Ep. 29: Dos a Zero Futbol Podcast – Chivas are back? Spanish Clasico and Ame vs Tigres.

necaxaCR7A fun show with some good talk on the state of Chivas and their recent success. Are they back and will they be a challenge the remaining of the season. America used to be in crisis, now they are in the final of the CCL. Tigres has been surpassed by rival, Monterrey, in league standings but proceed to CCL final in an impressive matchup vs America. We even talk about US Womens wage dispute and drama. Tune in for good footy talk and some fun moments.

Pumas, Toluca Poised to Make a Libertadores Run

A quick look at the Liga MX table would tell one very obvious story:  both Pumas and Toluca are not having very good seasons.  They currently sit in 12th and 13th place – both out of the liguilla.  For Pumas, a stark contrast to their last campaign, where they finished the regular season at the top of the table.  Toluca, easily one of the most consistent teams since Liga MX halved their calendar, is also in a zone they are not particularly used to either.  On the outside looking in.  Normally, sluggish results like that would not just raise pundits’ eyebrows, they would also sow seeds for a fan revolt, and have coaches’ termination papers filled out.  In triplicate.

But, when we roll in what they have been able to accomplish in the group stage of the Copa Libertadores, this season has been an unqualified success… so far.

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Los “4 Grandes” All Win… Really

With a name like the “4 Grandes”, one would think that news of them winning should not be something to write about.  Well, they did win.  And they all won on the same weekend.  Again, you ask “what’s the big deal?  These are the premiere teams, the flagship clubs, the most powerful and popular clubs in Liga MX.  They are used to winning and winning championships.  So WTF, John?”

Well, let me tell you.

Yes, the big 4 won this past weekend.  America dispatched Leon at the Azteca 2-1

 

while Guadalajara surprised league leaders Monterrey in the tamalera 3-1.  A guy by the name of “la chofis” scored a riveting brace.

Cruz Azul made Atlas look so bad, favorite son Rafael Marquez begged forgiveness from the largest RednBlack supporters group, Barra 51 (named after the last year they won a league title).

After giving up an early goal, Pumas put together a 4 goal spurt to down Monarcas.

 

causing a butterfly to cry in a post-game TV interview.

The big deal is not that they won.  It is that they all had wins in the same matchday.  Something that had not happened in 4 years.  4 years.   Not very big 4-like.  We have to go back to Matchday 9 of the 2012 Clausura to see the last time this happened.

In those 4 years, Club America has certainly had the best run.  A couple of League titles and a CONCACAF trophy have restored order (if you ask any Americanista) to the world.  Cruz Azul and Pumas each have lost a final in that time frame, while Chivas has been in the wilderness, losing games and going through coaches and front office types like a tourist who eat too much street food goes through a roll of toilet paper.

 

The current table has them in the following positions:

  • 3. America       21 pts      +7
  • 5. Cruz Azul     18 pts      +7
  • 9. Pumas         15 pts      +2
  • 12. Chivas       12 pts        0

The 8th place team, Tijuana has 16 pts, so it is conceivable that with 6 dates left, all four sides could make the post-season.  When was the last time that happened? The 2011 Clausura, which coincidentally was won by Pumas – another opportunity to make the Butterflies cry…

Listen to the dos a zero podcast every Wednesday at 9:00PM CDT.

Follow me on twitter @jjagou

Pumas and Toluca get home wins in 1st week of Libertadores

pumaswinWith Puebla failing to get past the first stage, Toluca and UNAM are the only hopes for Mexican clubs in the Copa Libertadores. Both teams have similar defensive styles of play and in the first week, both now have wins.

Toluca played first and was in trouble to start as Moises Velasco got into a bit of a ruckus with Gremio players and was sent off with a Red Card. However, Toluca stayed strong and ended up with a surprising 2-0 win.

The UNAM vs Emelec match was exciting. Pumas came out and scored an immediate goal in the beginning seconds of the game. Ismael Sosa received a nice cross and put it in the back of the net, as Emelec players seemed to fall and failed to clear the cross.

Emelec didnt play bad and came on the attack, playing better for much of the 1st half. Then they tied it 1-1 with a nice play in the center of the field, getting behind the UNAM defense. The scoreline wouldn’t last long as Pumas scored off another nice cross, to a cutting Dario Veron, for the header that bounced once off the ground and fell into the back of the net. Set pieces or crosses would prove to be very effective for Pumas. This of course goes along with the playing style of Pumas in recent times. Long passes, playing vertical and strong gritty defense is what Memo Vasquez has made this Pumas team into.

In the 2nd half David Cabrera for Pumas gets a red card on a dangerous looking tackle. This would result in Emelec getting a goal to tie the game 2-2. Pumas just wasn’t having it though, as another set piece would enable the felines to take the lead again 3-2, with a header from Gerardo Alcoba. Pumas looking like the USMNT with all this grit, set pieces and excellent goalkeeping.

