Liga MX Week 5 preview: Non-televised games, Monterrey on the rise and Nicolas Castillo’s big opportunity

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Liga MX Week 5 preview: Non-televised games, Monterrey on the rise and Nicolas Castillo’s big opportunity

Four rounds of matches down, 13 to go until the 2017 Apertura playoffs! There’s plenty to cover this Liga MX weekend, so let’s dive right into our gam

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Four rounds of matches down, 13 to go until the 2017 Apertura playoffs! There’s plenty to cover this Liga MX weekend, so let’s dive right into our game-by-game preview for Week 5 of the tournament.

Morelia vs Pachuca — Friday, August 18th (5pm PT/8pm ET)

Will Keisuke Honda make his much-awaited debut for Pachuca? After recovering from a recent injury, the Japanese superstar has now been training with Los Tuzos since Monday. Whether Honda plays or not, confidence will be very high for Pachuca after last week’s win over Tigres. As for Morelia, Los Canarios are still seeking their first victory of the season.

Morelia form: DDDL (14th place)

Pachuca form: LLLW (15th place)

Player to watch: At time of writing, there is no confirmation yet if Honda will play, so let’s go with Pachuca’s Erick Gutierrez. The young and promising Mexican will be a key figure in the midfield for the visiting side.

Prediction: Despite the fact that Morelia will be hosting the clash, Pachuca should walk away with a win here. For Los Tuzos, things are slowly beginning to click for the roster that boasts some of the best players in the league.

Club Tijuana vs Santos Laguna — Friday, August 18th (7pm PT/10pm ET)

Xolos manager Eduardo “Chacho” Coudet should be motivated to gain a win on Friday night. After gaining three losses and one draw in the Apertura, Tijuana’s coach must soon provide more points before calls for his firing grow stronger. Santos have the talents to make things difficult for Xolos, but have also yet to truly impress in the regular season.

Tijuana form: LLLD (18th place)

Santos form: DDDL (13th place)

Player to watch: Tijuana’s Damian Musto. If Xolos are going to gain at least one point, they will likely need a big performance from their defensive midfielder.

Prediction: Coudet, who will be desperate for a positive result, has the attacking options to gain a narrow victory this Friday. Be sure to also keep an eye on Tijuana striker Gustavo Bou, who should play with more confidence after scoring his first Liga MX goal last week.

Cruz Azul vs Atlas — Saturday, August 19th (3pm PT/6pm ET)

Atlas are quickly falling apart. The Guadalajara squad is not only without team captain Rafael Marquez, but also midfielder Clifford Aboagye. Although Cruz Azul tends to regularly shoot itself in the foot, all signs point to a home win in Mexico City this Saturday.

Cruz Azul form: WDDD (8th place)

Atlas form: WWLL (7th place)

Player to watch: Atlas’ Miguel Fraga, but mostly because I still don’t know if he is a player worthy of his national team call-up over the summer. This Saturday, he will get a chance to prove me wrong against a Cruz Azul side that will keep him busy in net.

Prediction: There’s definitely some internal conflict regarding Cruz Azul manager “Paco” Jemez, but in spite of that problem, the absence of Marquez and Aboagye is far too detrimental for Atlas. You never know with Cruz Azul, but a win here seems probable.

Lobos BUAP vs Club America — Saturday, August 19th (3pm PT/6pm ET)

If it wasn’t for the fact that it won’t be televised, this would be the match of the weekend. Unfortunately, this mouth-watering David vs Goliath battle will only be seen by those in attendance at the Estadio Universitario BUAP. A bit frustrating that we won’t be able to watch the league’s Cinderella team host one of Liga MX’s biggest and most successful clubs.

Lobos BUAP form: DWWL (4th place)

America form: LWWW (2nd place)

Player to watch: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Prediction: On paper, America has the upper-hand, but so did Queretaro and Pachuca before Lobos BUAP defeated them. I’ll go with a thrilling draw that we won’t be able to see.

