Saprissa gearing up for Alajuelense showdown

Saprissa (pictured) gathers together after drawing with the host Portland Timbers in a Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League match on October 19, 2016, in Portland, Oregon. (Photo: Mexsport)

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – Saprissa (11W-4D-3L, 37 points) regained first place in the 2016 Costa Rican Invierno thanks to a combination of its 2-0 win over visiting Santos and previous table-topper Herediano’s 2-2 draw at UCR in a pair of matches played Sunday.

The result capped a fruitful week, which also included advancement to the 2016/17 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions quarterfinals after a 1-1 draw against the host Portland Timbers earned the Monstruo Morado the Group B title.

That current feeling of optimism will be tested on Saturday, when rival Alajuelense (9-3-6, 30) travels to the Estadio Ricardo Saprissa. The host will be looking to win two consecutive domestic games for the first time since defeating Perez Zeledon (4-0) and Municipal Liberia (4-1) on August 28 and September 11, respectively.

“We have an enormous respect for Liga,” Saprissa head coach Carlos Watson said about Alajuelense. “It is a special match where we need a full stadium because it is the ideal index for this match. In saying that, we have respect for them. We do not have to attack them. We want to beat them.”

Their earlier meeting this season ended in a 2-1 triumph for Saprissa in Alajuela, with Rolando Blackburn and Daniel Colindres providing the firepower. The Manudos made it 1-1 through Christopher Meneses in the 24th minute.

When asked how to overcome Alajuelense, Watson said: “We are going to prepare ourselves and we are going to be intense in order to beat Liga. The key will be to play well and make as few mistakes as possible.”

That formula has proven to be a winning one during the second half of 2016.