Here your five conclusions from the first week of play in the 2018 Liga MX Clausura.
Puebla shock champions Tigres in season opener
Such has been Tigres’ dominance of Liga MX in recent seasons, our myopic eyes tend to forget Ricardo “Tuca” Ferretti’s men have made a habit out of the starting the season slow. On Friday, defending champions Tigres suffered an opening day defeat, losing 2-1 to Puebla at the Estadio Cuauhtemoc.
There were, undoubtedly, several gasps of surprise, but whether this was just an early symptom of Tigres’ “Campeonitis” or not, credit has to go to Puebla. The presence of veteran manager Enrique “Ojitos” Meza in the team bench has given Puebla a more durable look. Colombian Christian Marrugo look particularly good in the attacking midfielder role, and Christian Tabó and Alonso Escoboza did a good job stretching the field. Francisco Acuña was also decisive, scoring the eventual winner with 11 minutes to go in the game.
It is assumed that Tigres will grow wise as the tournament goes on. To their defense, they arrived to this game with essentially no preseason training and with less days of rest than any other team. For now, they will have to cope with another losing start to their season, while Puebla enjoy a promising start.
Don’t sleep on Leon
As expected, when we talk about contenders for the league title you get both teams from Nuevo Leon and a bit of Club America sprinkled in the mix. Despite finishing last season on the ascendancy and coming close to eliminating Tigres in the Quarterinfals, many fail to mention one team, Club Leon.
On Friday, La Fiera started the season the right way by defeating Atlas 2-1 away from home. It wasn’t the most decorated result, but it’s the way that the players have bought into Gustavo Diaz’s philosophy that makes this Leon team so dangerous. Stylistically, their ability to make stuff happen in transition, while tailoring towards their best player’s traits makes this team worthy of consideration. Everybody seems to be on the same wavelength, and if they can find some consistency, the rest of Liga MX has been warned.
Cruz Azul show promising signs in Caixinha’s debut
It’s always difficult to judge a team after one game, but there continues to be legitimate reason to be excited if you are a Cruz Azul fan. Perhaps it wasn’t the result they wanted, finishing scoreless with Xolos de Tijuana at home, but if you consider that this is only Week 1, it wasn’t the worst result for La Maquina and Pedro Caixinha. Sure, Cruz Azul suffered from the same problem they did under Paco Jemez, they can’t finish off their chances, but all things considered, it was a healthy first step for La Maquina and their Portuguese manager.
The question is whether they will pose more of a threat with the arrival of Walter Montoya and Carlos “Gullit” Peña because they are clearly missing a spark in the final third. Carlos Fierro is a good player but not great, and you can play as well as anybody but you don’t win games without scoring goals. The good news is they have time to figure it out, although their next game is a tricky one against none other than Chivas. The pressure is on, Caixinha!
Chivas and Toluca finish in 1-1 stalemate
Speaking of Chivas, the Rebaño Sagrado came from a goal behind to earn a 1-1 draw against Toluca on Sunday.
Contenders or pretenders? There is no doubt both Chivas and Toluca are compelling sides with an interesting group of players each, but they have a lot of growing to do after just one week. Throughout the 90 minutes, both teams had their moments, but there wasn’t anything particularly special to highlight from either club. Toluca continue to be more of a route one team, heavily dependent on the aerial ability of their forwards, while Chivas like to monopolize the possession of the ball, despite still receiving very little creativity from their players out wide.
The end result, a draw that does little to answer the question. Contenders or pretenders? Only time will tell.
Optimistic start for Las Aguilas
Club America started their season off on the right foot as they defeated Queretaro 1-0 on Sunday. Miguel Herrera’s side was clearly the better team, and a brilliant Henry Martin strike in the first half helped the azulcremas seal their first three points of the season.
This was a rather optimistic result for Las Aguilas. Far from a smashing performance, sure, but it didn’t have to be. Las Aguilas looked good in several facets of the field, and all of this without several of their key players. Guido Rodriguez and Edson Alvarez were serving suspensions, and not to mention, promising new signings Jéremy Ménez and Andrés Ibargüen haven’t even joined the team yet.
For Miguel Herrera, there is plenty of time for him to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. A puzzle Club America fans hope reveals a picture of the 2018 Liga MX Clausura trophy. at the end of the season.