Matías Almeyda’s stock on the rise as Chivas lift CONCACAF Champions League

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A dramatic penalty shootout win over Toronto FC handed Chivas the CONCACAF Champions League title on Wednesday night and Matías Almeyda, a fifth trophy in less than three years.

Relatively unknown in Mexico when arriving in Guadalajara in September 2015, Matías Almeyda’s bold claims that we would wake up the giant looked somewhat ill-advised. Chivas were in relegation danger and the thought of recapturing titles was someway off but Almeyda has backed up his words and with the CONCACAF Champions League triumph, the 44-year-old goes down as one of the historic clubs most successful managers.

Toronto managed to equal the aggregate score in Guadalajara with a 2-1 win after 90 minutes but Michael Bradley’s missed penalty saw Chivas continue Mexico’s dominance in the Champions League and book their place at the Club World Cup.

Prior to that, Chivas must secure Almeyda’s future with the Argentine coach saying: “I need to visit my family, my grandma — who is ill in Argentina — and my sisters, but before that, I will talk to the directors calmly.”

Almeyda certainly won’t be short of options after adding the Champions League title to the Liga MX, two Copa MXs and Supercopa MX already won in his short period in Mexico and whether or not the Rojiblancos do manage to keep hold of their talismanic coach, Almeyda’s future appears to be in Europe.

Linked with Leicester City, Alaves and even the Chilean national team post, rumours of Almeyda’s departure have already been rife and Chivas will be aware that that day is likely drawing closer.

Watching former Argentina teammates, Diego Simeone and Mauricio Pochettino, earn such praise in Europe, Almeyda will be keen to test himself alongside the best coaches in world football.

Guiding River Plate back to the top flight immediately after his retirement and the club’s humiliating relegation was a task that was never likely to demand much credit and so Almeyda’s start to his managerial life was tough.

Banfield provided a better example of the vibrant, attacking football that Almeyda could produce with a set of young players but reliant on loan players and with a limited budget it was difficult to see how far the project could go.

The jury was still out when Chivas took a chance on El Pelado but that dynamic, forward thinking football has yielded immediate success, far beyond what was probably imagined.

The influence of former Argentina manager Marcelo Bielsa is clear, as it is under so many of those to have played or worked under him, but Almeyda has also shown astute variety and proved to be an excellent motivator.

The Club World Cup provides another test if Almeyda remains in Guadalajara until the end of the year but it will not be long before the quota of Argentine coaches in Europe gets another addition.

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