Chivas midfielder Fernando Beltran is adamant that Wednesday's quarterfinal first leg against Club America in Liga MX's clasico nacional is the biggest game of his career and is confident Guadalajara can pick up a positive result.
The Mexican top flight's greatest rivals lock horns in Chivas' Estadio Akron, with the hosts in the postseason for the first time since the 2017 Clausura and Club America the favorites heading into the series.
But for Beltran, the matches are a chance to show that Chivas is once again a contender after missing the playoffs in each of the past five seasons.
"It's the most important game of my career and I'm going to go all out, to leave everything out there and defend the shirt as you should," said Beltran in a video conference. "It's time to show what Chivas is made of and where the club has to be. It's a good opportunity for us, in spite of what we have gone through this season, to make an impact."
Club America coach Miguel Herrera's record against Chivas with Las Aguilas is positive, winning five and losing only once, although Beltran believes Chivas having Victor Manuel Vucetich -- nicknamed "King Midas" -- on the bench is a plus.
"They are different games. You need talent, heart and concentration," said Beltran. "We know that in one play we can score or concede.
"It's what we've talked a lot about, what coach Vucetich has most stressed to us and we trust a lot in him because of his career and because he's won everything."
"Piojo" Herrera has ribbed Chivas previously about not being regulars in the postseason, and Beltran thinks those words may come back to bite him.
"Piojo used to say that he never saw us here [in the postseason], well, now we're here and we'll see what happens on Wednesday and Saturday," he said.
America forward Giovani dos Santos is expected to start for Las Aguilas. And while he admitted the game is special, the Mexico City team's focus is on getting past Chivas and winning the title.
"At America, we know what playing a clasico means. It has a special taste. But to win a clasico in the playoffs doesn't guarantee a championship," said the former Barcelona player in a video conference. "At America, we know how important it is to win titles and that's our mindset, to take the first step now in Guadalajara, come back to the Azteca to win the quarters and then think of the following games."
Chivas will be without forward duo Alexis Vega and Jose Juan Macias, while Club America won't have Nico Castillo or Bruno Valdez, who are both on the long-term injury list.
Mexico's clasico nacional features the country's two most successful teams, with America on 13 leagues titles and all-Mexican side Chivas on 12.
The return leg is on Saturday at the Estadio Azteca.