Liga MX's 'grandes' look to rebound after suffering defeats in midweek
Apologies in advance for stating the obvious, but it's not common to see all four "grandes" lose on any given matchday in Liga MX. The atypical midweek schedule just a few days ago was responsible for just that, however, as America, Chivas, Pumas and Cruz Azul all dropped their respective matches, with the latter losing their undefeated record in the process.
As we move into the weekend, they'll look to rebound and attempt to restore the hierarchy within the league en route to the playoffs.
Huge away tests for Chivas, America
Days after losing to Lobos BUAP at home, Chivas will now face off against title candidate Tigres in Monterrey, repeating May's Clausura 2017 final. This time, however, a Chivas win is even more unlikely than the upset the 12-time Liga MX winners pulled in the playoffs earlier this year, as a myriad of injuries and sharp drops in play for several key players have affected the defending champs.
One positive for Matias Almeyda's squad is the return of goalscorer Alan Pulido, who had missed the entirety of the season thus far with a broken bone sustained last summer with his national team. Pulido will look to break through against a defense that has looked frail this season, allowing 11 scores through their first nine games.
On the other side, Tigres boasts the league's best offense with the likes of Enner Valencia, Eduardo Vargas and Andre-Pierre Gignac leading the attack, meaning this game could be one of the most offensively pleasing of the weekend.
America, on the other hand, will visit Toluca after a shocking last-minute loss to Leon on Wednesday. At the Nemesio Diez, the third-placed Mexico City squad visits a surging Toluca side now positioned just above them, in second place.
An America win would signify a significant reversal in form for both clubs, as Toluca is unbeaten in its past four, while America has won just once in its past five matches.
Explosive offenses on display in Puebla
Lobos BUAP has scored 18 goals this season, tied for the league's best mark along with Tigres. Leon, its opponent next Saturday, is not far off the pace with 16 strikes of its own.
Both squads have thrilled their fans with their wide-open style, but the strategy has taken a toll on their defenses, as they've conceded 32 scores between the two of them.
All signs point to a thrilling contest in Puebla, in what could be one of the highest-scoring matches of the entire season. Mauro Boselli, the league's top scorer with eight goals, will square off against the surging Amaury Escoto, who has scored in his past two games and has been tasked with temporarily replacing the suspended Julian Quinones, who has scored six for Lobos.
With Lobos in desperate need of points as it looks to avoid relegation, this game will likely be intensely fought on both ends.
Managers on the chopping block
Teams have not been shy about letting their managers go this season, with nearly a third of the league now switching coaches through two months of play. This weekend, unless Queretaro's Jimmy Lozano can somehow surprise undefeated Monterrey, it's likely he'll join the unemployment line.
Another manager squarely on the hot seat is Atlas' Jose Guadalupe Cruz, who finally snapped an extended winless streak by beating hapless Puebla on Tuesday. This weekend, Cruz and his team will face Veracruz, a team that has already gone through the motion of firing its man in charge this season, replacing Juan Antonio Luna with former Toluca striker Jose Cardozo.
If both moves are made, it would mean an unprecedented seven managerial changes through just eleven weeks of the current Liga MX season.
Cruz Azul looks to rebound against Pumas
There's a derby this weekend when Cruz Azul visits crosstown rival Pumas on Sunday, with the Azules heavily favored to take the three points and further humiliate their opponents.
Pumas has been absolutely helpless this season, winning just twice in ten games and losing an astonishing seven matches in that same span. Meanwhile, Cruz Azul lost its first game of the campaign, a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Pachuca on Wednesday.
Paco Jemez's men will surely be looking to recover and show their fans the last match was just an outlier. Spain's Edgar Mendez has shown to be a shrewd acquisition for Cruz Azul this season, scoring four goals so far, one fewer than Pumas' top scorer, Nicolas Castillo of Chile.
Though it is patently unlikely Pumas will recover in time to make the playoffs, a win against Cruz Azul could serve as a strong point of pride as the team looks to get its bearings straight en route to the Clausura 2018.
Eric Gomez is an editor for ESPN's One Nación. You can follow him on Twitter: @EricGomez86.