Clasico Nacional fever returns, Pumas defend home record in electric Week 7
After a year that saw Club America and Chivas face off in two consecutive Liguillas, the 227th edition of the Clasico Nacional puts the rivals back in the spotlight on Saturday night (10 p.m. ET) in Guadalajara.
Here's what to watch for in Liga MX's Week 7:
Clasico Nacional fever returns
All eyes will be on Guadalajara's Estadio Chivas on Saturday for what promises to be an electric Super Clasico. Las Aguilas are desperate to get their winning spirits back, and what better place to do it than at their rivals' home pitch?
We've given you the keys to the match and written on Chivas' opportunity to send a strong message of title intent. Will El Rebano Sagrado be able to handle the pressure of being the unquestionable favorites heading into this battle? Here's everything you need to know about the Real Madrid vs. Barcelona of Mexican football!
Who will win?
Monterrey hosts Pachuca in 2016 Clausura final repeat
More than 50,000 people witnessed Justin Bieber's concert at Monterrey's Estadio BBVA Bancomer last Wednesday. And immediately after it finished, the groundskeepers took on the difficult task of making the pitch somewhat decent before Monterrey hosts Pachuca on Saturday.
The match marks Pachuca's first visit to Monterrey since Los Tuzos won their sixth league trophy in the 2016 Clausura. With only one point separating the two sides -- Pachuca in third place on 11 points and Monterrey in fifth on 10 -- Saturday's clash between two of the Clausura's best promises to be an exciting one.
Last week, Los Rayados got their first home win of the season with a 2-0 result against Pumas. Pachuca, meanwhile, has just one away win this season, a 4-2 victory over Leon. Monterrey's Dorlan Pabon will look to continue as the league's leading goalscorer (four), while Pachuca's Hirving "Chucky" Lozano will seek to score once again after failing to do so since striking a hat trick in Week 1.
Xolos visit Pumas' unbreachable Ciudad Universitaria
When Necaxa came to Pumas' Ciudad Universitaria on Jan. 29, head coach Alfonso Sosa said that the 12 p.m. start time, plus Mexico's high altitude, makes it tough for teams who are not used to playing in these conditions. In that particular match, Los Rayos took an early 1-0 lead, but ended up losing 3-1 after Pumas' possession-based game proved too much to handle for the visiting defense.
With Francisco "Paco" Palencia as manager, Pumas have only lost once at Ciudad Universitaria, though it is worth mentioning that they were rather lucky in a 1-0 victory against Cruz Azul and 1-1 draw with Pachuca.
Tijuana has proven this season that it's a sneaky team on the counter-attack and highly efficient on set pieces. When Miguel "Piojo" Herrera's Xolos came up against possession-based Chivas earlier in the campaign, they secured a 1-0 win by way of converting one of their very few shots on target. Tijuana has demonstrated an ability to get results without seeing much of the ball, but if Pumas are efficient in front of goal, it could be a long afternoon for the visitors in Mexico City.
At Ciudad Universitaria, the hope is that Palencia will be given a four-year stint to implement his style and see Pumas lift a league trophy. It would be a remarkable achievement for the team -- especially if they are able to win a trophy with a squad that includes a good number of youth academy players.
Palencia, similarly to Herrera not long ago, is working his way up the ranks in an effort to become one of Mexico's best young coaches.
Cruz Azul, Tigres seek much-needed victories
Although their realities are opposite, Tigres and Cruz Azul share a common goal heading into Week 7: They need wins. Both teams have just one victory this campaign, but it's Tigres who are at the bottom of the table on four points.
This has been an unacceptable and unprecedented start for the defending champions and if Veracruz is able to defeat them on Friday, the red sirens should definitely go off.
At Cruz Azul, the players know that the current state of the club is not pleasing to its fans. Including Copa MX games, La Maquina has not gotten a win in its past eight match.
Even though Cruz Azul's level of competitiveness has risen and the team looks more lively under Paco Jemez, patience and La Maquina simply do not mix. Fans want to see positive results that will make them believe that their team can actually return to the Liguilla after five straight seasons without playoff football at Estadio Azul. Winning against Atlas this Saturday is a must.
Nayib Moran covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @nayibmoran.