The new Liga MX season opens Friday. Here are five storylines to keep an eye out for this 2016 Liga MX Apertura.
Monterrey area takes center stage
It's never an easy thing, to guess who will win the Liga MX title. But for a while now, the metropolitan area of Monterrey has taken center stage in Liga MX. Make no mistake, this season promises much of the same.
A surfeit of talented players in the two big clubs of the region, has brought both sides, Tigres and Monterrey, to be natural contenders again. On one side you have Tigres, backed by the ever-present Ricardo "Tuca" Ferretti and star forward Andre-Pierre Gignac. On the other, Monterrey, who seek redemption after losing last season's final by the narrowest of margins.
Last season, Tigres were perhaps too patient. You could say possession was never a concern, but while they failed to capitalize at one end, they would get punished at the other. With that in mind, Tigres came out of the offseason with the signing of Ismael Sosa, one of the biggest transfers in the Liga MX season. Sosa adds an added oomph in the final third, which makes an already talented team even more dangerous.
Likewise, Monterrey took to the offseason in search of getting better, but in truth, all Monterrey lacked last season was a bit of luck. Antonio "Turco" Mohamed's men sustained their league dominance all the way to the last minute of the final game, where an unheralded Victor Guzman snatched the title away from Monterrey in the dying seconds. In that regard, they don't need to hide entirely behind the famous cliche of "el futbol da revenchas". You have to believe they already have enough to get the job done this time around.
The era of Chivas TV
No TV deal, no problem. On June 29, Chivas CEO Jose Luis Higuera presented Chivas TV to the public, a new way to watch Chivas home games through your computer and mobile device. The critical reception, though, was not very favorable. Most notably, not many were exactly thrilled with the pricing of the product, prompting media to create a vilifying narrative of the team.
In that respect, the essence of what really matters here, futbol, has been lost in all the theater. The fact of the matter is Chivas is still a very good team, as evidenced in their SuperCopa MX victory over Veracruz last Sunday. Matias Almeyda's side added four new players, the sort of moves that are meant to add to the team's array of already talented young players.
The way things are going, the Chivas TV criticism isn't going to stop. It is now time for Chivas to seize the moment and turn skeptics into believers. Not just of their new streaming service but of their team too.
On October 12, 2016, Club America will celebrate their 100th year of existence. That is a big deal. In their 100-year history, Las Aguilas have trudged on to become the most winning team in Mexican futbol history and arguably one of the two most popular in North America. As such, what better way to celebrate your centenary year than by winning the league title?
Las Aguilas have stuck with practically the same team that lost in the semifinals to Monterrey last season, with the minor additions of Silvio Romero, Renato Ibarra, and Bruno Valdez. A strategy that is both bold and uncanny for a team like Club America. It's one thing to bet on consistency. It's another to do it in a season where you would have expected the team to commit waves of money on new players with the intent of winning the league title.
That said, you can never count out a team like Club America. You may or may not like them but they matter. There is a reason they have 12 league titles to their name. They find ways to win.
The 10/8 rule
They say it's not until time does its work that you get to see the real impact of things. The 2016 Liga MX Apertura will be the first time the 10/8 rule comes into place. If you follow Liga MX on a regular basis, you've probably heard of the 10/8 rule discussed and debated numerous times in the past few weeks.
To make long story short, Mexican teams are now allowed at most 10 foreign players and at least eight Mexican players in their game-day roster. In addition, naturalized citizens are no longer categorized as Mexican. What does this all mean? Well, for the majority of fans, players, and media, criticism behind the rule stems in the fact that the Mexican player can now be the minority in a team. In turn, damaging the development of the Mexican player and ultimately the national team.
Of course, these are theories for now, and will be theories until at least the end of the season. We haven't had the chance to see just how much this rule will affect things in Liga MX. One thing is for certain, though, this is one topic that won't go away anytime soon. Expect it to be a topic of discussion throughout the Apertura season.
Always expect the unexpected
This is Liga MX. There's certainly plenty of talented teams this season, but it's always too early to make any concrete conclusions. One of the best things about Liga MX is precisely the fact that any team can go on to win the league. For example, we can say Tigres and Monterrey are favorites, but we really can't say Liga MX is a two-team show. Santos Laguna or even a team like Queretaro could just as easily go on to top the league and position themselves as favorites to win the league. It's all part of what makes Liga MX great.