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Paunovic: “Liga MX teams could hold their own against major European sides”

The Chivas de Guadalajara head coach was speaking on the eve of the Clasico Nacional as he takes his side to CDMX to face América.


The biggest club game in Mexican football is set for Saturday night at the Estadio Azteca as Chivas face Club América with both sides having started the season well following disappointing showings in the recent Leagues Cup competition.

Chivas coach Veljko Paunovic now in his second term in charge of the ‘Sacred Flock’ spoke to Mexican outlet Record and focused on the competitive level of the domestic Mexican league.

In his time Paunovic played in his native Serbia, Spain, Germany, Russia and ended up in MLS with Philadelphia Union. As a manager, the 46-year-old has had spells with Serbia’s U21 team, Chicago Fire, English side Reading before the move to Guadalajara so is in a solid position to offer objective insight on other competitions.

Paunovic: “I think Mexican club teams could hold their own in any top five of the major European leagues as they are all very competitive. The truth is that there is no easy match, there is not a day when we go out onto the pitch and we are not worried about what our opponents can offer us. The league has a lot of foreign coaches, Mexican coaches and the standard is very good. Every team poses questions in every match and there are no easy games here”.

Veljko Paunovic durante un partido de Chivas en la Leagues Cup.
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Veljko Paunovic Jose Luis Melgarejo

On being asked about the mentality of Mexican players, the Serbian observed: “So much of football is about mentality and the consistency. And I think this, this is also changing and improving, but is there room for improvement”

Paunovic on el Clasico Nacional

“Well the truth is that the rivalry is tremendous, it is passionate, something that we felt in all the games we played last year, but especially in the semi-final (of the Clausura 2023), in the second leg at the Azteca. Winning the tie delivered a joy similar to that when we beat Brazil in the U20 World Cup final with Serbia. It was a powerful experience and delivered to much emotion and certaibly left a significant impact on me.

Chivas beat América
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Chivas beat AméricaIsaac EsquivelEFE

It was truly powerful and this is a non-Mexican speaking and to be able to feel that level of emotion, it really made me realise how special and unique this rivalry is”.