Friday 20 July 2018, 16:45

Challenges aplenty await Guadalajara

  • New coach at the helm for Chivas

  • FIFA Club World Cup on the horizon

  • Goalscoring onus resting on Alan Pulido

With seven final appearances and five titles in less than three years, there is no denying that it has been an impressive few seasons for C.D. Guadalajara. That said, the first half of 2018 ended on a rather sour note for this giant of Mexican football.

After winning the CONCACAF Champions League in April to secure their place at the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2018, Chivas then finished second-bottom in the domestic league with a paltry 15 points from a possible 51.

The recent summer break ushered in a few important changes at the club as they look to fine tune performances ahead of their league, Copa MX and Club World Cup challenges over the next six months. takes a closer look at Chivas’ present situation.

Cardozo takes the reins After overseeing the success of recent seasons, Argentinian coach Matias Almeyda parted company with the club on 14 June. The man tasked with emulating him is Paraguayan Jose Saturnino Cardozo, himself no stranger to Mexican football.

His principle objective is to improve the team’s finishing – undoubtedly their Achilles’ heel of late. Despite carving out plenty of scoring chances, the players have been struggling to convert them, as evidenced in their last four games, when they failed to find the target even once.

As fortune would have it, Cardozo knows a thing or two about scoring, having set the record for most goals (29) in a short-format league campaign in Mexico. Unsurprisingly, there has been considerable emphasis on passing on his skills and knowledge of the striker’s art to his front men during pre-season.

Transfer market activity Also key next season will be how well the club’s new signings perform. With Guadalajara having let go of top players like keeper Rodolfo Cota, centre-back Oswaldo Alanis and striker Rodolfo Pizarro, the bar is high for those coming in. These include:

  • Raul Gudino, a silver medallist at the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013. Gudino will have to show that, despite being just 22, his stints playing in Portugal and Cyprus have given him the requisite goalkeeping maturity.

  • Josecarlos Van Rankin, one of the most consistent right-backs of recent seasons with Pumas. This will be his first spell away from the club where he was nurtured, so it remains to be seen if he can make a swift transition.

  • Angel Sepulveda, who is expected to be the main strike partner of Alan Pulido, the man who currently leads the line for the Rebaño Sagrado. Sepulveda, who has already been selected for Mexico, is a versatile forward with a lot of movement outside the area, in contrast to Pulido, who is more of a close-in predator.

Youthful bounty However, it is not all about new signings at Guadalajara. Known to have one of the best youth academies in Mexico, Cardozo could well turn to some of the numerous youngsters who would give anything for a chance of first-team football.

Any young players coming in will find themselves among experienced defenders like Jair Pereira and Carlos Salcido, two genuine dressing-room leaders. Jose Macias and Gael Sandoval, to name just two of the young crop, are a pair of attacked-minded players sure to make the most of any minutes given to them by the coach.