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Liga MX 2018 Apertura: What you need to know before kickoff

Liga MX

Apertura: Martinez tops list of 10 new players to watch

Liga MX

Santos Laguna, Toluca linked by their owners

Liga MX
 By Nayib Moran

Resurgent Leon climb into the top 10, Pachuca slip all the way to 14th

Even though Monterrey look unstoppable so far in the Apertura, there are teams like Morelia, Tijuana, Cruz Azul and Leon who are positively evolving as the season moves along. However, it remains to be seen if the four clubs mentioned will prolong their current hot streaks.

Here are Week 9's Liga MX Power Rankings:

1. MONTERREY  (no change)
Perhaps the only problem surrounding Monterrey, if there is any, is that they have missed four penalties this season. Players like Rogelio Funes Mori, Carlos Sanchez and Dorlan Pabon have all missed, but even with this strange incompetence from the penalty spot, the club has still scored 18 goals. After a 2-1 win over Atlas, the wins keep piling for Rayados

2. CLUB AMERICA  (no change)
In its 1-1 draw against Tijuana, America dealt with certain situations that complicated the game. Edson Alvarez stepped of the pitch with a knee injury, and Miguel Samudio was sent off. Whenever Cecilio Dominguez stepped up a gear, America's attack looked sharp. Unfortunately, those good Cecilio plays were sporadic.

Xolos could have defeated America on Friday night. They took 17 shots, seven of those on target. America goalkeeper, Agustin Marchesin, finished the night with seven saves, including a crucial penalty stop. Even though Gustavo Bou missed a penalty, his performance in the final third invites many to think that he will be one of the most dominant strikers in the league for years to come.

4. CRUZ AZUL  (+2)
Cruz Azul defeated Santos Laguna 2-1, and alongside Monterrey, are the only two unbeaten teams in Liga MX. The key moving forward for La Maquina will be to see Angel Mena increase his influence on the field. 

5. TIGRES UANL  (-2)
Javier Aquino's brace wasn't enough for Tigres to get a win from its visit to Morelia. The match ended 3-3, and after eight matches, Tigres have conceded 11 goals. It's rare not to see Tigres' defense among the best five, but that's actually the case right now. 

6. MORELIA  (+1)
Over the last four matches in which Morelia are unbeaten, they have scored 10 goals. Peruvian striker Raul Ruidiaz has scored five of those. Also, a win over America and a draw against Tigres at home are great results for Morelia. 

7. TOLUCA  (-2)
Just over thirty minutes into its game against Queretaro, Toluca led 3-0, but the final score read 3-2. Los Diablos Rojos suffered to get their fourth win of the season and needed goalkeeper Luis Garcia to stop a penalty to keep the game at 3-2.

8. NECAXA  (no change)
Just when it looked like Puebla might be able to get a massive away win in Aguascalientes, Necaxa drew level at 1-1. Los Rayos haven't achieved a win since Week 7 and will now visit Santos, who are in desperate need of a win to keep its Liguilla hopes alive.

9. LEON  (+6)
Mauro Boselli scored his 100th goal with Leon, and currently is the league's top goalscorer with seven. With Gustavo "Chavo" Diaz leading the pack, La Fiera have achieved consecutive wins. The question is, will the great form continue?

Leon continued its midseason resurgence under Gustavo Diaz, as Mauro Boselli notched his 100th goal for the club.

10. LOBOS BUAP  (+1)
Without striker Julian Quinones in the roster, Lobos BUAP got an important 1-0 victory over Veracruz. The result calms the storm, as Lobos attempt to recuperate the great form they showed at the start of the season. 

 11. CHIVAS  (+2)
It seemed that after their 3-1 win over Pachuca, Chivas were going to be able to finally start a winning streak, but it was not to be. Chivas drew 1-1 against Pumas, who was coming into their visit to Estadio Chivas with four consecutive losses. Now, Chivas will prepare for the upcoming Clasico Nacional

12. VERACRUZ  (no change)
Before Lobos BUAP's visit, Veracruz only had one home loss, and it occurred in the first week against Necaxa. Los Tiburones Rojos will head to Monterrey to play against Tigres, and the possibility of seeing them suffer their third loss in a row are high.

13. QUERETARO  (-3)
Queretaro's last win came in Week 4, the club suffering three defeats and two draws since. The current winless run that they are on might prevent it from reaching playoffs.

14. PACHUCA  (-5)
Pachuca's recent performances have been deplorable, and due to those atypical displays, they have suffered back-to-back defeats. The recent 3-1 loss to Leon showed a slow Pachuca, unable to match the intensity that Leon demonstrated in the first 45 minutes. 

Pachuca is running out of time to salvage their season, as things get worse and worse for Los Tuzos.

15. ATLAS  (-1)
Atlas is falling apart, and there's no signs that it will be able to get back up. In their last six games, they have five defeats and just one draw.

16. SANTOS LAGUNA  (no change)
Santos saw three of its players sent off in the 2-1 loss to Cruz Azul. At the moment, Los Guerreros don't look like a playoff team. 

17. PUMAS UNAM  (no change)
Pumas' situation is so dire, that a 1-1 draw against Chivas was like a breath of fresh air. Next Sunday, Pumas host Leon, who will want to get its third win in a row and solidify its place among the top eight. 

18. PUEBLA  (no change)
Puebla, Santos and Chivas are the only teams that only have one win in the Apertura, but luckily for Los Camoteros, they're not immersed in the relegations race. The clubs directly involved right now are Queretaro, Atlas and Veracruz, but that will certainly change in the coming months.

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


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