Liga MX ‘Super Clásico’ tops Matchday 11 slate

"Chicote" Calderon (right) scored three times against América in the playoffs to lead the Chivas past the Aguilas. Media/Getty Images)
"Chicote" Calderon (right) scored three times against América in the playoffs to lead the Chivas past the Aguilas. Media/Getty Images) /
1 of 3
Liga MX Super Clasico
The “Super Clásico” is on tap for Sunday night. (Photo by Alfredo Moya/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

Matchday 11 culminates on Sunday night with the 154th “Super Clásico” as Guadalajara hosts revenge-minded América with the added bonus that fans will be allowed inside Estadio Akron.

Jalisco health officials have authorized the Chivas to sell 25% of capacity at the stadium, meaning 12,000 lucky fans will be in attendance.

The second-place Aguilas come to town eager to erase the bitter memories of the stunning sweep they suffered at the hands of the Chivas in last season’s quarterfinal round of the Liguilla. The Chivas, meanwhile, are hoping a victory will kick-start their run toward a playoff spot as their uninspired start to the Guardianes 2021 season finds them in 9th place, with only 2 wins from 10 matches.

Chivas have bragging rights

América entered the postseason last November as the No. 3 seed with dreams of claiming a 14th Liga MX title, while Guadalajara advanced out of the wildcard playoffs despite internal disciplinary issues that resulted in the release of four players.

In the first leg (at Estadio Akron), the Chivas shocked América with stout defense and a wonder goal by Cristián Calderón in minute 81. In the return match at Estadio Azteca, goalie Raúl Gudiño stood on his head and Calderón responded with two more golazos and “El Rebaño Sagrado” advanced on a 3-1 aggregate victory.

The fallout was swift in Coapa. Miguel Herrera was sacked and the coaching search dragged on until just days before the current season began. Former Real Madrid manager Santiago Solari came in as did several new faces including midfielder Pedro Aquino (from champion León) and winger Mauro Lainez.

The Chivas were unable to carry any momentum into the semifinals and they came up short against No. 1 seed León. Although they only made cosmetic changes to their roster during the winter break, the Chivas pronounced their intention to finish in the Top 4 and claim a first-round playoff bye.

Chivas’ playoff hero missing in action

The two bitter rivals arrive at their Matchday 11 showdown in very different circumstances.

Veteran coach Víctor Manuel Vucetich remains at the helm but has exhibited frustration at his young team’s lack of discipline and inconsistency. Guadalajara’s problems are epitomized by Cristián Calderón’s disappearing act.

“El Chicote” figured to have earned a starting spot after his postseason heroics, but his tendency to freelance irked the taskmaster Vucetich as he watched his tactical alignments break down. “King Midas” began tinkering with his line-up, preferring reliability and efficiency over explosiveness and creativity.

In addition to losing the coach’s trust, Calderón then missed several games due to a coronavirus infection. As a result, Calderón has appeared in only 6 of the club’s 10 games, playing a total of 340 minutes on the season. He did not see the field in the team’s disappointing 1-1 draw at Mazatlán on Saturday.