I’m joined by Euguene (@GolazodelGringo) to discuss five key questions ahead of today’s start to the new Liga MX campaign.
Biggest new Liga MX addition?
Eugene: Has to be Keisuke Honda being signed by Pachuca. The former A.C. Milan midfielder strengthens an already fearsome Pachuca team.
Rafa: For me, it is not a player or a coach. Lobos BUAP will be participating in their first ever season in the top tier after gaining promotion last May over Dorados, and they are welcomed addition to Liga MX. Don’t be fooled by the fact that their coach, Rafael Puente Jr, used to be a former telenovela star. Lobos play an attractive brand of futbol and they might surprise a team or two this season.
You should watch _________ play this season because....?
Eugene: Tigres because despite losing the CONCACAF Champions League and the Clausura, they’re still one of the best teams and they’re built to win now. Tuca Ferretti’s men are going to look to dominate the Apertura.
Rafa: I know, I know. Nobody likes to watch the 10am PST/1pm EST game that is on every Sunday on Univision. But after two campaigns with Hernan Cristante at the helm, this might be the season where everything starts to come together for Toluca. The Diablos Rojos are a well coached team, and quietly have one of the more well put-together squads in the league.
What team will have their season crash first?
Eugene: Monarcas. I don’t feel like they did enough during the offseason to improve a squad that barely avoided relegation. It’s going to be a tough season for los purepechas.
Rafa: Necaxa. I don’t think anybody was a fan of them when Alfonso Sosa was in charge, and now they have Ignacio Ambriz as their new coach, a back to the basics kind of guy. Nothing about Necaxa speaks to me as a team that will be fighting in the upper half of the table.
The game you are most looking forward to in the 2017 Apertura?
Eugene: For me it’s Tijuana vs. Club America. It’ll be interesting to see how the storylines play out. How will the fans in Tijuana receive Piojo Herrera, Carlos Vargas, and Guido Rodriguez? Eduardo Coudet and the new look Xolos will be fun to watch, and if they start hot this could be the genesis of a new rivalry in Liga MX.
Rafa: Who doesn’t like the Clasico Tapatio? Week 16, Chivas and Atlas face off at the Estadio Chivas. One would assume a game this late into the season will carry Liguilla implications. There is also the fact that Chivas beat Atlas in last year’s Liguilla and went on to win the whole thing.
So who wins the Liga MX title?
Eugene: While I can realistically see about five or six teams getting their names engraved on the trophy come December, I’m going to go with Tigres. I think guys like Andre-Pierre Gignac, Hugo Ayala, and Juninho realize that time is not on their side and that they might not get another shot at it and that pushes them over the top.
Rafa: Jose Manuel “Chepo” de la Torre will win his fourth league title in his career. While Tigres have by far and large the best team in all of Mexico, Guido Pizarro, who was arguably Liga MX’s best player in the last few seasons, is no longer with the team, leaving a huge hole in the midfield for Ricardo “Tuca” Ferretti to deal with. Moreover, I don’t see the defending champs Chivas repeating this time around. As for Santos Laguna, they have a a superb project going on under Chepo, and they have made it a habit of winning league titles in recent seasons.