MEXICO: The country braces itself for Sunday’s ‘el Superclasico’

Mexicos biggest derby is played this weekend when Club America visit Chivas Guadalajara at Estadio Omnilife.

Background

Chivas, also called “Los Cabros Rayados” (the goats), is the most-winning team in the country with 11 titles. Resident in the university city of Guadalajara, the side had it greatest period in the sixties, dominating the Mexican game winning seven of their eleven titles in that period. They usually played their home matches at Jalisco, known from the World Cup both in 1970 and 1986, when Brazil played most of their matches there. But now they receive visiting teams at the brand new Omnilife stadium, built in 2010 for the Panamerican Games in 2011. It was inaugurated with a 3-2 win over Manchester United, with former Chivas star Chicharito Hernandez scoring the first goal. Chivas, even having a sister club in the MSL, is known for its ability to produce talents, as well as fielding prominently home based players.

Club América is from the enourmous capital Mexico City, and uses the national stadium Azteka for their home matches. Contrary to their clasico rival, they have traditionally based their team around imports from South America. Las Aguilas are the second most successful club in the country with 10 titles, one less than Chivas. Their best period came during the eighties, winning five titles.

The encounters between these two giants became a classic in the 59-60 season. América visited the city of Guadalajara three times in a row, and beat Oro, Atlas and Chivas all by the score of 2-0. Americas president famously boasted after the last match against Chivas that – “..we didn’t come to Guadalajara to win. That is routine. We came to change the long distance number. Now, everybody who wants to call Guadalajara can dial 202020 (referring to the score lines) to reach someone there. Courtesy of América!”. Chivas replied to the insult by winning the next encounter in the capital by 2-0.

Lucha Libre

The derby intensified in the eighties, as the matches between them looked more like the other Mexican national sport, “Lucha Libre” (no rules wrestling). The sides met in the semifinal in the 82/83 season, with Chivas beating América 4-2 after several controversial decisions by the referee. It all ended in a brawl, resulting in a two-digit number of players being sent off. Chivas, decimated by red cards, lost the ensuing final. Next season, América came from behind to beat Chivas in the only final contested between them.

Then again in 1986, it happened again. Fernando Quirarte and Carlos Hermosillo, both idols for each team, clashed together in a fist fight, and was soon accompanied by the rest of their teammates. The referee subsequently sent off all 22 players, and suspended the match.

The summer of 1999 saw another incident. Chivas had just won 1-0 when Felipe de Jesús went over to América star Cuauthemoc Blanco to shake hands. Blanco answered by punching Jesús on the jaw, and the Chivas player retaliated with a fierce kick.

Blanco was also on the field during the Apertura match in 2006. Chivas were winning 2-1 when their winger Alonso Sandoval brought the ball with him towards the sideline, and started dancing in mockery. América’s Jose Castro showed what he thought about the moves with a karate kick that would have made Eric Cantona proud. Again it turned into a brawl, but this time it was broken up in time, so the match could be finished.

It came close to another as late as 2010, when Ámerica’s Jean Beausejour went in with a crushing tackle on Xabier Baez. The Chivas players surrounded the Chilean winger, who looked destined for a lynching. But again, the teams were divided in time. Beausejour almost seemed relieved to receive the red card afterwards.

Much to play for

Chivas is ninth in the table with 16 points, coming into the clasico with nine sthraight matches without a loss. Club América only accomplished a draw against bottom placed San Luis in their last league match, but still occupies third spot in the standings with 21 points, four shy of leaders Tigres with one match in hand.

The last superclasico ended 3-1 in favour of Chivas, which sacked their Dutch coach John van’t Schip, replacing him with club legend Benjamin Galindo.

The stats for these epic encounters are also even. Officially it’s tied 62-62 in wins. But taking into account all matches played between them, América leads 74 against Chivas’ 72, while 63 have ended in a draw.

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Pal Odergard

Click on the name above to follow Pal on Twitter

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