Roberto Alvarado, Cruz Azul stars among Liga MX's best midseason players
Believe it or not, we're at the halfway point of the 2018 Apertura regular season. With an international break underway after Week 8's matches, we now have an opportunity to take a step back and analyze what we've seen so far in Mexico's top flight.
After looking at a number of memorable performances, here's the Liga MX best XI from the first half of the season.
GK: Tiago Volpi, Queretaro
While it's true that Cruz Azul's Jesus Corona and Pachuca's Alfonso Blanco have allowed fewer goals, no keeper has amassed more saves this season than Volpi. The Brazilian is the main reason Querataro is in the running for the playoffs.
DF: Rodrigo Salinas, Toluca
Over the last several weeks, Salinas has appeared as a composed and consistent fullback for Los Diablos Rojos. With his high-pressing runs down the right flank, the 30-year-old Mexican has been an asset in both the defense and attack of the top eight squad.
DF: Pablo Aguilar, Cruz Azul
Time and time again, the powerful and physical Paraguayan has proven to be the most talented central defender in the league. With the 31-year-old taking charge of the backline, Cruz Azul has only allowed a total of three goals in eight games.
DF: Nicolas Sanchez, Monterrey
There's no way of overlooking the fact that a central defender is the leading goalscorer for a team that is sitting in second place. A spotlight should also be placed on the Argentine's noteworthy aggression and knack for interceptions, but Sanchez's four goals are what truly set him apart.
MF: Elias Hernandez, Cruz Azul
At this point, it shouldn't be a surprise that Cruz Azul dominates this best XI, and no list would be complete without Hernandez. The winger, who has emerged with four goals and three assists, is arguably one of the leading candidates for player of the season. As long as Hernandez is fit, Cruz Azul will remain as a strong contender for the Apertura title.
MF: Erick Gutierrez, Pachuca
Although he recently signed with PSV Eindhoven, Gutierrez is still worthy of recognition. Before making the move to Europe last week, few Liga MX players have looked as confident as the 23-year-old Pachuca captain. After reviving Pachuca's poor start to the season, Gutierrez will now have a chance to take part in the UEFA Champions League group stage with his new Dutch club.
MF: Ivan Marcone, Cruz Azul
If we're talking about Cruz Azul, credit must be given to Marcone, the team's newest defensive midfielder. Since arriving to Mexico over the summer, the Argentine player has stepped up with more tackles, interceptions and attempted passes than any other player in his roster.
MF: Roberto Alvarado, Cruz Azul
No young Mexican has proven to be more exciting in the Apertura than Alvarado. The attack-minded midfielder has been influential in a Cruz Azul side that is the best team in the league. After collecting two goals and three assists, the 19-year-old also deservedly collected his first call-up to El Tri in the current international break as well.
FW: Julio Furch, Santos Laguna
No Djaniny, no problem. Furch has stepped up in the attack for Los Guerreros with an eye-catching total of five goals and four assists so far this season. In spite of the many predictions of a slump for Santos after the recent exit of a handful of vital figures, the Argentine has helped his club exceed expectations with an impressive start to the tournament.
FW: Andre-Pierre Gignac, Tigres
Regardless of a couple of worrisome performances this season, the Tigres striker remains as the league's leading goalscorer with his tally of six. The fact that Gignac isn't playing at his very best, but is still at the top of scoring charts, says plenty about his talents in comparison to other Liga MX strikers.
FW: Victor Davila, Necaxa
Without a doubt, Davila has already established himself as the breakout player of the Apertura. Although Necaxa has been far from impressive, the 20-year-old Chilean has found a way to stand out with his five goals and two assists in eight games. A move to a bigger Liga MX club, or perhaps Europe, appears imminent for the youngster.
Substitutes: Jesus Corona (Cruz Azul), Hugo Ayala (Tigres), Camilo Sanvezzo (Queretaro), Felipe Mora (Pumas), Dieter Villalpando (Necaxa), Jonathan Rodriguez (Santos Laguna), Oribe Peralta (Club America)