SAN DIEGO — For Guadalajara, beating Real Madrid in their Herbalife World Football Challenge match on Wednesday night would not only be a significant accomplishment, but it would also be the saving grace of what has been a sub-par preseason.
“The Real Madrid game signifies the close of the preseason, the close of a phase that sets a base for all that we do throughout our campaign,” said Chivas head coach José Luis Real during a press conference on Tuesday. “We’re obligated to put on a good show for our fans.”
Guadalajara’s preseason didn’t go at all as expected. Out of six games, los Rojiblancos tied three and dropped three, the last one being a 2-0 loss to Querétaro.
Despite the stumbles, Guadalajara feel they’ve prepared well throughout the preseason and are fit and ready to kick off their 2011 Apertura campaign on Saturday. On top of that, the team will be uplifted by the fact that a handful of players on duty with Mexico’s Copa América squad are back, as are four of Mexico’s U-17 World Cup winning squad.
“I think the team’s in form,” said forward Omar Arellano on Monday. “We’ve had a good preseason. We trained at the beach, in the mountains, we had important matches to prepare and I think the team looks good. I think the team’s motivated and anxious to begin the new tournament and remove that thorn of only reaching the semifinals last season.”
Before Chivas can turn their attention to their season opener against Atlante, though, they know they have to focus on the task at hand: a matchup against Real Madrid on Wednesday (11 pm ET, ESPN2/Deportes) and the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaká, Iker Casillas and a bevy of top-notch talent coming off a 4-1 win against the LA Galaxy on Saturday.
“We know the quality of their players,” Arellano said of Real Madrid. “You don’t get to play these types of games a lot and we’re going to give it our all and enjoy this match. That’s what we have to do. Obviously we don’t like losing [either]. We have to always try to win and, of course, we’re going for the victory.”
Added defender Jonny Magallón: “We don’t have the pressure of getting a result, but we do have the obligation of playing a good game and looking for the win despite having a tough rival with top-level players. But in your career, these are the types of games you enjoy.”