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Santos Laguna, Toluca linked by their owners

Liga MX
 By Nayib Moran

What Liga MX teams have to do: Club-by-club Clausura breakdown

With a referees' strike meaning there was no Liga MX action over the weekend, clubs have had an unexpected break which, for many, could not have come at a better time. 

Here's what each club needs to do in order to end the Clausura with a bang.

Excessive suffering in second halves of games has been a common theme at Chivas but, nonetheless, Rodolfo Pizarro, Angel Zaldivar and Alan Pulido are putting up excellent numbers, which should provide comfort to supporters.

Although Jonathan Urretaviscaya and Franco Jara have put up good displays recently, Hirving Lozano has been rather quiet. If Pachuca wants to be a force to be reckoned with come the finals then "Chucky" must start scoring goals.

Without Dayro Moreno in the picture, Tijuana's attack has become more dynamic and Aviles Hurtado, Victor Malcorra and Paul Arriola have benefited. However, Xolos can't afford a Guido Rodriguez injury because, without him, the team's cohesion disappears.

With 50 in nine games, Dorlan Pabon has taken most shots in the Clausura so far. Behind him, though, the team has to show more reliability. Rayados' defense has conceded 10 goals, which is not bad but such a talented squad should be among the top-three defenses.

A weekend off was probably what Toluca required after two straight losses. Los Diablos Rojos are capable of turning things around, considering the strong attack they have and even without Rubens Sambueza and Enrique Triverio's presence.

Atlas is entering into unknown territory. Being in the top eight demands Los Rojinegros to have consistency, but will forwards like Fidel Martinez and Gustavo Alustiza, who are not known for such a quality, respond to the challenge?

At times Pumas appears like a team that would be pleased by making the playoffs, but not actually fighting for the title. Right now, in Nicolas Castillo, they have a striker who many opponents dread facing; Pumas should use this to their advantage.

Like Chivas, Santos has had trouble closing out games; there have been several where Los Guerreros got one point instead of three because they were unable to defend a one-goal lead. Julio Furch, Djaniny Tavares and Jonathan Rodriguez have to be more clinical in front of goal.

Queretaro's fans should not be expecting a surprising return to the Liguilla. Under head coach Jaime Lozano, what the team needs is to develop an attacking identity that will allow it to be competitive next season.

After nine rounds of the Clausura, Chivas is just ahead of second-placed Pachuca.

There's no doubt that Morelia is building momentum in its attempt to avoid relegation. Los Monarcas are aware that the key to maintaining their first division status lies in winning as many away points as possible.

After a thrilling start to the campaign, in which it won three of the first five games, Chiapas' has suffered something of a drop in form. However, those early wins could go a long way to helping escape relegation.

There are two major objectives on Tigres' agenda: Win the league and win the CONCACAF Champions League. In order for that to happen, the best version of Andre-Pierre Gignac, who has just two goals in eight games so far, has to show up soon.

With the return from injury of Cecilio Dominguez, America has an offensive option that could start guiding the team to better performances. Las Aguilas need to define and perfect a playing style in order to aspire for a playoff spot.

Slowly but surely, Paco Jemez's project at Cruz Azul is starting to show some positive results, but the joy can't go overboard. That's because, if La Maquina is unable to do anything significant this season, the supporters won't be pleased.

With Jose Saturnino Cardozo in charge of the team, Puebla has only lost once in five games and most recently went to Chiapas and won 3-2. If it is able to maintain this rhythm, upcoming opponents could be in for a surprise or two.

It's looking like Veracruz, which is winless in six games, is a team bound for relegation. There are few positives coming from Los Tiburones Rojos and there are no signs that they will massively improve in upcoming weeks.

To see Necaxa at the bottom is strange because, last season, it took Liga MX by surprise. However, Edson Puch is not the force that he was and a string of great performances from him will see his side make a sudden run for the playoffs.

18. LEON 
Head coach Javier Torrente can't find the right XI and there's confusion in the team that is causing fans to openly showcase their discontent. Unless there is a miracle, Los Esmeraldas will not play postseason football.

Nayib Moran covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @nayibmoran.


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