The international break is over, Mexico has qualified for the World Cup and Liga MX futbol is back! Looking ahead to the return of the 2017 Apertura, here’s a quick match-by-match preview for Week 8.
Puebla vs Cruz Azul — Friday, September 8th (5pm PT/8pm ET)
At the moment, no team is more depressing to watch than Puebla. With only four goals scored in seven games, Los Camoteros will likely struggle against an undefeated Cruz Azul on Friday night. Although the Mexico City club tends to carry around some bad luck, Cruz Azul should have no problems earning a win against the league’s worst team.
Puebla’s recent form: LDWLL (18th place)
Cruz Azul’s recent form: DDWDD (6th place)
Player to watch: Edgar Mendez (Cruz Azul). In spite of his inconsistencies, Mendez appears due for another strong performance. After a quiet match before the international break, expect the winger to step up with more shots on net for Cruz Azul this week.
Prediction: It’s fair to expect the unexpected in the Mexican first division, but as mentioned earlier, there’s no reason why Cruz Azul should lose this one. I’ll go with a 2 or 3-0 victory for the visiting side.
Atlas vs Tigres — Friday, September 8th (7pm PT/10pm ET)
Unfortunately for Atlas fans, newcomer Ravel Morrison is unavailable for Friday’s match. Without the new signing, it’s tough to imagine that Atlas will be able to alter its bad run of form. As for Tigres, there are still issues to be fixed for the Liga MX giants, but their woes can’t compare to those seen from Atlas.
Atlas’ recent form: LLLDL (13th place)
Tigres’ recent form: DLWDW (3rd place)
Player to watch: Miguel Fraga (Atlas). Fraga will have the unenviable task of stopping Tigres’ daunting attack. The goalkeeper will be sure to have a busy night.
Prediction: Atlas will continue to slip down the league table. I’m predicting a 3-1 win for Tigres.
Lobos BUAP vs Morelia — Saturday, September 9th (3pm PT/6pm ET)
Have Lobos BUAP run out of steam? After a brilliant start to the season, the recently-promoted side has looked sluggish with three losses and a draw in its last four games. Although Morelia should be an easy opponent on paper, Los Canarios will be marching into the weekend with two victories in a row — one of which was against Club America.
Lobos BUAP’s recent form: WLLDL (12th place)
Morelia’s recent form: DLLWW (9th place)
Player to watch: Julian Quiñones (Lobos BUAP). At just 20 years of age, the Colombian is currently the top goalscorer in the league. With six goals and one assist, Quiñones is easily the player to watch.
Prediction: I’m not sure who is more likely to steal more points. Lobos BUAP are a wild card, but Morelia will be feeling confident after the win over Club America. I’ll go with my gut-feeling and say that this will end in an exciting 2-2 draw.
Queretaro vs Leon — Saturday, September 9th (3pm PT/6pm ET)
Can Gustavo Diaz save Leon? The new manager of Los Panzas Verdes will need to salvage a season that is quickly falling apart. An away match against a Queretaro roster that is faltering in the attack might be exactly what Diaz and Leon need.
Queretaro’s recent form: DWDLD (11th place)
Leon’s recent form: DWLWL (15th place)
Player to watch: Mauro Boselli (Leon). Like Quiñones for Lobos BUAP, Boselli is an invaluable figure in the frontline for Leon. In fact, the Argentine striker is the only player from Los Panzas Verdes that has scored in the last three games.
Prediction: Queretaro goalkeeper Tiago Volpi will make things complicated for Leon, but with a new manager on the sidelines, the starting XI from Los Panzas Verdes should be eager to impress. I’ll stick with a 2-1 win for Leon.
Monterrey vs Necaxa — Saturday, September 9th (5pm PT/8pm ET)
Another week, another match in which Monterrey should earn three more points. Necaxa has proven to be defensively solid during most of the Apertura, but that said, I don’t think there is anyway that Los Rayos’ backline can stop Aviles Hurtado, Dorlan Pabon and Rogelio Funes Mori.
Monterrey’s recent form: WWWWD (1st place)
Necaxa’s recent form: DLDDW (5th place)
Player to watch: Jonathan Gonzalez (Monterrey). The midfielder isn’t the most imposing player, nor the most talented, but it’s impressive to see the American look so confident at only 18 years age. An intriguing and promising figure.
Prediction: Necaxa might come close to a shocking result, but Monterrey will sneak past with a 2-1 win.
Club America vs Veracruz — Saturday, September 9th (7pm PT/10pm ET)
I’m not fooled by Veracruz’s position in the top eight. The club has stumbled against the league’s best and stolen points from lackluster squads. Looking over at America, manager Miguel “Piojo” Herrera must bounce back after an odd 2-0 loss to Morelia last month.
Club America’s recent form: WWWDL (2nd place)
Veracruz’s recent form: WWDLW (8th place)
Player to watch: Paul Aguilar (America). If there’s one player who should be motivated to stand out this month, it’s Aguilar. After failing to earn a call-up for Mexico, the talented right-back must prove that he is worthy of a spot with El Tri in October.
Prediction: Aside from the loss to Morelia, Las Aguilas have been brilliant during the past several weeks. I’ll go with a 3-1 victory for America at the Estadio Azteca.
Pumas vs Club Tijuana — Sunday, September 10th (10am PT/1pm ET)
The good news for Pumas? Nicolas Castillo is very close to being fit. At time of writing, reports have emerged that the star striker will be ready for Sunday’s clash against an in-form Xolos squad.
Pumas’ recent form: LWLLL (16th place)
Club Tijuana’s recent form: LDWWW (7th place)
Player to watch: Juan Iturbe (Tijuana). Following his Liga MX debut last month, all signs point to a start this weekend for the former Roma player. Placing him alongside Gustavo Bou could prove to be thrilling for Xolos.
Prediction: Tijuana is the favorite here, but if Castillo is healthy, I’m guessing this will end in a 1-1 draw.
Santos Laguna vs Toluca — Sunday, September 10th (4:30pm PT/7:30pm ET)
Despite the poor start, I still believe that Santos have the potential to be a playoff-worthy team. The well-balanced squad is filled with talented names, and against Toluca, Los Guerreros might be able to clinch their second win of the season. Can Santos build off of the previous victory over Leon?
Santos Laguna’s recent form: DLLDW (14th place)
Toluca’s recent form: WDDLW (4th place)
Player to watch: Rubens Sambueza (Toluca). Sambueza is the hard-working engine for Toluca in the midfield. If Santos are hoping to walk away with three points, they must find a way to quiet the clever playmaker.
Prediction: Santos are due for a big win. After the international break, the underrated roster will turn heads with a 2-1 victory at home against Toluca.
Liga MX game of the weekend
Pachuca vs Chivas — Saturday, September 9th (5:06pm PT/8:06pm ET)
The fact that Honda is likely to earn his first start is already good enough to make this the match of the weekend. With the Japanese superstar on one side of the pitch, Chivas will be hungry for their first win of the Apertura on the other. If the current title-holders are looking for a statement result, three points against Pachuca and Honda will get the message across for Chivas.
Pachuca’s recent form: LWWWL (10th place)
Chivas’ recent form: DLLDD (17th place)
Player to watch: Orbelin Pineda (Chivas). Pineda has so far had a very disappointing summer for club and country. If he wants to earn a call-up in October for El Tri, he needs to start stepping up his performances as soon as possible.
Prediction: This should be fun to watch. Due to the fact that both sides will be eager to dictate the pace of the game, Saturday’s match might turn into a very open one. I’ll go with an entertaining 2-2 draw.