1. There Will Be Goals
I enjoy seeing quality defense. Low scoring matches can be extremely entertaining when good defensive play is what is keeping the ball out of the net.
These teams will not be featuring great defenses. They are, however, blessed with great scorers. A strong defense would have a difficult time keeping the score low against either of these clubs. If you can't have well-played defense you might as well have a goal-fest. The Santos strike force is so deep with goal scorers that I am reluctant to list them all. Suffice it to say, that Herculez Gomez can't always crack the starting lineup. Santos is second to none, but Chiapas might just be second. Their three Colmbian goal scorers, Franco Arizala, Luis Gabriel Rey, and Jackson Martinez, make Jaguares an ever-dangerous squad.
The first leg on Thursday night finished with seven goals. Neither Chiapas nor Santos showed any inclination to revolutionize their approach. I expect a very similar result in the second leg.
2. Still a Game
Yes, Santos took the win on Thursday. With an aggregate draw going to the higher seed, Santos, Jaguares will need to win by two goals in order to advance. Will it be a challenge to beat Santos by two goals in Torreon? Of course, it will be difficult for Chiapas. Jaguares' three goals yesterday could have easily been doubled if a few bounces went their way. In such a high scoring match, a two goal difference is not hard to come by. It would not be unthinkable for Jaguares to score a bunch of goals on Sunday and make a real game out of this.
3. Jackson Martinez
The dude is just fun to watch. Many players have a knack for finding the net. Martinez surely does. His ability is much more than that. He combines power and grace in a way that makes his play seem less sport and more art. Every time Martinez is near the ball, something dramatic appears to be in the works.
Jackson Martinez has all but packed his bags. He will not be playing for Chiapas or in Mexico at all next year. The rumors of a Liverpool move have gotten legs. If he does not end up joining the Reds this summer, he will surely be with some other European squad.
If you're a fan of Mexican soccer, this may be his last game in the Primera Division. If you're just a supporter of one of the bigger European teams, this may be your last chance to be in on the secret before the international footballing world knows a lot more about Martinez.
4. Curse of the Superlider
Sports curses are stupid. Whether they are team-centric (Red Sox, Cubs, Santos?), city-based (Cleveland, Minneapolis), or media fabrications (SI or Madden covers), they are sad explanations for underperformance or a regression to the mean. Playoffs are a total crapshoot. The best team doesn't always win. They are even more so when the regular season is so short, as it is in Mexico. The top seed could be the best team, but they also could have been on a hot streak. Chivas finished as the top seed last season. Does anyone want to argue that they were the best team? ( ... crickets ...) There is no curse associated with the top seeded team. It's been ten seasons since the top-seeded team won the championship. Yet, they are entering an elimination style tournament where they may or may not have a slight advantage. They may or may not be the best team. Like any of the other seven teams they will need to play well, avoid the red card slinging officials, and get some good luck.
That being said, Santos specifically have a Buffalo Bills situation brewing. Santos have been the runner-up in three of the last four seasons. They also just finished as runner-up to Monterrey in the CONCACAF Champions League. Are they simply unlucky or are they unable to perform in the "big game"? I would say there has been a good deal of both for Santos. We may get more answers this Sunday.
5. Saturday's Schedule
Saturday's matches aren't looking too hot. America took it to Pachuca in the first leg winning 3-1. Pachuca would need to win by three goals to advance. That is not going to happen. Monterrey took a significant advantage against Tijuana in the first leg, as well. Their 2 -1 win in Tijuana means that the Xolos would need to win by two in Monterrey on Saturday to advance. Unlikely. Yes, I argued earlier that Chiapas winning by two in Torreon was a possibility. But Chiapas scores goals ... Tijuana doesn't. The Xolos haven't scored three goals in a match all season. They won't be advancing past Monterrey.
With such useless games on Saturday, that really frees up your schedule. No need to be tied down with these. Head outside. Be social. Take care of all your responsibilities that come with being a good parent or spouse. Save your indoor, anti-social, "leave me alone, I'm watching the game" time for Sunday. This will be the match you don't want to miss.