Here your five conclusions from the third week of play in the 2018 Liga MX Clausura.
Puebla find inspiration in “Ojitos” Meza
When veteran manager Enrique “Ojitos” Meza took over Puebla last season, La Franja were in serious relegation trouble, six points behind Veracruz in the fight for survival. Three weeks into the Clausura 2018, Puebla are 18 points above Veracruz in the relegation table and having one of their best starts to the season in the last few years. Puebla took care of business on Friday, beating Veracruz 2-0, which now makes it three victories in four games for La Franja. When you consider that Puebla have the second most inexpensive squad in all of Liga MX, Ojitos Meza’s work becomes even more apparent. It is still early in the season, but could we be seeing the first steps of a possible return of Puebla in the Liguilla?
Atlas’ collapse continues
Atlas had the unfortunate honor earlier this week of being the first team in the Clausura to fire their manager. After taking a 3-1 thumping from Pumas last week, patience ran out in Colomos and José Guadalupe Cruz was let go as manager of the Rojinegros.
Atlas’ first league game without Cruz in charge was anything but pretty. Toluca went into the Estadio Jalisco and managed to come out with a dominant 3-1 victory, making it six straight defeats stretching across last season.
The good news for Atlas is that there seems to be very little hope for Veracruz, who are sitting dead last in the relegation table. Fighting off relegation, though, has been a constant theme for Atlas in the last few years, which isn’t a good look for a club that is desperate for some sort of glory after more than 65 years of no trophies.
Pachuca get first win of the season against Lobos BUAP
There is nobody doubting the potential of Pachuca. The Tuzos got their first three points of the season, defeating lowly Lobos BUAP 3-1 on Saturday. Pachuca were one of the disappointments of the 2017 Apertura, but things might slowly be picking up for Diego Alonso’s men. The departure of Hirving “Chucky” Lozano to PSV was obviously a huge blow to the club, but one of the problems for the Tuzos last season was injuries. It will be interesting to see if they use this win as a stepping stone to bigger things. In particular, Keisuke Honda has yet to see the best version of Erick Gutierrez, who has been constantly unavailable through injury since the Japanese’s arrival to Mexico. Pachuca have more than enough talent. It seems to just be a matter of putting all these pieces of the puzzle together before they can be treated as a serious threat for a place in the Liguilla.
Chivas finally turn their dominance into points
It wasn’t the best of games, but Chivas got the better of Necaxa, winning 3-1 at the Estadio Victoria, for their first win of the Clausura. Necaxa are far from being a powerhouse in Liga MX, but this win means a lot to a team that has been struggling in turning their dominance into wins. Most importantly perhaps, Chivas found their goalscoring touch again. Alan Pulido scored his first goal in almost seven months, and youngster Ronaldo Cisneros capped off a successful debut with Chivas with a goal. In addition, Eduardo Lopez had another brilliant game, as “Lalo”(formerly known as “Chofis”) continued his promising start to the season.
Chivas will need a couple more performances like these before their stock is good enough to buy again, but this is certainly the kind of outcome more Chivas fans want to see from their team going forward.
Clasico Capitalino ends scoreless
From the start, this match was billed as the game of the week. Red-hot Pumas UNAM hosted Club America in arguably the biggest game in this young 2018 Clausura.
Much of the focus on the build up to this game was on Pumas striker Nico Castillo. But it was the verticality of Club America that did all the damage early. Cecilio Dominguez and Renato Ibarra were especially dangerous against UNAM’s fullbacks. It wasn’t until the second half when Pumas adjusted, and Jesus Gallardo, who has had an underrated start to the season for the felinos, started inspiring the best out of Nico Castillo.
At the end, if anything it wasn’t the worst Clasico Capitalino in history, but it helped back up the credibility these two teams have built after just two weeks into the season. It is fair to say that these two teams will no doubt be fighting for a place in the Liguilla, and who knows, this might not the best last Clasico Capitalino we see this season...