Five things to watch in Liga MX Apertura Week 3
It's hard to believe that the third week of the Liga MX is already upon us when it feels as if the season just started yesterday. The Apertura has so far provided a few surprises but there is still the potential for much more drama with many of the fixtures this weekend. This is the Liga MX after all, and what makes this league so exciting is the strong possibility of unexpected performances.
Here are five things to watch during the third week of the Liga MX Apertura.
1. Xolos vs. Tigres
Both squads have so much to play for in the second match of the weekend. Xolos are currently sitting near the bottom of the Liga MX table with two losses so far this season. The squad seems to be a shambles lately and needs to find a much-needed point at the very least on Friday -- especially at home, where Los Xolos have done very well in the past couple of seasons.
As for Tigres, the team is on cloud nine after their 4-2 win against Leon, but they still need to prove to their fans that they can keep up their form. Tigres have been highly criticized in the past for their lack of goals, and the expectations will be very high after their win last weekend.
2. Cuauhtemoc Blanco vs. Club America
Cuauhtemoc Blanco is almost synonymous with Club America; Blanco played most of his career with the Mexico City club and is essentially a demigod for the fans that watched him.
How will the veteran play for Puebla against his beloved team? More importantly, what can he still accomplish at the age of 41? Blanco was impressive in his brief showing last weekend -- coming on as a sub in the 0-0 draw with Veracruz -- and it will be genuinely intriguing to see what he will do with his time on the pitch, if he gets any.
America seem to be gradually picking up their pace this season after their last-second win against Tijuana. America head coach Antonio Mohamed -- who is only two years and nine months older than Blanco -- must recognize the fickle nature of the Liga MX when it comes to coaches and look to thwart Puebla's attacks.
3. Cruz Azul under pressure
I should mention their opponents, Veracruz, but the focus will solely be on La Maquina. Cruz Azul have been completely underwhelming so far this season and can't afford to lose to Veracruz at home. Granted, it has only been two weeks, but the team should still feel embarrassed about only having scored one goal so far. Especially considering the calibre and experience of the squad they have available.
It's too early in the season to begin worrying seriously, but if they are to avoid a difficult situation, La Maquina has to win this Saturday.
4. Leon's fall from grace
Speaking of underwhelming performances, Leon are sitting second-to-last in the Liga MX table after becoming only the second team in history to seal back-to-back titles -- Apertura 2013 and Clausura 2014. Not exactly what one would call consistency.
The squad can, of course, still stumble into the playoffs in eighth place like they did last season, but that doesn't mean they will have the same results in the knockout round either. Can Leon get three points from Morelia on Saturday? Will William Yarbrough continue to make mistakes in goal?
5. Toluca vs. Pumas
Toluca have been a playoff team for three out of the past four seasons and have been quite a feared unit. Perhaps this has played to their disadvantage because the team seem to be playing with little enthusiasm or spirit, almost as if they expect the win to come to them. Lucas Lobos doesn't seem to have made a huge impact, either.
Pumas put in a fantastic performance in their first match by beating Queretaro 3-1, but the team was below par against Chivas this past weekend and lost 1-0. Pumas will once again look to midfielder Daniel Luduena to see what kind of magic he can provide for his team.
Cesar Hernandez covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @cesarhfutbol.