El Trafico. Meet the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs.
LAFC and the LA Galaxy will face off at Banc of California Stadium on Thursday night in the Western Conference Semifinals (10:30 pm ET | ESPN, ESPN Deportes in US; TSN4, TVAS in Canada) with a spot in the Conference Finals on the line. A win for the Black & Gold would be their first against their rivals, with the Galaxy taking two of the previous five matchups — as three ended in draws.
While the Galaxy have had the upper hand in the series so far, it's clear that LAFC are the favorites heading into Thursday night. Bob Bradley's team had the most points in MLS history during the regular season and the numbers tell a pretty stark story between the two L.A. clubs.
2019 stats provided by Opta
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|Expected Goals Against||39.84||66.07|
|Duel Success Rate||50.87%||52.59%|
|Set-piece Goals Against||4||6|
So how did the Galaxy get four points over two matches against LAFC? It's not easily explainable looking at any data. LAFC won the xG battle in both matches (at LA: 1.94-.91; at LAFC: 3.80-1.39). The Galaxy dominated 50-50's in the first halves of each of the games this year, winning 55% in their 3-2 win at home and a whopping 63% in their 3-3 draw at LAFC. Outside of that, LAFC dominated in many of the categories above.
In five career matches against LAFC, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has eight goals. Those have come despite a total xG of 3.15, meaning you would have expected him to score about 3 goals on average based on the quality of his chances. For his team to get another playoff win, he will likely need to produce more results like that against his favorite foe.
For more analysis heading into El Trafico, go and read Matt Doyle and Bobby Warshaw's preview.