Here are your five conclusions from the eleventh week of play in the 2018 Liga MX Apertura.
After 11 weeks, Atlas get first win of the season
It’s never pretty when it comes to Atlas, but on Friday, the Rojinegros notched their first win of the season after defeating Toluca 2-0 at the Estadio Jalisco. It took them 11 weeks and a half-empty stadium, but they got the job done against a Toluca that team that played most of the match with ten men. Albeit controversially, it was Rubens Sambueza who got sent off for the Diablos Rojos, and although this was only his first red card of the season, it severely conditioned a Toluca side that had entered the match with four straight wins across all competitions. Atlas will, no doubt, take this victory, but at this point of the season, spoiler may be the best they can hope for as they sit dead last in the league table.
Gignac double leads Tigres past Querétaro
This isn’t a sight the rest of Liga MX likes to see. Andre-Pierre Gignac was on target twice, as Tigres were 2-0 victors over Gallos Blancos on Saturday. The Frenchman started the season hot before eventually cooling off, but his latest double is proof that he is still one of the best strikers in all of Liga MX. Yes, the goals were partly circumstantial, but the 32-year-old did look active throughout the match.
With the brace, Gignac now leads all goalscorers with eight, and his two goals were also enough to help Tigres keep their place amongst the top eight. As we get down to the business end of the season, Gignac’s importance can’t be discounted. This is when Tigres play best, and when Gignac tends to leave his mark the most.
Pachuca hand Cruz Azul second defeat behind Victor Guzman
Remaining under the radar, Pachuca put in another brilliant performance, defeating league leaders Cruz Azul 3-1 at the Estadio Hidalgo. Pako Ayestaran’s time at Pachuca remains a work in progress, but along with the masterclass display against Chivas back in Week 8, this game against Cruz Azul ranks at the very top since the Spanish manager took over for Diego Alonso at the start of the season.
You can say Cruz Azul’s first half red card was a difference maker, but even before that, Pachuca were by far the better team on the field. In particular, Victor Guzman earned man of the match honors after dishing out three assists. Guzman is a stat-filler but has suffered from the occasional lapse of judgement when it comes to the academic part of the game. In that respect, there might not be anybody better for Guzman at this stage of his career than Ayestaran. In fact, Guzman has seen his level of play rise under the 55-year-old’s guidance and has played a part in eight of Pachuca’s 14 goals scored this season.
Monterrey get much-needed win over Tijuana
After a disastrous stretch of four weeks in which Monterrey went winless in Liga MX, Diego Alonso’s men returned to winning ways on Saturday, defeating Xolos de Tijuana 3-0. The game had to be ended early due to the rain, but that was no fault of the Rayados who took care of business in front of a disheartened Estadio BBVA Bancomer home crowd. The Rayados are currently suffering from a bad injury crisis, and their PR hasn’t been exactly the best following the incidents of their ultras in last week’s Clasico Regiomontano. That’s why, this match was something of an early must-win game under the rain of Guadalupe.
In addition to the three points, perhaps the most important thing here was that star striker Rogelio Funes Mori scored his first goal since returning from injury. It was a nicely taken shot from the big Argentine, who will need to be an important piece on the attack if Rayados plan on getting far in this Apertura.
Gudiño snatches all the Clásico Nacional headlines
There is very different ways to interpret this Clásico Nacional. Tactically, you could say that Club América was the better team in the first half, and after they lost some of that discipline in the second period, Chivas almost fortuitously(because an offside) took the lead following a splendid play from Josecarlos Van Rankin. Las Águilas then lost all shape and form while piling on the pressure, and just like Chivas got lucky in their goal, it took a deflection for las Águilas to equalize.
The one moment of real drama came during the last minute of the match. Raul Gudiño was spectacular all game, but a penalty was called for a tackle on Henry Martin. This is the part of the game where everybody can agree with, Gudiño was a determinant figure in this Clásico. With the last kick of the match, Mateus Uribe was unable to get the ball past Gudiño from the spot, as the 22-year-old made a diving save to rescue draw for his team at the Estadio Azteca.
You could say this was Gudiño’s coming out party. He has always been touted as one of Mexico’s most promising young goalkeepers and he showed exactly why in this Clásico Nacional.
Gudiño’s performance, though, will likely mask some of the problems both teams showed through the 90 minutes. Club América have failed to convince their fans after 11 Weeks, while Chivas continue to find themselves in the outer edges of the Liguila. To put it bluntly, both teams will have to do better in what remains of the season or likely suffer the same fate of last season.