By Florian, with special thanks to Francisco Chimal, Chivas fan.
After the victory registered against the MLS finest, it was natural that Arsenal would take their chances against one of Mexico’s most popular clubs. C.D. Guadalajara is our opponent, today or tomorrow, depending on which side of the world you live on. At the time of writing this report, it is already today for me.
To be fair, Chivas (yes, the Goats is the literal translation) is actually the most popular club in Mexico, with 44.2% of all the football supporters on their side. Apparently though, that kind of popularity wasn’t enough to keep them away from trouble. Francisco here will explain, as he graciously agreed to share us a few historic details. In his own words…
“Chivas is one of the oldest soccer teams in Mexico. It was created in 1906. It is also one of the most popular teams in this country, together with America Football Club. Chivas has won eleven championships, America has twelve. Also, Chivas have three Cup wins and one CONCACAF (their Uefa) Championship.
Right now, Chivas is having a terrible time, because the owner of the club (Jorge Vergara) created the Chivas Channel (called ChivasTV). It is expensive, but if the fans don’t pay for ChivasTV, they can’t watch the local matches.
Jorge Vergara is the owner throughout the 21st century and Chivas has been champions just once during his tenure. This pissed off the fans (where have we seen this before?). The season before last, Chivas almost dropped to the second “category” (as the divisions are called in Mexico) but Matias Almeyda (the coach, and a former Argentine international) was able to save the team. Under Almeyda, Chivas actually won their first title, in 2015, and qualified for Copa Libertadores for the first time since 2012.
Chivas play in the Guadalajara City and Guadalajara is a very traditional City on the western side of Mexico. If you think about Guadalajara you can imagine “charros”, horses, tequila, mariachis, guns and Mexican songs. This traditionalism is partly responsible for Chivas promoting such a strong national identity that the team uses only Mexican players. This of course is a disadvantage, but a romantic style too.
Omar Bravo is the player who has scored the most goals for Chivas. Now he plays in USA, in NASL – the second division after the MLS, much like the Championship in England.
Chivas Stadium is one of the most modern in Mexico. The first match played there was Chivas vs Manchester United. “Chicharito” (who is actually one of the better players to have emerged from the club I would say, along with a certain Carlos Vela) played the first part of his career with Chivas and the second with the “Red Devils”.
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The match against Arsenal comes at a rather unfortunate time for Chivas. Last Friday, they lost 4-0 away to Tijuana in the Mexican League, and the Wednesday before that they lost 1-4 at home to Jaguares de Chiapas in the Mexican Cup. The journalists have been (as usual we might say) very quick to question the team and the coach.
Thanks a lot Francisco, there are a few similar aspects that one can see between the two clubs – and quite a few dissimilarities too.
There is an owner who can make a mess of things (we don’t have that). There is a coach that, after a long time of suffering, turned the club’s fortunes around and brought them back close to the top (we have that). There are fans who go against the club (don’t we know!), and there are journalists whose primary job is to say everyone should be fired (journalists seem to be all made of the same crop). No wonder Mr. Wenger thought they would be a good fit for us.
As for the match itself, we are “likely” (if the media is to be believed) to keep Akpom, Xhaka and a few others in the starting XI. I didn’t hear news of any injuries, which must mean we start with the second half of the Thursday’s game and finish with the first:
Bellerín Holding Chambers Monreal
Campbell Oxlade-Chamberlain Iwobi
Chivas haven’t said anything – even Francisco was unable to point to a possible starting formation. Maybe the turbulent times there are making this kind of predictions more difficult than usual. Expect though to hear of names like Carlos Salcido (the team captain), and Miguel Ponce.
As for me, I will bite the bullet this time and go to the match. Thank goodness it’s Sunday. A one day trip to L.A., which, if nothing dramatic happens, will make the subject of the third and final article of the series.
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