Atlas, Chivas want to get seasons on track in Clasico Tapatio
The Clasico Tapatio -- Mexico's oldest clasico -- between Atlas and Chivas headlines round six of matches in the 2018 Apertura regular season, with both Guadalajara teams in need of points on Friday. Here's what to look out for:
Can Atlas break their scoring drought?
Chivas fans chant about Atlas only having one league trophy -- that of the 1951 championship -- in their cabinet, but this time around Guadalajara's Rojinegros are the brunt of Liga MX jokes for a different reason: Atlas have yet to score in the Apertura and haven't netted in 719 minutes of Liga MX play stretching back to last season.
Atlas' last goal? It was back on April 4 against ... Chivas. Naturally, it was also Atlas' last win in Liga MX action.
The offseason saw striker Milton Caraglio exit for Cruz Azul, Ravel Morrison depart, Jaine Barreiro move to Pachuca and Rafa Marquez retire. The replacements -- particularly striker Octavio Rivero -- haven't been up to scratch so far, with the club bottom of the table.
Marquez is now the club's sporting president and is already in the midst of a crisis. The Atlas fanbase is livid at the present state of the team and while most of the anger is directed at club president Gustavo Guzman, Marquez could really do with a result before the pressure intensifies.
Rumors suggest that Atlas remain in the market for at least one new player -- perhaps Nico Pareja from Sevilla -- but should the young side not score and/or lose in embarrassing circumstances to local rivals Chivas, first-year head coach Gerardo Espinoza's position could come under threat.
"[My future] is up to the directors and we just keep working, thinking about the day-to-day and the Clasico Tapatio and us turning the situation around," said Espinoza after Tuesday's 2-0 loss to Puebla.
There is the theory that this game is the perfect opportunity for Atlas to respond to the crisis. And Chivas have only won two of the last 10 matchups in regular season play. But, first things first, Atlas have to score a goal.
Chivas to cap a perfect week with a win?
Chivas legend Adolfo "Bofo" Batista got the ball rolling on the pre-Clasico banter by posting a meme of a goat standing over a quivering flan, which had Atlas' badge on it.
Chivas are confident and will feel defeating Atlas would be the perfect way to end what has been a very good week so far. Guadalajara hadn't won in the first three rounds of matches, but a 2-0 win away to Veracruz last Friday was followed up by a 1-0 victory at home against Necaxa on Tuesday -- Chivas' first win at home since last October.
Coming after a summer of turmoil following the departure of coach Matias Almeyda and players Oswaldo Alanis and Rodolfo Pizarro, the six points were desperately needed and lifted Chivas to within touching distance of the playoff places.
Neither performance or game, however, was particularly impressive. Veracruz offered little resistance and there was a dubious penalty call to hand Chivas victory over Necaxa. In sum, Chivas are still a long way from the side that won the 2017 Clausura.
The good news for coach Jose Cardozo is that striker Alan Pulido could be back from injury, but defender Carlos Salcido and goalkeeper Raul Gudino are unlikely to recover in time for Friday's match.
Both Chivas and Atlas are teams that like to possess the ball and this should be a fairly open affair, although you'd expect Cardozo's team to have both that little extra quality and confidence to earn another victory.
Can the teams give the fans a spectacle?
Football in Guadalajara was given a boost when Almeyda's Chivas won the 2017 Clausura and then the CONCACAF Champions League last season, but in general it's been a barren period for both teams. Fans from both Chivas and Atlas have been protesting their owners already this Apertura.
The recent history of the rivalry has stood in notable contrast to what the Clasico Regio between Monterrey and Tigres has become in recent years, fueled by the quality of each team.
Guadalajara could do with a game that brings attention to these two teams for the right reasons. Goals, excitement and a full Estadio Jalisco would do the trick in the short term.