Week ten presents plenty of interest in Liga MX. Nothing quite as fascinating as what’s been going on in the Ascenso, but still pretty good.
Look Out For This: El Clasico
I could be that guy; being the contrarian comes naturally to me. I could tell you that the America-Chivas match will be a letdown and that the real match to watch is some other much more under-the-radar fixture. There would just be a fair amount of dishonesty in that. The clasico is the match to see.
The hype is out of control. The level of play doesn’t always impress. This “big two” is rarely close to the best two. Yet, there is no doubt that these are indeed the two biggest clubs in Mexico. The massive support behind each of these clubs dwarfs other followings. When so many are invested in the result of one match, it demands attention.
Club America has a fair share of momentum heading in to this clash in the Azteca. In their last ten fixtures, in all competitions, they have amassed 25 goals while only conceding three. They are blowing through opponents and setting themselves up for another title push. Despite the rocky start, Ignacio Ambriz now appears to have the support of the demanding fan base. Along with Tigres, America are the favorites to come out on top at the end of the Liguilla.
As expected by everyone outside of the Vergara household, things haven’t been running so smoothly over in Guadalajara. Chepo is once again fuera. In keeping with tradition, Chivas replaced their manager after a few tough results. The threat of relegation, although minor, still looms.
With the installation of Matias Almeyda hope is once again renewed. One would assume the hope well would be barren by now, but apparently it springs eternal – even at Chivas. Almeyda has a win over Queretaro and another over Morelia in the Copa in his first two matches with the club. This invariably spills in to the same cycle always in place. Every result is hyper-examined and used as a referendum on the coaching acumen and merits of each of its high-profile players. A few good results and the team is perfect and its coach a legend. A few loses and the manager is looking for a new job.
One benefit to the viewer is the knowledge that the result of this match will mean as much, if not more, to the men on the field and sideline than the fanatics in the stands. America will not want to be embarrassed by this Chivas squad. Everyone at Chivas is playing for their job. This is truly appointment viewing.
Look Away From This: The loser in the loser goes home match
There’s a whole collection of teams that could be pinpointed in the conversation of the most disappointing seasons to date. Cruz Azul have spent a surprising amount of time in the depths of the table. The Vucetich-led Gallos haven’t played to their potential. Monterrey continue to drop winnable points. The championship hangover has seemingly incapacitated Santos. Pachuca’s results are in complete contrast to the team’s prior trajectory. There’s plenty of woe to go around.
This weekend’s match at the Estadio Hidalgo between Pachuca and Santos has all the making of a ‘loser goes home’ match. Both desperately need a win and providing the play of their opposition, it’s a winnable match for each. Neither seem ready to make a playoff run at the moment, but in fairness Santos didn’t look likely to do so last season either. A win for either side could start some momentum heading in to the stretch run of the Apertura. The loser …. well, just look away.
Random Prediction Time: Goya time
The other match to watch this weekend is clearly on Sunday when Tigres visit the CU. It’s easy to question the merits of Pumas’ current standing after their slip-up last week with Cruz Azul. With their recent ups and downs, they’ve not yet earned the benefit of the doubt. Pumas will need to put up more big wins to prove their place among the other title contenders. The Tigres juggernaut coming in to town gives them exactly that type of opportunity. While, Pumas are obviously not the equal of Tigres at this moment, they do have enough scrap in them to get a win in front of their home crowd. I expect Tigres to look less than their finest in the midday sun of Mexico City. Pumas will get the unexpected win. Mark it down.