Friday, March 6, 2015

No Fiesta Mexicana

The most South American of all South American countries is going to be the focus of this blog entry. Mexico has two clubs in the competition, and both of them played this week with attractive opponents, while being the outsiders themselves. Is it possible that at least one of them surprises? Read and find out.

On Wednesday evening, Atlas Guadalajara visited Chile, to be exact the before-mentioned Colo-Colo, who were excellent hosts with a nearly full stadium offering a frenetic atmosphere. The game started with the guests from Mexico on the front foot, who had eight shots in the first half alone. But all those attempts went for nothing, it remained 0-0 at halftime.

Colo-Colo countered with a strong second, holding the Mexicans to a minor amount of just one shot in the second half, while getting more opportunities themselves. Led by Humberto Suazo and Esteban Paredes, the Chileans forced Atlas back into a defensive mode, which inevitably led to the first goal. Jaime Valdés was pushed in the back from behind, the referee did not have much other choice than to give a penalty. Paredes provided a cool finish, 1-0. Twelve minutes later (82’), Atlas’ centre back Walter Kannemann got sent off for a second yellow card. Down to ten men and trying to find an equalizer, the grass was mown for Paredes to find a second goal in the last minute, tapping in an easy counter attack goal.


A day later, UANL Tigres came to Argentina to play a difficult game away at River Plate in Buenos Aires. Or was it going to be that difficult? Tigres started into the group with a 3-0 home win against Juan Aurich, while River lost 0-2 at Club San José.

River started the game on the front foot, as you would expect, creating a lot of chances against the Mexican side. Unfortunately for the Argentinians, they led to nothing, instead Joffre Guerrón gave the visitors a surprising lead in the 40th minute, leaving behind Chiarini to score the opening goal with a cool finish. Would there be something to celebrate for the Central American country after all?

You guessed the answer: no. It took until the 72nd minute, until the magnificent Carlos Sánchez, who ended up with six shots alone, put home an absolutely outstanding volley goal, for which alone you should watch the video highlights below. In addition, it made for an exciting end to the game. Both teams did not find the back of the net anymore though, and despite a 21-6 shot advantage for River Plate, the game ended in a draw. Tigres can mainly thank their goalkeeper, Nahuel Guzmán, for a point out of this game.

All in all, the bottom line of this week? No Fiesta Mexicana. Both, Atlas and Tigres, showed some good approaches, but were beaten or outplayed by teams that played better when it mattered and could build on their strong home support. Atlas Guadalajara now sits in third place in group 1, three points behind Santa Fe and Colo-Colo. Group 6 is lead by Tigres who have 4 points, and therefore one more than Club San José and Juan Aurich. River Plate sit last with just the one point from last night’s game. This is a good setup for more exciting games in the fight for the round of 16.


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