Pumas would finish the scoreline off with a final goal to make it 4-2, which was actually an own goal off a cross from the right side.

PikolinIt is worth noting that Pikolin Palacios had an excellent game, blocking many hard shots taken by Emelec. His athleticism, reflexes and quckness saved Puma hide on multiple occasions. After having a semi-bad game last weekend vs Dorados, he came back with avengance. He must still have hunger for some National Team minutes.

In yesterday’s episode of the Dos a Zero podcast, we talked about how these teams could have good performances in the tournament, even though expectations may not be too high. Both these teams are in the mid to lower half of the LigaMX table, and it may be a good idea to put Libertadores as a potentially higher priority, if LigaMX hopes don’t pan out.

We will watch closely how these teams continue to fare as the tournament progresses.

Ep. 15: Los Cachirules podcast – We talk America’s failure, Tigres win and LigaMX transfers.

Another Wednesday night, another show of Los Cachirules podcast. We discussed the failure of America during the Club World Cup. Atleast they got 5th place. We also discussed the Tigres win, LigaMX transfers and even who we wanted to see descend.

Listen in…

Ep. 14: Los Cachirules podcast – delayed post.

PumasEpisode 14 from last week, recorded right after the 1st Leg of the Tigres vs Pumas final. We discussed the bleak chances for Pumas to get back, which as we know now, didn’t turn out to be so bleak.

As always, we broadcast our show live on youtube, and announce it on our twitter account. So you can follow live, or wait until we release the episodes for iTunes and on this blog.

 

Tigres makes quick work of Pumas

It did not take long for Tigres to take the initiative in the Liga MX Apertura final vs Pumas.  It was all of 10 minutes before the Monterrey side grabbed hold of the series and looks to not let go.

For some, the penalty called against Pumas’ Javier Cortés was karmic justice.  It was Cortés’ tackle that led to the fracture of America’s Javier Güémez last week in the their semifinal.  Cortés was not carded or even called for a foul.  Andre Pierre Gignac, the French international who has been nothing short of sensational since his arrival to the Sultana del Norte this past summer, delivered a thundering, unstoppable blast.  It was 1-0, but it may well have been 10-0.  The rout was on.  The Frenchman, along with his strike partner, former Brazilian international Rafael Sobis, had their way with a Pumas backline that has picked the worst time in the season to become ball watchers.  Their inability to control the scoring tandem was only compounded by the fact that Tigres’ wingers, Javier Aquino and Jurgen Damm, feasted on their slower defenders.  And then there was the complete control in the midfield by Guido Pizarro.  The Argentine, like most holding midfielders, will never get the recognition he deserves, but the way he dominated the middle of the pitch was as close to an MVP performance as one can see at a championship game.  There is a reason why the strikers and wingers were so effective. The reason last night was Pizarro.

One would have never known that Damm was playing with an injury that limited his effectiveness.  Pumas had no answer for the right winger’s deep runs, where Damm set up his wingman Aquino with the second.

2 goals for Pumas to overcome was always going to be difficult, but a third would be borderline insurmountable.  And that is exactly what happened early in the second half as Sobis, tipped in a Gignac shot that Pikolin Palacios could only parry away. It is interesting that for the second week in a row, a team will take a 3-goal lead to the second leg to Mexico’s Olympic Stadium on Sunday.  The difference here is Pumas is just not equipped to take the offensive initiative like Club America was.  They are an absorb and counter side that used the strategy to great success during the season.

Now they will have to press a team whose coach, Tuca Ferretti, despite having more than 70% possession in the first leg, can’t shake his reputation as being the cat mouse coach.  It is true that Tuca has softened a little; his teams play a little more offensively than before.  But when they need, they counter, and like they showed last week in Toluca, it is still as lethal as ever

There are still 90 minutes left to play, and we all know that anything can happen.  But Tigres is the team that has the most talent, and playing the best soccer right now.  And Tuca is still Tuca.  They can be be more offensive, but order and shape is still what he cares about most.

What it all means is that come Sunday night, for the 2nd time in two months, Tuca will emerge sans moustache and Tigres will have their 4th trophy in hand.

Tigres Offense vs Pumas Defense Stats preview

Pumas vs TigresSo Martin Del Palacio has been putting up some great Youtube videos analyzing the statistics side of these Liguilla games. You can find his videos here!

I wanted to review a quick video he covered in text format for you to read. This is what he gathered. Props and credit to Martin:

Pumas Defense:

Pikolin the best goalkeeper in LigaMX?

Stats during Apertura 2015 for Pikolin Palacios (Pumas goalkeeper):

  • Most shots received at 126
  • Blocked 83 of those shots. (Best in League of all keepers)
  • 20 goals received. (2nd Best in League)

Pumas gave up 1 goal for every 15.5 shots on goal.

