Here your five conclusions from the eighth week of play in the Liga MX Clausura.
The Jimmy Lozano revolution at Queretaro
The worst-case scenario for Queretaro when they hired Jimmy Lozano was they would rebuild, clean up, and get ready for next season under a more experienced manager. But after less than four weeks on the job, Jimmy Lozano might want to start asking for a contract extension. Lozano has been genuinely outstanding in charge of los Gallos Blancos, and on Saturday, his side defeated Pumas UNAM 4-3.
Queretaro took the lead in somewhat fortunate circumstances when Pumas center back Pablo Jaquez scored an own goal, but Lozano’s side never looked back after that. Lozano has been talismanic for Queretaro. It is not just the fact that the team is winning games but they are playing some outstanding football.
Often, deep into the second half, Queretaro never stopped pressing and staying alert for any mistakes. They were a vibrant attacking force when going forward, and above all, they were clinical. To put it simply, it was refreshing to see, especially from a young Mexican manager like Lozano.
Peralta double sinks Cruz Azul in Clásico Joven
The low point of Cruz Azul’s season came at the Estadio Azteca on Saturday when Oribe Peralta scored twice to lead Club America to a deserved Clasico Joven victory. In the buildup to this match, the game was kindly nicknamed the “Guillotine Clasico” as both managers arrived in the hot seat for their respective club.
As has been the theme for coach Paco Jemez and his Cruz Azul team, the goals didn’t tell the full story. For this game, Jemez reconstructed the defense and went to a three center-back system. Cruz Azul looked nervy at times, but they were the most solid of the two sides in the early exchanges. Stylistically, Jemez’s attack-first strategy certainly has its advantages, but like in their previous matches, they just couldn’t deliver.
In contrast, Ricardo La Volpe made just one key change, opting to go back to Oribe Peralta as a sort of interior midfielder, and it paid off hugely for el “Bigoton”. Peralta was not just sensational without the ball and with his back to goal, he scored twice to give his manager a much-needed boost.
Fortunately for Jemez, the defeat didn’t cost him his job, and perhaps that’s the best decision the Cruz Azul board could make at this point of the season. But to compete in Liga MX and in every other league in the world, you need to take your chances. Cruz Azul’s meek performances in front of goal need a solution, or Jemez won’t last very much longer in Mexico.
Puebla back on track under Cardozo
After a difficult start to the season where Puebla seemingly descended back into relegation problems, La Franja looks to have taken a step in the right direction with the hiring of Jose Saturnino Cardozo.
On Sunday, Cardozo, who is widely considered one of the greatest players in the history of Toluca, was welcomed back to the Estadio Nemesio Diez, and couldn’t have had a better return, leading Puebla to victory. It wasn’t just a one-off victory either, Puebla were ruthless. After taking a 2-0 lead, La Franja just kept coming, and ultimately, left “La Bombonera” with an impressive 3-1 win.
Puebla have now gone undefeated in their last four league games, including two straight victories. After Sunday, many are now looking at Puebla as a side with some real promise.
Disaster for Chivas in Chiapas
Everything from halftime until the end of the game was an unmitigated disaster for Chivas. Matias Almeyda, having seen his team tear apart Chiapas in the first half, could only watch in horror as Chiapas fought back to earn a thrilling comeback victory.
Chivas’ problems always seem to multiply in the second half, and here, it was no different. A landslide took hold of the Rebaño Sagrado, and in a matter of seconds, Chiapas erased a two-goal deficit before eventually running away 4-3 victors.
This, of course, continues to be frustrating to watch for Chivas fans. It is becoming increasingly disturbing how slow this team is to react to adverse situations. Are Chivas not as good as people claim? It is fair question to ask after a performance like that.
Santos remain undefeated but...
The good news for Santos Laguna fans is that the team remains as the only undefeated side left in the Liga MX Clausura season. The bad news, though, is that their record is only good enough for seventh in the league table. On Sunday, Santos earned their astounding sixth draw of the season by finishing in a 2-2 stalemate with Necaxa.
Admittedly, coach Jose Manuel “Chepo” de la Torre has done a good job changing the story at Santos, but like other managers in the league, he has struggled to close out victories. These struggles can be seen as a real shame because, although they don’t play an expressive brand of football like Chivas, Pachuca, or Pumas, they impose themselves on games in a manner in which reminds us why Chepo was once considered one of the best managers in the league.
Moreover, Santos have a nice core of youngsters on their side, and that’s without mentioning that the bulk of the Mexico U-20 team participating in the CONCACAF U-20 Championship is from Santos Laguna’s youth set-up.
Of course, we are just getting to the halfway point of the regular season. For now, Santos have shown they have something interesting they can build on. It is just a matter of turning those draws into wins.