out in playoff matches, so it’ll be fascinating to see how far Guadalajara go playing like this.
Cruz Azul put in another worrying display over the weekend in a 3-1 loss to Club America. Uriel Antuna opened the scoring in the 12th minute for Cruz Azul, but things only got worse from that point. Alejandro Zendejas leveled the scores in the 42nd minute before Cruz Azul shot themselves in the foot, with Michael Estrada getting sent off just before the half-time whistle.
Zendejas made it 2-1 just two minutes after half-time before Henry Martin squeezed the dagger in the 63rd minute to make it 3-1. Once Cruz Azul were down to 10 men, they were never going to win this tie. It was a matter of damage limitation, but Zendejas's second-half strike ended that as well.
Club America toom 16 shots to Cruz Azul’s seven and had 62% of the possession, so there was only going to be one winner. Cruz Azul couldn’t have asked for a better start but lacked the discipline and concentration to get over the line. This was a big loss in the race for the playoff spots, as six teams below them could still get into the playoffs with two games left for the regular season to end.
Cruz Azul’s final game of the league season is against Santos Laguna, their closest rivals for the playoff spot. If they beat them, they will qualify for the playoffs. If they win this game, however, a draw will suffice against Santos Laguna in the final league game of the season.
This is a massive game for Cruz Azul. Guadalajara don’t have as much to play for in this game, so they must put on a show. Cruz Azul have got a good record against Guadalajara in recent years, and have to use that to their advantage. Cruz Azul’s biggest strength this season has been their defense; they’ve only conceded 18 goals this season. They need to start the game with a defensive game-plan and look for opportunities on the counter.
Guadalajara will be expected to have most of the ball and territory at home, so there’ll be a lot of space behind their defense. Guadalajara have also had some issues when they’re expected to dominate in games, so Cruz Azul need to take advantage of this weakness. If they get the points in this match, the pressure will lessen in the final match of the league season against Santos Laguna.
They might not even have to win that match if Santos Laguna drop points in their next tie, but it’s best not to leave things to chance and ensure qualification before it comes to that point. Santos Laguna have a pretty winnable game against Queretaro, so it’s most likely going to go to the final game. If it comes to that, it’s always good to have the option of going through with just a draw.
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Teams: Guadalajara vs Cruz Azul
Location: Akron Stadium
Time: Saturday, April 22 at 7:05 pm ET onwards
How to watch: Univision networks TUDN and UniMas, ESPN Deportes, Telemundo, and Fox Deportes
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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