Pumas' big trip to Monterrey, Tigres seek momentum, pressure on La Volpe
We're almost at the regular season's midway point and there are plenty of clubs that still need to pick up steam. Two such clubs are last season's finalists, Tigres and Club America.
Here's what to watch for in Liga MX Week 6:
Pumas' key visit to Monterrey
So far in the Clausura, Club Tijuana has had eye-opening away wins at Chivas and Leon. Those types of away wins resonate in the memory, and Pumas would love a similar result in their visit to Monterrey to send an echoing message to the rest of the league. There's no doubt that under Juan Francisco Palencia, Pumas' home field advantage has been one of the most formidable in Mexico, but if they're able to match home performances with those away from Ciudad Universitaria more often, Pumas will start looking like a team with solid aspirations for the title.
In the early stages of the Clausura, Pumas showcased a dynamic attack led by Nicolas Castillo, Bryan Rabello, Jesus Gallardo and Pablo Barrera. Although he's new to the league, Castillo already has more goals than Andre-Pierre Gignac, Mauro Boselli, Julio Furch and Silvio Romero, foreign strikers who have tallied 10 or more goals in recent seasons.
Los Rayados have yet to lose a game in the Clausura; winning at Estadio BBVA Bancomer will be a complicated task for Palencia's men.
Winner of Pachuca-Tigres will get needed momentum
On Thursday morning, Lucas Zelarayan, who has scored two of Tigres' only four goals in the Clausura, noted that the team's poor finishing is a source of concern in the team. Liga MX's defending champion has yet to take off in a season where the most notable story has been Chiapas, a team with relegation fears at the start of the season that's since turned into one of the best performers so far.
It's been an odd, slow start to the Clausura for Tigres, which in a sense works in favor of the Monterrey side. However, they need to shake it off over the coming weeks. Tigres must start building a positive streak of games before the next FIFA break in late March.
Meanwhile Pachuca will host Ricardo "Tuca" Ferretti's team after only scoring one goal in its last three games. The numbers are not positive for Los Tuzos, who in the last two seasons have been one of the most efficient teams in the scoring department.
With a clear idea of what's happening at both clubs, could Tigres become the first team to beat Pachuca at Estadio Hidalgo since November of 2015? The answer is possibly yes, mainly because it counts with a squad capable to take the city of Pachuca by surprise.
The Clasico Tapatio is the game to watch
There was something special in the last Clasico Tapatio as 18 of the 22 starters were Mexican footballers. The essence of the rivalry remains pristine despite that both teams haven't been constantly battling for league titles in recent years.
Chivas faces a major test as they visit Los Rojinegros, who boast a 12-game home unbeaten streak. During that 12-game run, Atlas has defeated teams like Monterrey and Tigres but if it's able to beat Chivas, Estadio Jalisco will literally shake.
Pressure on La Volpe if America don't win
Whenever William da Silva offers his observations about Las Aguilas' current state, it's important to listen. After all, if there's a player that has succeeded during Ricardo La Volpe's time as America's boss, it's the Brazilian-Mexican midfielder.
Following America's surprising 2-0 loss vs. Chiapas, da Silva said that La Volpe is worried because in the current squad, there's no natural No. 10 or No. 8 in the current squad.
"He's always complaining that he needs [them]; it's important in his tactical scheme, but the players that have gotten the opportunity have done their best whenever they've received the opportunity."
America's problem is not that it lacks such players; the problem is that key players like William and Renato Ibarra have been erratic, causing the team to lack fluidity in the final third. Newcomer Cecilio Dominguez is a bright spot in America's attack but he needs a supporting cast and at the moment, it's hardly visible. If America's attack doesn't click against Puebla, then the team will once again fall in the hole it did early on last season when Ignacio Ambriz was fired.
La Volpe faces the most critical time of his tenure since he signed for the club last September.
Nayib Moran covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @nayibmoran.