The light at the end of the tunnel has finally appeared for Liga MX fans. It was announced that 8 teams have decided to organize a friendly pre-season tournament to be hosted in Estadio Akron (Guadalajara) and in CU (CDMX). The group playing in Jalisco will be Chivas, Atlas, Tigres, and newly created Mazatlán. The other four participating teams will be América, Pumas, Cruz Azul, and Toluca. The best two in each group will advance to semifinals.
This tournament will be particularly useful for Chivas, as we take a closer look into their squad and the potential changes – even without splashing cash! With the return of some talented loanees for a session of trials these coming days, a spot in the squad for the Apertura 2020 is not guaranteed for everyone.
The complete Chivas squad as of 7/3/20 (to my understanding):
Toño Rodríguez – 27 – looked decent last season, seemed to benefit from heavy competition.
Raúl Gudiño – 24 – has requested to be transferred if there is an opportunity.
Miguel “Wacho” Jiménez – 30 – returns from loan with Tampico Madero in case Gudiño departs.
Antonio Torres – 24
Hiram Mier – 30 – the best Mexican center-back in LigaMX, when match-fit.
Antonio Briseño – 26 – will be looking to beat Tiba for that starting left center-back role.
Gilberto “Tiba” Sepúlveda – 21 – very solid last season, the young defender has Tena’s faith despite making a few rookie mistakes.
Alexis Peña – 24
Jesus “Chapo” Sánchez – 30 – vice-captain.
José Madueña – 30
Diego Cortés – 22
Miguel Ponce – 31
Cristian “Chicote” Calderón – 23
Jesús Molina – 32 – captain.
Jose “Gallito” Vázquez – 32 – has requested to be transferred if there is an opportunity.
Lalo Torres – 20 – recently recovered from a long-term injury. I predict he will be a solid DM someday.
Fernando Beltrán – 22
Dieter Villalpando – 28
Óscar Macías – 21 – returns from loan with Atlético San Luis to try to earn a spot at Chivas.
Central Attacking Mid:
Javier “Chofis” Lopez – 25 – recently signed a new deal.
Edson Torres – 21 – returns from loan with Zacatepec to try to earn a spot at Chivas.
Jesús “Canelo” Angulo – 23
Alexis Vega – 22 – he is forced to play out wide, but his ideal role is behind the striker.
Uriel Antuna – 22
Isaac Brizuela – 29
JJ Macías – 20 – could be moving to Europe very soon. His goals alone earned Chivas 12 points last season before it was cut short.
Ángel Zaldívar – 26 – officially back from being on loan at Monterrey and Puebla
Ronaldo Cisneros – 23
Oribe Peralta – 36 – the veteran striker has heavy competition for minutes
Sebastián “Chevy” Martínez – 19
As you can see, the squad is vast. There are quality players in almost every position and each spot in the starting XI is heavily contested. Coach Luis Fernando Tena cannot complain about his options, as he could test out various formations including those with a #10 role. Perhaps the weakest points are those of right-back and goalkeeper. Although Chapo has been consistent at that right flank, Madueña has failed to convince as a solid backup. We’ll see if Diego Cortés impresses enough. And the goalkeeping gig at Chivas has never been convincingly secured since Rodolfo Cota’s departure to León in 2018.
A frustrated Gudiño might force his way out to MLS or Europe, per rumors. In his place to compete with starter Toño would be “Wacho” Jiménez, the penalty-stopping keeper that lifted the Copa MX tournament back in 2017, propelling Chivas to that historic doblete.
With an aged, underwhelming Gallito expressing concern over a lack of minutes, it would be a great idea to replace him with Óscar Macías. Gallito has looked very poor since lifting Santos Laguna’s most recent Liga MX title. He fell out of favor with the laguneros for failing countless passes and not understanding his positioning. A young, talented midfielder, Óscar Macías can carry the ball forward, find a vertical or horizontal pass in small spaces, or ping the ball 40 yards across the field directly to the path of a teammate. With an educated touch, he could prove to be a very useful tool for Chivas in a game that is often won in midfield. He is also quite good at corner kicks, getting a lot of assists that way during his time at Zacatepec. However, with Gallito’s current wage, it will be no easy task to find him a new team.
Sketchy Pachuca – *pretends to be shocked*
As we all know, it would take a miracle for Pocho Guzmán to return to Chivas any time soon. His situation is unclear, and his value has dropped immensely after not playing since January. Nonetheless, a manipulative Pachuca board is trying to keep his value high by faking interest from countless teams for the 25-year-old. There have been fake rumors of interest from Club América and Europe. The truth is that nobody is willing to pay the $10-million that Pachuca originally convinced Chivas to commit to before the doping scandal. This is a ridiculous attempt as there is no chance a player that is potentially facing a 4-year suspension could attract much interest at all. Your tricks won’t work anymore, Pachuca!
The Missing Piece
Maintaining Sporting Director Ricardo Peláez’s idea of heavy competition, it would not be surprising to see Edson Torres stay on at Chivas for the upcoming season. He is a talented left-footed midfielder that should be used as a backup #10. The missing competition for Chofis.
Stacked Squad – Tapatío returns?
This friendly tournament should be used to observe every player and determine who should stay. Chivas fans will hope they are all given an equal chance and that the better players remain. Another option for these returning loanees is for them to be registered in Chivas’ reserve team, Tapatío. According to rumors, they would play in the newly created Liga de Expansión, and Tena would still be able to summon them for Chivas at any time during the season.
Regardless of JJ’s potential move to Europe, it will be exciting to see what this young, talented squad can accomplish. On paper, this is undoubtedly the best Chivas squad in the last two decades. It is now up to Tena to make it work.