Here your five conclusions from the thirteenth week of play in the Liga MX Clausura.
Club America and Tijuana show little character
This was not quite the match people were expecting between Club America and Xolos de Tijuana. At the Estadio Caliente a few weeks ago, Tijuana managed to eke out a Copa MX win over Las Aguilas, in a game marred by Pablo Aguilar’s headbutt. This time, there was no controversial headbutt. There wasn’t even a goal.
Sure, the final outcome is not bad for either side. The broad picture, though, is the they need to be far better. Tijuana proved little that they can be considered a title contender, and they have just one win in their last seven games in all competitions.
Club America didn’t show any more urgency, but perhaps, psychologically, this was the better result for Las Aguilas. Ricardo La Volpe’s side has an an inviting run of games ahead, four of those being at the Estadio Azteca, and despite missing half their starting lineup through injury, you can never count out the 12-time Liga MX Champions.
Atlas enter the Liguilla frame
It could prove temporary, but after Atlas’ 4-1 win over Querétaro on Saturday, the Rojinegros sit sixth in the league table. Pachuca and Pumas UNAM were dully punished for dropping points this week, and the Tapatios took complete advantage by leapfrogging into a Liguilla position.
Atlas are one of the more exasperating sides to follow in Liga MX, and questions will be asked if they can even build from this win. That said, this speaks of the persistent parity that exists in Liga MX. To put things into perspective, last season’s champion, Tigres, is 12th in the league table and only six points separate 4th place Tijuana from 13th place Chiapas with five games still to play.
Tiburones Rojos continue sinking
So much for Veracruz’s win over Cruz Azul last weekend. The Tiburones Rojos allowed four unanswered goals in the final 20 minutes of their match against Leon to lose their eighth game of the season. Forget the fact that Veracruz dropped two points in this one. This defeat could ultimately prove as one of the most costly for the red sharks. Veracruz’s schedule to finish the season isn’t exactly a piece of cake, and even if the gap with Chiapas is just of three points in the relegation table, they will need a massive win or two in their final five games of the season to have any chance of avoiding relegation.
Was this a sign that Chivas are destined for something special in this Liga MX Clausura? Chivas supporters may still hold a sense of cautiousness, but there is no denying their win over Puebla on Saturday was one to remember.
From the initial whistle, it was a torrid start for the Rebaño, who shockingly went into the break two goals down.
But Chivas pushed on in the second, and thanks to Alan Pulido were able to grab a lifeline in the 55th minute. Thereafter, Chivas turned up the tempo several notches, and after both teams received a red card each, Osvaldo Centurion scored in his own net from a Carlos Fierro cross to put the score leveled at 2-2.
Just when both teams looked like they were going to get share of the spoils, a play that Puebla coach Jose Saturnino Cardozo claims happens just once every 100 years occurred. Fierro, who was having a superb game for the rojiblancos, sneaked behind goalkeeper Cristian Campestrini as he was ready to clear the ball, snatching the ball to score on an empty net. It was a surreal goal and one Chivas fully deserved, no less.
Toluca score impressive victory at Pumas
Toluca’s impressive Clausura continues. After their 1-0 win over Pumas UNAM at the Estadio Universitario, the Diablos Rojos remain top of the league table for another week. This was a nerveless display from Toluca in a venue in which traditionally it is very difficult to earn all three points at.
The winner arrived through goalkeeping howler, but make no mistake, Toluca proved their mental toughness. Every department of Toluca’s team stepped up. From goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera, who was arguably the man of the match, to all of Toluca’s midfielders and forwards who did their best to track back and defend. These are the things that matter in the Liguilla. Toluca are quietly meeting the challenges placed in front of them and look ready to make a run come early May.