Here your five conclusions from the tenth week of play in the 2018 Liga MX Clausura.
Cruz Azul in full crisis-mode
After a promising start to the season, things have turned increasingly sour at Cruz Azul. On Saturday, the Cementeros suffered their second straight defeat and their sixth straight game without a win in all competitions, losing 1-0 to Queretaro at home.
These are turbulent times for Cruz Azul, and despite coach Pedro Caixinha’s best attempts, the Cementeros look less and less inspired with every passing game. It almost seems like ages ago since Cruz Azul’s last all-round performance, and even former coach Paco Jemez seems to be saying “I told you so”. Cruz Azul’s latest collapse is just one of many we have seen in recent years. It even has some people wondering if they are still one of Mexico’s “big four”.
Puebla shock Monterrey at home
It is safe to say that with half of the season gone, the surprise team of the tournament has been Puebla. La Franja celebrated coach Enrique “Ojitos” Meza’s 70th birthday(!!) by thumping last season’s superlider, Monterrey, by a score of 3-1. Puebla have been a pain in the neck for a number of teams this season, and among their conquests include victories over Tigres, Cruz Azul, Chivas, and Toluca.
A lot has happened at Puebla since Meza’s appointment. The veteran manager was charged with picking up the pieces from past campaigns, and with a very limited budget has turned his side into a Liguilla-contending team. Most importantly, Puebla’s relegation worries seem like a thing of the past. La Franja do face some tough tests ahead, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see La Franja back in the Liguilla once again.
Pumas collapse continues
Pumas showed to be a serious contender in the first few weeks of the season, but suddenly, the universitarios find themselves with four straight league games without a win, including three defeats, following their 3-0 drubbing at Leon.
Pumas has been suffering a total-system breakdown in recent weeks and deserved to go 3-0 down in Guanajuato. Discipline has been an issue, but manager David Patiño looks to already be short of ideas. Pumas look disparate and wayward, and their over-reliance on Nico Castillo is simply too predictable. The universitarios now find themselves outside of a potential place in the Liguilla, and things are starting to get worrying.
Santos Laguna go top
Santos Laguna are mounting a serious challenge this season in Liga MX. After defeating Necaxa 2-1 away from home, the Guerreros now find themselves top of the league table with 20 points.
Santos are a cut-and-thrust side but also persistent when it comes to the defensive side of things. Djaniniy Tavares has been ruthless in this Clausura, and his 12 goals in 10 matches have enabled the Guerreros to reach a level unseen since they last won the league title. Obviously, there is still a long way to go, but this type of output after 10 weeks will give Santos hope and belief they can do something special.
Clásico Nacional did not disappoint
Despite the 1-1 scoreline, few fans left the Estadio Akron disappointed with what they saw from Chivas and Club America on Saturday. This game was special. From all standpoints, this was as entertaining as it gets.
Often with the Clasico Nacional, both Chivas and Club America fall into this state of anarchism where tactics are thrown away and it all becomes a sloppy back-and-forth affair with very little actual fútbol being played. This game was none of that. Not only was the game thrilling to watch, both teams kept their composure throughout the 90 minutes and showed the best of what they can offer.
From the start, it was Chivas who controlled possession of the ball, looking almost like the team from just a year ago that conquered the 2017 Liga MX Apertura trophy. But as the game progressed, Club America grew into the match, and thanks to a magnificent performance from Oribe Peralta, found a direct avenue to attack their rivals.
The big irony of this match is both goals came almost in reverse. Chivas scored the opener through a long-ball play, while Club America found their equalizer from an Alan Pulido-like move from Oribe Peralta.
At the end, the game was so good, it is hard to imagine a game of both this high level of tactics and entertainment in Liga MX in years. More games like these in Liga MX, please!