With Cruz Azul set tackle Membership America within the closing of the 2018 Liga MX Apertura, Tom Marshall takes a take a look at how La Maquina line up.
Gamers to watch
Cruz Azul’s cost to the ultimate hasn’t been outlined by one excellent star participant. It has been extra of a collective effort born out of self-sacrifice and shopping for into Pedro Caixinha’s taking part in fashion and concept.
That mentioned, Cruz Azul’s backbone has been completely essential. Goalkeeper Jesus Corona, center-back Pablo Aguilar, central midfielder Ivan Marcone and striker Milton Caraglio (when he is performed forward of Martin Cauteruccio) have supplied an skilled and dependable base for Caixinha, containing a heavy dose of management potential and consistency.
It is from, and maybe due to, that backbone that attacking gamers comparable to Elias Hernandez and Roberto Alvarado — who’ve garnered the headlines — have flourished. And when the chips have been down, like within the robust semifinal in opposition to Monterrey, it has been the skilled base that has responded by dragging the group over the road.
In what’s a tough closing for Cruz Azul in opposition to an America aspect undefeated in 15 Liga MX video games, the guts of La Maquina — Corona, Aguilar, Marcone and Caraglio — could have to get up and be counted.
Caixinha is meticulous in his coaching methodology and can go away no stone unturned in planning for Membership America. The Portuguese supervisor has stamped his authority on the Mexican sport like few European coaches within the trendy period. The fashion is far more about hitting on transitions than the extra conventional possession-based fashion seen in Mexico. The truth is, considered one of Cruz Azul’s weaknesses — uncovered by Monterrey — is that when a group does sit again, there is not a lot invention when La Maquina is given the ball.
In some ways, Caixinha is the other of America’s Miguel Herrera. He is far more intense, the calls for he makes on gamers are higher and the extent of element he goes into in coaching is larger than maybe another coach in Liga MX. It contrasts with Herrera’s easy-going, player-friendly strategy that seeks to get one of the best out of a group by getting the gamers onside.
However each have been among the many most profitable in Mexico over current years and have one factor very a lot in frequent: They’re explosive characters. Caixinha, like Herrera, is inclined to outbursts and you can wager he’ll be making an attempt to get inside his reverse quantity’s head. The battle on the touchline can be numerous enjoyable.
It is tough to see Caixinha opening up an excessive amount of within the first leg and his mentality can be seen when the team-sheet is launched. Will Jose Maduena or Julio “Cata” Dominguez, normally a center-back, play right-back? Will it’s the deeper-lying Javier Salas or the extra all-action Rafa Baca alongside Marcone in central midfield? And can it’s Cauteruccio or Caraglio up entrance?
The formation will very seemingly be Four-2-Three-1, though each side have the personnel to shift to a again 5 when required.
That is the X-factor that makes this explicit closing so particular. The query shouldn’t be a lot if can Cruz Azul defeat Membership America over two legs — La Maquina completed prime of the common season standings and is completely able to doing so. The actual query is that if Cruz Azul’s gamers can mentally put the 21-year drought and 5 Liga MX closing losses since 1997 to one aspect. And let’s not overlook that final time Cruz Azul reached the Liga MX closing within the 2013 Clausura, the group was 2-Zero up in opposition to 10-man America with two minutes to play and nonetheless managed to end runner-up after Las Aguilas goalkeeper Moises Munoz leveled the rating with seconds to go.
The indicators, nevertheless, are good this time round. Caixinha and the gamers have talked a very good sport all season and there’s even a sense that the group is having fun with taking over probably the most talked about title droughts in Mexican soccer.
However we’ll solely actually discover out when the sport kicks off and Cruz Azul is inside touching distance of that elusive trophy.