Tigres Offense:

Stats during Apertura 2015 for Andre Pierre Gignac (Tigres goalscorer):

  • 48 shots on goal. (league leader)
  • 1 goal for every 4.36 shots. (Last place amongst top 10 goal scorers)

As a reference lets look at Ismael Sosa’s numbers:

  • 22 shots on goal.
  • 1 goal for every 2.2 shots.

 

Offense as a team:

Tigres:

  • 1 goal for every 10 shots

Pumas:

  • 1 goal for every 5.8 shots

 

So based on these stats, Pumas takes advantage of their opportunities. Tigres creates and has more opportunities, but has a lower percentage of effectiveness. Additionally Pikolin and the Pumas defense has been solid in keeping the ball out of the net. This was displayed in the 1st leg of the America semifinal game, where America dominated but was not able to score on the Pumas defense, even though they had the majority of possession.

It should be an interesting game tonight.

Much thanks to Martin, who you can find on twitter @martindelp

Ep. 13: Los Cachirules podcast – More Liguilla Drama as America falls.

Los Cachirules podcastThe Liguilla final is set and a certain Americanista on the Cachirules podcast is salty like no other. In this latest episode of Los Cachirules, we discussed the Pumas lack of beautiful game play and possession in the 2nd leg of their Semifinal vs America. Pumas had a bad game. They had 2 goals scored on them fairly early. America again found themselves in problems as Sambueza stomped on a Pumas player to then get deservedly sent off.

The panel in its majority viewed the game to be evenly refereed, with bad calls going both ways. It was a tough job for a Ref in such a heated rivalry. The big drama was the clash between Javier Guemez and Javier Cortez. Both players went hard for a ball, with Guemez going in faster and harder. Cortez took ended up with studs up and hitting Guemez in the shin. This caused a fracture and Guemez to be out and will miss Club World Cup. Indeed an unfortunate injury, but the intention of of Cortez or entry to recover the ball did not seem malicious.

Second point of drama in the game is the alleged racist remarks from Dario Veron to Darwin Quintero. This is not the first time this has allegedly taken place. Quintero had an issue with another player while at Santos. First of all let me say, racism or racist remarks have no excuse to be used in my opinion. With that said, in the podcast we discussed the idea of “what goes on in the field, stays in the field”. Wether or not this is a legit statement we discussed the fact that Quintero was called out in the past for being a “chismoso” but no call out of Pelaez or Moises Munoz for the same “chisme”.

There were bad things all around in this series:

  1. Bad Pumas play on the field.
  2. Unfortunate Guemez injury.
  3. Racist gestures in the headlines in Mexican soccer.

We now have a LigaMX final with Tigres Vs. Pumas. Hopefully we can see some good soccer to end the season and year.

We will be having another show on Thursday to talk the first leg of the final. Tune in!

Ep. 12: Los Cachirules podcast – We talk Pumas vs America and more

Dos a Zero podcast

A Dos a Zero podcast

This was an exciting episode, because we decided to start it right after the Pumas vs America game and while the Tigres vs Toluca game was going on.

You all know how the Pumas vs America game went, so you can imagine certain panelist’s jimmies were most definitely rustled. He had his say and may have spurred a blog post from fellow panelist which you can read here.

My take is, the ref made a mistake by calling the early Pumas goal off. Britos was not offsides and Veron converging in, did not interfere with Moises and was not involved in the play. The call may have been that Britos was offside, and in that case it was wrong. The call could have also been that Veron was interferred, but he was not between Moises and the ball. The ball went so quickly past Moises and Veron that none of them could have done anything to change its trajectory. Clearly a bad call.

No matter, you have to fight through bad calls. It was expected for America to be on attack and to have posession. This an elimination tournament and not a regular season game like had been previously played a couple weeks earlier. It was intense. Memories of Goltz and other Americanistas proving to be hot heads came back. It was a heated and physical game. One stat is that America is the team with the most bookings(red/yellow cards). No change here.

Another stat, in the entire game America had 1 shot on frame. The UNAM defense was strong. I recall seeing cross after cross get headed by a Universitario. First touch and defensive posture was strong with UNAM. Some may say that America possessed and attacked, but didn’t put Pikolin in real danger.

Then came the Red cards. As a result open space for the speedsters, Fidel, Sosa and Britos. Even Lalo Herrera came up big with a very nice Cabezazo!

 

Anyways, we also talked the Neymar showboating issue we have been arguing about. The Real Pundits that claim they would have done the same as Isco and fouled Neymar for acting a fool. I’ll let you have a listen for our differing takes.

We also had some play by play on the Tigres vs Toluca game. All in all a great night for Futbol and good discussion.

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