Action from the Clausura regular season game between Municipal (red) and Comunicaciones on April 27, 2014. (Photo courtesy of Municipal)
GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala – When rivals Municipal and Comunicaciones square off Thursday for the 279th time in the first leg of the Guatemalan Clausura final, one will be looking for an awaited return to the summit, while the other attempts to continue an extraordinary run.
Municipal owns the record for most domestic titles at 29, but hasn’t lifted the trophy since the 2011 Apertura. It was an up-and-down campaign for the Rojos, who endured a pair of four-game winless streaks to enter the playoffs as the seventh seed.
Despite that earlier inconsistency, Municipal is unbeaten in the post-season, registering two wins over Suchitepequez in quarterfinals (4-1 home, 1-0 away) and overcoming top-seeded Heredia in the semifinals on the away-goals rule following two draws (1-1 home, 3-3 away).
The in-season addition of former Guatemala international Carlos Ruiz certainly helped to lift Municipal’s fortunes and spirits. The 34-year-old netted five goals during league play and has added three more in the playoffs.
His strike partner – Honduran Darwin Oliva – has been impressive form as well with nine goals in total, including four following the regular season’s completion.
With a fourth straight title in sight, Comunicaciones has won each of its four playoff encounters by a combined score of 6-1.
The balanced Cremas did not have a single player finish among the top 17 on the regular-season scoring list. They did have, however, have six players score three-five goals, which makes them difficult to defend. In keeping with that trend, Comunicaciones’ six post-season goals have been tallied by five different players.
Although his team has experienced so much success in the last few years, Comunicaciones head coach Ivan Sopegno is convinced that the hunger for more remains strong.
“We are not settling,” said Sopegno. “We want more. We know that the opponent is strong and has been at these stages before as well.”
Municipal and Comunicaciones played to scoreless draws in their two meetings this season.
NOTES: The first leg will be played behind closed doors at the Estadio Mateo Flores Stadium in Guatemala City … Comunicaciones and Municipal shared the best defensive record during the regular season, conceding only 19 goals each in 22 games … Both sides have already places in the 2014-15 CONCACAF Champions League.