Forget Real Madrid vs. Barcelona, El Super Clasico is back on Monday as two heavyweights of Mexican football, America and Guadalajara, showdown for the 158th official time.
Considered one of the fiercest rivalries in world football, Chivas and America meet with just goal difference separating them in Torneo Clausura, in Liga MX.
Just to get a feel of how fierce it really is, in what was supposed to be a friendly, pre-season meeting in July, fans and players alike were involved in a mass brawl on the pitch as the final whistle blew—per ESPN.
If there’s one thing that you can guarantee about El Super Clasico, it’s that it’s going to get heated.
Venue: Estadio Omnilife
Date: Monday, 31 March
Time: 12 a.m. BST/7 p.m. ET
TV Info: Univision
America close the gap
The teams’ Torneo Apertua campaigns were a stark contrast, with America more than trebling Chivas’ end-of-season points total, as they romped to their 11th Liga MX championship.
During the season, America chalked up a 2-0 win against their rivals at the Estadio Azteca in October, as ESPN FC's Tom Marshall reported via Twitter:
America 2-0 Chivas in Mexico’s Super Clasico. Las Aguilas with 10 wins in 12 games in the Apertura, Chivas with 1 in 12.— Tom Marshall (@mexicoworldcup) October 5, 2013
That win closed the gap between America and Chivas in terms of El Super Classico victories to just two, with the Eagles picking up their 54th win during this rivalry’s rich history, per FootballDerbies.com.
But since then, America have gone a little off the boil in Torneo Clausura, while Chivas have turned their fortunes around.
With both sides 12 points away from leaders Cruz Azul, Monday’s clash won’t have significance on the outcome of the title, but it will have massive implications on followers’ pride.
Prediction and key players
Seeing as America have won three of the last four Liga MX meetings between the sides and have enjoyed far more domestic success than Guadalajara, you have to side with them, but anything can happen in a derby.
In Raul Jimenez, America have one of the league’s most naturally gifted finishers. The 22-year-old has scored 11 goals in the current campaign, per SoccerWay, and has tormented defences with his lightning pace and deft touch.
If Jimenez is given time and space on the ball, then he will punish Chivas and send the Eagles clear of their rivals in the Clausura table.
While Guadalajara’s weakness has been its defence in recent years, they seemed to have found the formula for defensive solidity over the last month.
The Goats have conceded just three goals in their last five matches in all competition and have kept three clean sheets during that time—according to SoccerWay.
At the heart of the Chivas defence stands Jair Pereira, who has been instrumental behind the club’s recent success.
The 27-year-old signed for Guadalajara from Cruz Azul at the start of the year and has been a virtual ever-present in the side since.
Strong and powerful in the air, Pereira will be responsible for stopping Jimenez from having a big impact on the game. Though he can comfortably do the talking on the pitch, he’s been doing a bit off of it, too.
Pereira hit out at America midfielder Rubens Sambueza on Friday morning to several of Mexico’s sports media outlets via Goal, saying:
“Sambueza is a player with attributes, but he doesn’t like getting touched and in that respect he does like to be a crybaby.”
Such mind games and mini rivalries is what El Super Clasico is all about.
In spite of Periera’s jibes, the class that America have throughout the side means that they have the slender advantage heading into Monday’s derby. At the end of the match, it may well be the big defender that ends up playing the crybaby.
Prediction: Guadalajara 1-3 America