Atlas vs Chivas

Trip Start Aug 31, 2009
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Trip End Aug 31, 2010


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Where I stayed
Estadio Jalisco

Flag of Mexico  , Central Mexico and Gulf Coast,
Saturday, November 7, 2009

This weekend I finally got round to seeing some live football in Mexico. I'd been meaning to go for ages but in the end this was a game worth waiting for: "El Clasico" - the local derby between Guadalajara's two biggest teams, Atlas and Chivas. I went with Isobel and Oswaldo, one of our Mexican friends who had taken us to Lake Chapala a few weeks ago.

Estadio Jalisco is a really impressive 70,000 capacity stadium,almost twice the size of what I'm accustomed to at White Hart Lane. Both teams share the stadium but fortunately we opted to sit with the Chivas fans who heavily outnumbered their local rivals.

The first half was one of the most unbelievable 45 minutes of football I've ever seen. Within seconds Chivas had scored, as one of their strikers was played through from kick-off and finished with a deft lob. Naturally the place went mad as the Chivas fans revelled in getting one up on their adversaries so early on. Then, barely a minute later Chivas doubled their lead with their second attack of the game. It was the fastest two goals I had seen since... well, since Arsenal scored twice in 11 seconds against us last week.

This quick pace was maintained throughout the entire first half: Atlas pulled one back after about 10 minutes, before conceding twice more to make it 4-1 before it was even half time! Chivas' third goal came from a rare indirect free kick inside the penalty area, after dangerous play from an Atlas defender. I managed to capture the goal along with the ensuing celebrations on video, which partly conveys a sense of the incredible atmosphere inside the stadium.

Inevitably the second half failed to live up to the opening onslaught; it was something of an anticlimax as Chivas seemed content to defend their lead whilst occasionally pushing for the elusive fifth goal. The style of football here is pretty different from what you see in England. The players tend to dribble more and its not as physical as the average Premier League encounter. Furthermore, if this display was anything to go by, Mexican teams have no idea how to defend properly. There could have been another five goals in it, and Alan Hansen would have had a stroke if he'd witnessed some of the Atlas "defending".

Throughout the game the crowd was singing and hurling insults just as they would in England, but there was also a typically Latin American carnival atmosphere inside the stadium. This spilled out into the streets after the final whistle, with everyone jumping and chanting in a giant fiesta. Obviously none of the Atlas fans joined in, but there was no sense of danger and you could never imagine a Milwall/West Ham type scenario developing.

Although the standard of football was never quite as good as what you would see in Europe, it was an extremely open and entertaining game, with a great atmosphere. At about 10 a ticket it was also a hell of a lot cheaper than the Prem, so no doubt I'll be coming back for more during my time here. 
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