Veracruz vs Queretaro — Saturday, August 19th (5pm PT/8pm ET)

While Lobos BUAP are stealing all of the underdog headlines, there’s also something brewing with Veracruz. Los Tiburones Rojos have collected two wins in a row and will be eager for their third against an inconsistent Queretaro roster. However, looking over at Los Gallos Blancos, key figures such as Tiago Volpi, Javier Guemez and Camilo Sanvezzo have the talents to halt Veracruz’s newfound momentum.

Veracruz form: LLWW (10th place)

Queretaro form: WLDW (6th place)

Player to watch: Queretaro’s Javier Guemez. It might be too little too late, but another good performance from Guemez might be able to catch the eye of Mexico manager Juan Carlos Osorio.

Prediction: I can’t help but think that this will end in a draw. This might be a match in which goalkeepers Volpi and Pedro Gallese emerge as heroes with their saves in net.

Leon vs Monterrey — Saturday, August 19th (5:06pm PT/8:06pm ET)

There are some comparisons here that can be made between Leon and Monterrey. While both sides love to launch a number of shots in the attack, they also tend to give plenty of possession to the opposition. Unluckily for Leon, Los Rayados are much more deadly off counters and are currently the best team in the league.

Leon form: LLDW (12th place)

Monterrey form: DWWW (1st place)

Player to watch: During Monterrey’s counters, one name that fans must watch is Aviles Hurtado. Thanks to his pace and quick movement, the winger will be sure to be a part of a highlight or two this weekend.

Prediction: It’s scary to see how efficient Monterrey is becoming. Los Rayados are highly organized in defense and near-perfect with their opportunities in the attack. What I’m trying to say here is don’t bet on Leon, Monterrey should win.

That is, unless if the Liga MX gods mess with me and provide Leon with the shock result of the weekend.

Chivas vs Puebla — Saturday, August 19th (7:06pm PT/10:06pm ET)

Manager suspended? Injury problems? Poor run of form? A match against Puebla should do plenty to help Chivas’ woes. Both teams have yet to gain a win in the Apertura, but of the two, Puebla has been much more disappointing in the Apertura. Chivas’ attack should be able to find at least a goal or two against Puebla’s weak backline.

Chivas form: DDDL (16th place)

Puebla form: LDLD (17th place)

Player to watch: With call-ups for Mexico set to be released in a week or two, Chivas’ Orbelin Pineda could benefit from a statement-making performance this weekend.

Prediction: The home field advantage is the true difference-maker here for the Guadalajara club. At home, Chivas should be able to earn three points against one of the worst squads in the league.

Toluca vs Necaxa — Sunday, August 20th (10am PT/1pm ET)

Can Necaxa bounce back after last week’s 3-0 loss to Leon? Los Rayos were easily exceeding expectations until the recent one-sided defeat. As for Toluca, Los Diablos Rojos are quietly thriving in the Apertura with a solid defense that has carried them to two wins and two draws.

Toluca form: DWWD (3rd place)

Necaxa form: WWDL (5th place)

Player to watch: Necaxa’s Jesus Isijara. At his best, the winger is a crafty and quick player that can take apart most Liga MX backlines. Like a few others on this list, another good showing could help him steal attention from Osorio ahead of qualifiers.

Prediction: I’ll probably be proven wrong, but I still believe that Necaxa is an underrated team. On Sunday, I’ll go with a valuable away point against an in-form Toluca squad.

Liga MX match of the weekend

Tigres vs Pumas — Saturday, August 19th (5pm PT/8pm ET)

We should all be watching this game for the striker battle between Tigres’ Andre-Pierre Gignac and Pumas’ Nicolas Castillo. While Gignac has the benefits of working with the most dangerous attack in the league, the ever-lethal Castillo will be hoping to ruin the show on the other end. I do not envy the starting goalkeepers for either side in this match.

Tigres form: WDDL (11th place)

Pumas form: WLLW (9th place)

Player to watch: It has to be Castillo. Despite the fact that Gignac is the Liga MX star striker, Castillo has regularly demonstrated that he is more decisive and productive.

Prediction: Another draw, but one that you won’t want to miss.