Chivas' Raul Gudino impresses in Clasico but America still the better club
Chivas tied 1-1 against Club America in Estadio Azteca on Sunday and celebrated the point as if it was a victory.
"When you are hungry, a tortilla with salt on it tastes glorious," was the barb one Mexican commentator aimed at Chivas for cheering the draw in Liga MX's Clasico Nacional.
Club America was left with a bitter taste when Guadalajara's goalkeeper Raul Gudino saved a last-gasp penalty from Colombian Mateus Uribe, just as it looked as if Las Aguilas' late pressure was going to pay off.
The truth is that neither America nor Chivas really impressed on Sunday, but there were still conclusions to be made as the two rivals split the points. Here are five:
America the better team and nearer the title
It was easy to forget on Sunday that it is Chivas who have had the brighter last couple of years, with Matias Almeyda's reign in charge bringing the 2017 Clausura title and the 2018 CONCACAF Champions League.
This season so far has seen America reassert itself as the protagonist in this rivalry and that was reflected during Sunday's game, putting the result to one side. The hosts were the better team over the 90 minutes, shading possession and creating the better scoring situations, although there weren't actually many good chances for either side.
Chivas played a much more defensive game than usual in a 5-2-3 formation and sat deep, while America went on the front foot.
"Don't tell me Chivas were trying [to attack] when we were the superior team," complained America coach Miguel Herrera afterwards. "We were better than them."
There was some exceptional last-ditch defending from Jair Pereira and Gudino's late penalty save rescued a point. TV replays also showed Chivas' goal should've been disallowed for offside, which Herrera wasn't happy about.
Moving forward, only one of these teams look like having a genuine shot on the title and that is America. Herrera was able to bring someone like equalizing goal-scorer Andre Ibarguen off the bench and even with Edson Alvarez suspended and Diego Lainez and Jeremy Menez out through injury, this America team is comfortably in the top five in the league.
And it shouldn't be forgotten that America would've moved top of the 2018 Apertura table with a victory. Chivas had Orbelin Pineda and Eduardo "Chofis" Lopez out, but are a much weaker unit that they were in the championship-winning 2017 Clausura.
That differential in quality and experience was especially evident than in central midfield, where Guido Rodriguez -- a player who has been called up previously by Argentina -- and Mateus Uribe (a regular for Colombia) faced off against 20-year-old Alan Cervantes and 22-year-old Fernando Beltran -- who had started a total of 12 Liga MX games between them before Sunday.
America's aim has to be the title this Apertura, whereas making the playoffs this season for Chivas would be an achievement in itself, given the problems in the preseason.
Herrera still has work to do
America may have been the better side, but they will have to iron out some issues if they are to get close to the title. It's been a difficult week after the Copa MX loss to second division side FC Juarez on Tuesday, on penalties, and next weekend's trip to Tigres certainly won't be easy.
Herrera has also tripped himself up of late. He said on Tuesday that it was a mistake to let youngsters take penalties in the shoot-out against Juarez and after the Chivas draw stated he had no idea why Uribe took the penalty given there are set takers at the club. As head coach, he should have that answer.
And for all the pressure against Chivas, there were few clear chances to show for it, with the Oribe Peralta-Roger Martinez partnership not yet fully clicking.
Gudino emerges as future national team candidate
The penalty save was the icing on the cake for Gudino. It gave the 22-year-old goalkeeper the headlines and the main photo in the morning newspapers. But it wasn't the most outstanding part of Gudino's afternoon.
What really caught the eye from Gudino was how assured he was in his first Clasico in front of 69,486 at Estadio Azteca. He looked at ease with the occasion.
There had been some doubts about him coming back to Chivas from Porto given his lack of first division football, but on Sunday he showed he has the technical ability and temperament to be a future Mexico international.
Cardozo deserves praise
Paraguayan Jose Cardozo didn't have it easy when he came into all-Mexican Chivas to replace Almeyda as manager last summer. The players were restless, key figures like Rodolfo Pizarro, Oswaldo Alanis and Rodolfo Cota had moved on and the atmosphere around the club was sour. All that wasn't helped by Chivas earning only one point from their first four games of the Apertura.
But Cardozo deserves credit for bringing the squad together and picking up a result on Sunday. It wasn't a great performance, the innovative formation didn't convince and some of the passing was poor at times, but there was no shortage of effort.
The penalty save will have given Los Rojiblancos a boost and upcoming games against Pumas, Lobos BUAP, Morelia, Puebla and Leon offer the strong possibility of a playoff push.
Chivas' Pulido dilemma
Chivas' Alan Pulido remains an enigma and perhaps the key figure in Guadalajara getting the best out of the rest of the Apertura.
On Sunday, Pulido had completed only three passes by half-time and had only 29 touches of the ball over the 90 minutes. Crucially, he did net the opening goal after the break.
But it was a strange performance in almost a false left-wing role. Pulido didn't get the service required, but he's not contributing with the same quality that saw him score twice in the 2017 Clausura final against Tigres. Since that series, he's netted only six league goals over 1,368 minutes, although admittedly injuries have taken their toll.
At times, it's also difficult to work out whether it is Pulido who wants to drop back and play deeper roles, or his managers that instruct him to move there. What's certain is that his style has changed from his early days at Tigres.
Whatever it is, Cardozo desperately needs Pulido to build on his Clasico goal and crescendo as we reach the business end of the season.