America take on Chivas, Herrera's Tijuana revival, Tigres-Pumas replay
The Super Clasico, a repeat of last season's championship match, and a resurgent Cruz Azul all highlight some of the key matches this weekend in the Liga MX.
With the halfway point of the tournament passed, here are five things to watch during Week 10 of the 2016 Clausura:
1. Massive Super Clasico
Sunday's match between Chivas and America will most definitely be the highlight of the weekend, and perhaps even the season. Only a few other events in Mexico earn more attention than the highly-contested rivalry match between the two Liga MX giants.
When comparing the two, it's fairly simple to see that America has been more dominant in recent years. While Las Aguilas gained an Apertura title in 2014 and CONCACAF Champions League trophy in 2015, Chivas have spent most of that time fighting off relegation scares at the bottom of the table.
That being said, Chivas are starting to find momentum at the perfect opportunity. After going numerous weeks without a victory, Los Rojiblancos walked away with a 2-0 win against Queretaro last week -- their first of the season.
Chivas manager Matias Almeyda used a bold strategy by keeping captain and striker Omar Bravo on the bench; his decision paid off beautifully with three points in hand for the first time in the tournament. Which leaves a big question for this Sunday: Will Almeyda once again bench Chivas' all-time leading goal scorer?
America has more talented options and wins under their belt, but keep an eye on the Chivas side that may have found a recipe for success in 2016.
2. Herrera still looking to make his mark with Xolos
When Miguel Herrera first arrived in Tijuana, hopes were high for the club that finished in second-to-last place in the 2015 Apertura. Herrera represented an energy and a presence that the team needed on the sidelines. The manager had recently been fired from the Mexico national team and now had an opportunity to once again gain a title in Mexico's domestic league.
After over two months with Tijuana, it has become clear that Los Xolos are looking better than last year. Thanks to Herrera, Tijuana has played with more eagerness in the attack and is only one of three clubs left that has yet to lose more than one game.
This should seem like good news, but the team has also secured only two victories, none of which have been at home. Xolos have the talents to at least become a fringe playoff club but will need to soon start gaining more victories in the league.
With his recent goals, Colombian striker Dayro Moreno is the most significant piece of the Tijuana puzzle and key factor in finding these victories. When Moreno is at his best, Xolos look like a squad that could exceed many expectations.
During Saturday's away match against Chiapas, be sure to check out what tricks Herrera and Moreno have up their sleeves.
3. Tigres vs. Pumas replay
Pumas nearly pulled off a shock result against Tigres in their last meetup, but it was Los Auriazules who eventually walked away with a 2015 Apertura championship in hand.
Tigres have had the better start in 2016, and Pumas have been underwhelming. Although the Mexico City side is doing quite well in the Copa Libertadores, they have seldom shown the same vigor and energy in the Clausura competition. Pumas have collected five draws in their last six games and only have two wins in the tournament.
As for Tigres, Los Auriazules recently lost 1-0 to Monterrey in the Clasico Regio and will look to immediately bounce back against Pumas this Saturday. French superstar Andre-Pierre Gignac has struggled recently, and will also be eager to help gain another win for Tigres.
No championship title will be up for grabs this week, but the atmosphere at the Estadio Universitario will surely make it feel that way. El Volcan is typically filled to the brim in Monterrey and will have many supporters who will want to see Tigres defeat Pumas again.
4. Dorados chance for victory against Toluca
Dorados need 17 more points this tournament to at least fight for relegation survival. With only seven matches left in the regular season, the club will need to be near-perfect in the Clausura. Relegation seems like a near-guarantee for the team that has been able to collect only four points in the first nine matches.
Dorados need victories but might actually have a chance this Sunday against Toluca. Los Diablos Rojos have only one win this season and have allowed nine goals in their last three matches. Some of the blame could be due to the team's involvement in the Copa Libertadores, which has forced them to travel to Argentina and Ecuador during the past few weeks.
Toluca is falling apart at the perfect time for Dorados. Toluca will have an advantage at home this Sunday, but don't count out a Dorados side that will be desperate for any points.
5. Cruz Azul on the rise
This could be the season for Cruz Azul. Los Cementeros haven't lost a match since Jan. 23, and have scored 19 goals so far in the competition -- which is more than any other club at the moment.
Thanks to excellent performances from Paraguayan Edgar Benitez and Argentine Christian Gimenez up top, Cruz Azul is slowly becoming a true title contender.
On Saturday, Cruz Azul will have a chance to sneak into the top four if the team can pull off a victory at home against Puebla.
If Argentine striker Matias Alustiza fires on all cylinders against Cruz Azul, Puebla might have a chance of a surprise win, but all signs seem to point to another victory for the in-form Cementeros. Even if Cruz Azul doesn't win, fans can rest easy knowing that they will have a fairly easy schedule to end the competition.
Cesar Hernandez can't remember a time when soccer hasn't been a part of his daily life. Within that is a lifelong passion for El Tri. Twitter: @cesarhfutbol.