Over the weekend we saw Madrid vs Barcelona in El Clasico. Tonight we get to see LAFC host the LA Galaxy in El Trafico, with playoff advancement on the line. The first meeting of the season was on April 9th and had an extremely controversial VAR intervention. Calling off a 99th minute LAFC game tying goal. The second match on July 8th saw LA come away victorious in a 3-2 match. I expect to see fireworks tonight in this rubber match with the winner heading to the Western Conference Finals. This is going to be phenomenal rivalry football and the steaks couldn’t be higher.
Obviously these two teams do not like each other. They share a city and a fanbase. This game tends to be very chippy and physical. The first match had ten yellow cards handed out. The second match was a bit cleaner with only five bookings. I expect the bar on what is and isn't a card to be a little higher tonight, because it is the playoffs. I think that is a good thing. I am a big believer in letting the lads play and having the game settled on the pitch rather than by the ref. That said, I think there will be times tonight that the ref has to go into his pocket just to keep control of the game. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the over on cards tonight.
For LAFC, the key piece offensively is going to be Cristian Arango. Arango leads LAFC in goals with 16 this year. He has been in a little bit of a slump coming into tonight’s match. Arango has failed to score in four straight matches. Luckily for LAFC fans, Arango has scored in the previous two head to heads with the Galaxy. LAFC is going to need him on the score sheet if they want to win this game. I don’t want to sound like a hater here, but something has to be mentioned. Bale was not a quality signing by LAFC. Bale’s best contribution to the team has been one outstanding free kick goal. He is constantly out of position, he doesn't hustle on plays, he doesn't defend, and his new slogan has to be “Wales/Golf/LAFC in that order” because he is somehow giving less effort then he did at Madrid. That said, if he gets an opportunity to go directly on net from a freekick, you might see something absolutely insane.
The LA Galaxy far exceeded my expectations in their game against Nashville. That was the Galaxy’s first clean sheet since July 30th. Puig seems to have been the missing piece for this team. He played all 90 minutes plus stoppage and is the driving force in the midfield. Puig is able to help organize both attack and defense. He distributes the ball well and is a capable finisher when needed. Chicharito had a goal ruled out by VAR last game. He also had a few nice runs that were ruled offside. Chicharito is going to have to play sharper tonight if he wants to help his team advance. Julian Araujo scored the Galaxy’s only goal vs Nashville and it was an absolutely beautiful header. However, that was Araujo’s first goal since the 2020 campaign, and I wouldn’t count on a repeat performance. The galaxy will need a minimum of two goals to advance in my opinion.
I think this game is going to extra time or PK’s, so I will be staying away from picking a 90 minute result. I won’t mind getting 120 minutes of play out of these teams. This match is going to be a banger!