Despite the fact that they struggled enough to fire their manager mid-season, Chivas Guadalajara were able to finish in first place in the 2011 Apertura. They head into Liguilla hoping to avoid the 'Superlider Curse', and it would be stunning if they didn't do it for at least one round. Queretaro are in Liguilla for the first time in their history, and despite their eighth place finish, they will still be relegation-threatened in the next tournament.
Queretaro's biggest star is by far Carlos Bueno, their Uruguayan international striker. After scoring nine goals in his debut season for the Gallos Blancos last spring, he scored another 10 in the 2011 Apertura, guiding an inexpensive team built from spare parts to Liguilla.
They were hilariously fired into the playoffs by former Mexican international 'Bofo' Adolfo Bautista. Despite the fact that he's scored over 100 goals in the Primera and represented El Tri 37 times, he went over 600 days without finding the net. He scored the winner in the final league game of the season, his first goal for his new club. Now he will be attempting to knock out Chivas, a team he made over 150 league appearances for over two separate spells with the club.
Chivas will be without starting goalkeeper Luis Michel, who was sent off on the final day of the season for an absurd challenge on Pachuca's Javier Muñoz Mustafa. Backup goalkeeper Victor Hugo Hernandez lacks big game experience, but he will have arguably the most talented defense in Mexico in front of him.
Up front, Chivas are also loaded with talent. 'Cubo' Erick Torres will likely start up top by himself, and he's in spectacular form. He's been fantastic since returning from the U-20 World Cup, where he represented Mexico, scoring five goals in the season's final five games. Behind him will be budding star Marco Fabian, who made a name for himself outside of Mexico this summer when he destroyed Barcelona in a friendly match in the United States. The budding Mexican star has eight goals from midfield in 17 appearances this season, an incredible tally considering that he was inconceivably moved back out to the wing for a period of time.
The first leg is in Queretaro, and the home side are going to need a win to keep this tie alive, due to the tiebreaker which goes to the higher seed. If Chivas go to the Estadio Omnilife with a win or a draw, it will be a virtual certainty that they're going to be able to advance to the next round. Even in a league as crazy as the Mexican Primera, Queretaro probably can't reverse a bad result on Saturday night.
Queretaro vs. Chivas kicks off at 6:00 pm ET and can be seen on Univision in the USA. We'll have live coverage of this and every Liguilla match this weekend in our Mexican Primera, 2011 Apertura Liguilla Quarterfinals StoryStream. For more on the two teams and Mexican football in general, check out SB Nation's Mexican futbol blog FMF State Of Mind.