Liga MX in 2018: 10 great things we imagined for the Apertura
Editor's note: This article originally appeared in Spanish on ESPN Mexico. Find the original here.
MEXICO CITY -- Without even thinking about it, Javier Hernandez said one of the most memorable quotes of the Russia World Cup when he said that Mexico should "imagine amazing things," in reference to what El Tri could achieve in that tournament.
In that spirit, ESPN FC has taken on that famous Chicharito quote and applied it to Liga MX in order to imagine new situations for the coming season, such as a Mexican player finishing as Apertura top scorer, new leaders emerging around the league, all clubs finishing paying their old debts to players, and seeing young talent get more time on the pitch.
Here are 10 "imaginings" for the new season.
1. New stars: Now it's time to see new players writing new chapters in Liga MX history, with the start of the 2018 Apertura. After the departure of Djaniny Tavares, Gustavo Bou and Fernando Uribe, along with Rafael Marquez's retirement, Liga Bancomer is wide open for new stars emerging into the spotlight. In a matter of months, we should know who those brand-new faces will be.
2. More faith in managers: Believing in football projects in Mexico is hard if you see a team being defeated twice or three times in a row. In this last offseason alone, six managers were replaced, which means changes in a third part of all sides. Processes are rarely respected, and if there is one thing players ask for, it's continuity, so they can make decisions regarding their job stability.
3. Mexico players standing tall: There are new faces in Mexican football, such as Iván Marcone, Roger Martinez and Ricky Alvarez, who are becoming main players and now are required to prove their worth and skills so they can excel in a league that relies heavily on foreign imports.
4. More opportunities for young players: With Rule 20/11 in place once again, there is a new window of opportunity for young, homegrown players to break through and earn a spot in a side, just as Andres Guardado did once upon a time. Fans will hope to see the likes of Diego Lainez with Club America, Roberto Alvarado with Cruz Azul, Jose Macías with Chivas and even Brian Figueroa in Pumas establish themselves.
5. A homegrown scoring leader: We have not seen a Mexican player finish as the top scorer in Liga MX for the past 14 tournaments ... since the 2011 Clausura tournament, to be exact. Over the past seven years, foreign players have been leading scorers despite huge efforts from Oribe Peralta, Alan Pulido and Hirving Lozano. A new campaign represents a new opportunity for a Mexican striker.
6. On-pitch entertainment: We can only hope that big goals, saves, defensive plays, individual details and team efforts will excel above everything else. After the World Cup, people are hungry for their fix of football passion and fun. That means it is now the turn of local teams and players to fulfill that need for excitement.
7. Don't blame the referee: The best way to express that wish is by hoping to hear as little about referees as possible. It is a huge challenge, because controversies are rarely far away in Liga MX.
8. Introduce VAR: League executives intended to put VAR in place during the 2018 Clausura tournament. However, efforts from the Referee Commission are still ongoing in order to have a VAR system in place for the first division. At present, there's no tentative date for it to happen, but the door remains open for the system to be rolled out on Mexican pitches at some point this season.
9. Players get paid: An ongoing saga in Mexican football is the lack of payment to players at several teams. Lately, it's been happening at clubs like Veracruz, Xolos and even a leading franchise in Guadalajara. In the end, all debts have been paid, but the league has every intention and desire to put an end to this situation before it happens again.
10. Big clubs need to play like big clubs: Over the past few seasons, there's been a constant trend of seeing the most popular teams in Mexico -- such as America, Chivas, Pumas and Cruz Azul -- not playing against each other in a Liguilla or even becoming main forces in the playoffs. Just like it happens every six months, there is a fresh chance to have the traditional sides shining and competing to be the best in Liga MX.