Chivas, Cruz Azul seek first wins as champions Tigres aim for progress
After an exciting and somewhat surprising first week of the Clausura, Liga MX returns. Here is W2W4 this weekend.
Chivas vs. Cruz Azul is the game of the weekend
This is the first match of the season between two of the "big four" and it promises to be the game of the weekend.
Chivas comes into its 2018 Clausura home opener off the back of a positive 1-1 draw away at Toluca and Matias Almeyda's team has been handed the significance boost of being able to play Mexico international center-back Oswaldo Alanis. The defender had been sidelined for part of the preseason and the first game of the season due to a contractual problem with the club.
Eyes should also be peeled to see how Eduardo "Chofis" Lopez does, following his strong performance against Toluca, especially with a mainly Mexico-based El Tri squad set to be named in coming weeks.
Over at Cruz Azul, a 0-0 tie against Club Tijuana in Estadio Azul last weekend wasn't an ideal start, but La Maquina has also been boosted in the week by the signing of Carlos "Gullit" Pena from Rangers, as well as the news that former Sevilla winger Walter Montoya has received his work visa and is ready to make his debut.
The game will also be an early indication of how new coach Pedro Caxinha intends to set his team up against the big clubs. When he was at Santos Laguna, Caixinha favored a more direct, counter-attacking game and it worked, although managing a big club like Cruz Azul may means he changes things.
A loss in the Copa MX to second division side Alebrijes de Oaxaca means there is already pressure building on the manager, as ridiculous as that may sound. -- Tom Marshall (@mexicoworldcup)
Pachuca can't afford defensive blunders at America
Pachuca defender, Oscar Murillo, addressed the media on Thursday morning and explained that although they've managed positive results in their recent visits to Estadio Azteca, he expects a tough match against one of Liga MX's best offensive sides. His observation is almost on point because America's offense hasn't been that clinical in its recent Liga MX matches, and new signings like Jeremy Menez and Andres Ibarguen are still adapting to their new surroundings.
Neither of them are likely to play on Saturday and America's offense will likely continue to depend on how effective Oribe Peralta and Henry Martin are in front of goal, while Pachuca's defense can't afford the defensive blunders it had in its 3-2 loss to Pumas.
There's reason to think that if Pachuca suffer a tough loss against America, the alarms will go off in Pachuca's camp. Diego Alonso's tenure has been successful -- a Liga MX title and CONCACAF Champions League trophy prove it -- but since last season, Pachuca hasn't been consistent with its football. It used to be that Pachuca dazzled for its ability to play both a direct and possession-based style, but nowadays, it looks broken, unable to have a definitive style to work out a complicated game.
Last Saturday's loss was atypical because Pachuca easily fell in a hole and couldn't dig itself out, allowing Pumas to cruise to a 3-2 comeback after being down 2-0.
America needs to impress in its home debut; this is supposed to be the season where Miguel "Piojo" Herrera's second stint as America manager will begin to look like it did the first time around. The Americanismo spirits are in great shape, but Pachuca will try to quiet them, at least for a night. -- Nayib Moran (@nayibmoran)
Tigres and Santos go head-to-head
No one will dare sound any alarms for the defending champs after UANL dropped their season opener in Puebla;
Tigres still has one of the most formidable attacking groups on the continent, despite Jurgen Damm's injury over the holiday season, and the likes of Enner Valencia, Andre-Pierre Gignac, Javier Aquino and Eduardo Vargas are ready to wreak havoc on Santos Laguna's defense.
Santos looked good in their opener and will look to build upon their fast start, especially given they missed the playoffs last season; despite the stability instilled under previous manager Chepo de la Torre, Santos has lacked offensive firepower in recent tournaments.
They'll need to bring their best against their northern rivals as they visit the Universitario and, despite Tigres' legendary slow starts, this could be a great game -- Eric Gomez (@EricGomez86)