Saturday, March 1, 2008

Already taking its toll?

Mexican teams have long had success in Copa Libertadores. I believe only one Mexican side has failed to get out of the first round in the last six years or something. I'll have to double-check that statistic but more often than not all the Mexican teams get out of the first round. Winning it is obviously a different story...

But Mexican clubs traditionally struggle while trying to compete in both tournaments. America won the league and reached the Copa semifinals in 2002 but that was pretty much unprecedented. Well, Chivas almost did the same but reached the final in the Clausura 2006 and the Copa semifinals that year as well but walked away without silverware.

Anyway, the double tournaments take their toll on Mexican clubs. It's almost like, what tournament should they focus on?

This year, both tournaments have obviously plenty left to play. League has reached the eight week while some clubs have played only one Copa game. But America is off to a slow start in Copa and its affects may have carried over into league.

America lost to Atlas 1-0 on Feb. 16, a result that cost Daniel "Ruso" Brailovsky his job. Ruben Omar Romano stepped in and promptly guided his new club to a 2-0 win over Universidad Catolica in the first Copa game. But the momentum did not carry over into league as Santos handed America a 1-0 loss in Azteca on the weekend.

America went down to Argentina and lost a gut-wrenching match to River Plate by 2-1, a result that could have gone las Aguilas' way. Then, America followed it up with a 3-0 loss at Tigres.

Now, America has plenty of time left in both campaigns to do damage. They are in the cellar of Group 2 in league but it's nothing a pair of wins wouldn't help overcome. In Copa, if America wins its remaining two home games and pulls out a point from its remaining two road games, that should be enough to get past the first round.

But the question is, is this L-W-L-L-L a trend or a sign of things to come?

The respective Guadalajara teams will have huge tests this week. Chivas, who tied 0-0 at Cruz Azul on Saturday, will play at Santos of Brazil on Tuesday while Atlas visits Boca Juniors on Thursday. Then, it's home to Toluca and at Jaguares respectively before home Copa games midweek.

In some ways, Copa Libertadores is a blessing - the chance of playing top South American sides and the potential for making history is important. But in others, it's a bit of a burden, one that America is not handling well at this moment.

1 comment:

Nick said...

Luis,

This is not a Mexico-specific problem. All the clubs in Libertadores face this issue. If anything, with their resources, Mexican clubs should be able to acquire more depth and be better prepared for this 2 tournaments at once challenge than their South American counterparts.
For the teams in South America that don't have Mexico's financial resources, it truly is a a choice of prioritizing Libertadores over the local championship, which is evidenced by the small number of teams that actually one their league during the same season that they won Libertadores. Only the giants--Boca, Sao Paulo, River--have the depth available to achieve it, and even they rarely do. But the Mexican teams, like the giants, do not have this excuse in my mind because they have the ability to adequately compensate for this issue with their incredible resources--particularly a team like America. Thus, if America truly finds themself in the predicament as you describe, it is their own fault in my opinion.