Chivas beats Puebla to move into Clausura Liguilla contention
PUEBLA, Mexico -- In front of 45,527 fans, Chivas got three important points in a convincing 3-0 win over Puebla. The win leaves El Rebano with 18 points, putting the team right in the mix of the Liguilla race.
Puebla's second consecutive loss is a blow to the team's playoff chances. Carlos Cisneros, Angel Zaldivar and Omar Bravo scored the goals for Chivas on Sunday afternoon. Here are three takes from the newly renovated Estadio Cuauhtemoc.
1. Almeyda, Chivas enjoying current run
Carlos Cisneros' long-range shot to open up the scoring at Estadio Cuauhtemoc was the icing on the cake after an electrifying Chivas start. Puebla was unable to get a touch on the ball, while all of Chivas 10 field players featured as it moved the ball from the defensive end to Puebla's territory.
Orbelin Pineda moved into the midfield with ease, while Isaac Brizuela easily sprinted away from his marking on the right-flank. Chivas dominated the first 45 minutes and could have taken a more comfortable lead into halftime.
After five months as Chivas head coach, Matias Almeyda seems to have nailed down an XI that is able to create the style of football he envisions. Even though Almeyda was a tough defensive midfielder, who played his best football at Serie A's Lazio, his ideas are highly offensive, ideal for footballers such as Brizuela, Carlos "Gullit" Pena, Pineda, and Cisneros, who only look ahead when they have the ball on their feet.
When Almeyda came from Argentina, that was what Chivas owner, Jorge Vergara had in mind, and now with four games left until the end of the 2016 Clausura regular season, the patience and support to Almeyda's football philosophy is paying dividends.
"Almeyda told us that weeks ago everyone had us as a team involved in the relegation race, and now everything has changed. We hope to stay on the same path," Cisneros said in the mixed zone.
Meanwhile center-back Carlos Salcedo added that inside the team there has always been total support for Almeyda's ideas, and that his coaching has helped the team immensely. Not only is Almeyda's Chivas enjoying themselves in the attack, but in defense, the team has become the second best in the league led by Salcedo, Jair Pereira, Jesus "Chapo" Sanchez and Edwin "Aris" Hernandez.
"As each game goes by, we've been able to find that regularity that we have deserved, so we don't want to stop," Salcedo said about Chivas's current defensive unit.
Almeyda walked out Estadio Cuauhtemoc with a smile. After Chivas' win over Puebla, he has seen his team extend its unbeaten streak to three games and will hope to extend it to four after next Saturday's Clasico Tapatio vs. Atlas.
2. Isaac Brizuela seizing the moment
Brizuela was one of the few players in the last Mexico call-up who didn't get playing time from manager Juan Carlos Osorio. When he returned to Chivas, the fear was that he had lost confidence, but it hasn't been the case. After his time with Mexico's national team, his game has elevated to the point of once again becoming that lethal right-winger who can drive Liga MX defenses crazy.
What makes Brizuela stand out is his ability to guard the ball; he rarely gives it away. Against Puebla his protection and distribution helped Chivas get an easy 3-0 win at Puebla.
On Chivas' second goal, scored by Angel Zaldivar, Brizuela conducted the ball from midfield and close to the periphery of the box, he dished out an assist to the young striker. Zaldivar only had to tuck it past goalkeeper Fabian Villasenor to score his first goal in the Clausura.
Brizuela's performances have been key in Chivas' last three Liga MX wins, which have included 10 goals scored and only one conceded. As a winger, he's become Chivas' most dangerous attacking generator, and if he continues on the same page, Osorio might hand him that coveted call-up to the Copa America Centenario.
3. Puebla gives nightmarish performance at home
Puebla's game against Chivas was one of the most deplorable in the Pablo Marini era. Los Camoteros did very little in trying to make it look like there were actually two teams on the field, not just one.
Its defeat to Chivas prolongs the Guadalajara team's dominance over Puebla. The last time Puebla was able to defeat Chivas at home was in 2008, and since then Chivas has snatched four Liga MX wins, and three draws when visiting the southern Mexican state.
Puebla finished the game with nine men on the pitch after Patricio Araujo and Matias Alustiza saw the red card. Its loss against Chivas was the second in a row for Puebla, who have allowed in five goals and scored zero in those 180 minutes. Next up for La Franja is a trip to Guanajuato play against Leon at Nou Camp.
Nayib Moran covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @nayibmoran.