Liga MX W2W4: Best will be on display as Cruz Azul host Tigres; Pachuca aim to rebound
With two weeks down, the Liga MX table is starting to take shape. With some of the league's biggest clubs struggling it is time to right the ship for some while others hope to continue the momentum of their positive starts. Our Liga MX writers Tom Marshall, Eric Gomez and Cesar Hernandez each pick out a matchup to watch for this weekend.
Liga MX's best on display as Cruz Azul host Tigres
Without a doubt, the biggest Liga MX match from Week 3 is Cruz Azul vs Tigres. With six points apiece, both sides are two of only four teams remaining that have won all their matches in the Apertura.
Looking at Cruz Azul, the revamped Mexico City squad has emerged as one of the more intriguing teams in the league. Thanks to a number of noteworthy reinforcements during the summer, Los Cementeros are beginning to quickly shed their infamous image as a club that is cursed with constant bad luck. With Ricardo Pelaez as the new sporting director, Cruz Azul has entered a new and promising era.
That said, Tigres are easily capable of halting Cruz Azul's momentum. Regardless of the roster improvements seen under Pelaez, man-for-man, Tigres remain as the superior side in Saturday's upcoming battle at the Estadio Azteca. With the return of Guido Pizarro in the starting XI as well, manager Ricardo "Tuca" Ferretti will be eager to steal the Azteca spotlight when his team makes the trip from Monterrey to Mexico City.
If you're looking for a high-profile clash between some of the best players in the league, look no further than Cruz Azul vs Tigres. -- Cesar Hernandez
Pachuca looks to get back on track against Club America
Pachuca rightly gets a lot of praise for its youth structure, commitment to education and for managing itself slightly differently than most Mexican clubs. But at the first-team level things have not been going well. Perhaps the 2017 CONCACAF Champions League victory and FIFA Club World Cup appearance papered over the cracks, but Los Tuzos haven't made a Liga MX playoff since the 2016 Apertura and since the start of 2017 have a win percentage of just 32 in league play.
Pako Ayestaran's team hasn't scored in its first two games this Apertura and Pachuca really needs a performance against Club America in Estadio Hidalgo on Saturday. The changeover from Diego Alonso to Ayestaran, who didn't have a great time of it at Santos Laguna in 2015, will naturally take time, but a look down the Pachuca squad these days doesn't exactly instill fear into opposition. The loss of Hirving Lozano has never been replaced and, as sporting director Marco Garces explained this week: "We've sold our best player in the last seven tournaments."
All of which helps to explain why Pachuca appears to be so reluctant to let midfielder Erick Gutierrez leave this summer, when rumors suggested he could join PSV Eindhoven.
Over at Club America, there's a sense of serenity after a 3-0 win over Atlas last weekend was followed up by a 3-0 Copa MX victory over Veracruz on Tuesday. Cecilio Dominguez is also back from injury and Las Aguilas will take some stopping in Estadio Hidalgo, especially with the midfield partnership of Guido Rodriguez and Mateus Uribe looking back to its best. -- Tom Marshall
Chivas look for inspiration at Toluca
Two games into the Jose Cardozo era, it's easy to see why fans are so disgruntled with former coach Matias Almeyda's exit. Though Guadalajara has been competitive in losses to Tijuana and Cruz Azul, the winless start has been difficult for those who clamored for Almeyda to stay on amid turmoil in the front office. The marked departure from a flashy style of play to a more balanced approach has also made for less-entertaining viewing.
After Chivas' first win of the Apertura 2018, in the Copa earlier this week, Cardozo will hope the stadium where he found unmitigated success as a player will offer some inspiration this time around as a visiting coach. Toluca, last season's runners-up, have also struggled early on this season, dropping two matches since last Friday: a 3-2 league defeat to Puebla, and a Copa stumble to Juarez by the same score. Away from the touchline and on the pitch, fans and neutrals will hope to see Juan Jose Macias start for Chivas after an impressive display in the domestic cup, while 18-year-old Kevin Castaneda of Toluca will want to see the field after similarly lighting it up on Wednesday in the Copa MX. -- Eric Gomez