Here are your five conclusions from the ninth week of play in the 2018 Liga MX Apertura.
Ferretti’s Tigres and Pachuca end even
Tigres struggled as they had to overcome a 1-0 deficit to earn a 1-1 draw with Pachuca at the Estadio Hidalgo on Saturday. The Felinos were absolutely played out of the park in the first 45 minutes and were lucky not to concede more than once. But a Lucas Zelarayan strike late in the game earned Ricardo “Tuca” Ferretti’s men a share of the spoils in the always difficult Hidalgo.
Tigres’s first half of the season was far from impressive, and seventh in the table is hardly where you’d expect a team of their calibre to be standing at this point of the season. What many are now asking themselves is if Ferretti’s interim gig with the Mexico National Team is the reason for their latest underwhelming performance. Tigres did look a bit hungover to start the game, and upper management didn’t seem too happy with the lack of gratitude the Mexican Federation showed towards Tigres. That, however, may be looking to much into it, and at the end of the day, nobody is doubting Tigres will be one of eight teams fighting for the title come late November.
Las Águilas make it two straight wins
It was business as usual on Saturday at the Estadio Azteca, with Club América claiming a 2-1 win over Monarcas Morelia. Things are starting to pick up again for Miguel Herrera’s men. They have now gone four straight games without a defeat in all competitions and find themselves third in the league table, just three points away from league leaders Cruz Azul.
It is worth mentioning América are still a team in the process of getting healthy, and apart from Jeremy Menez, it looks like it is a matter of time before we see an Águilas team at full strength. This, of course, could mean trouble for the rest of the league as we inch closer to the business end of the regular season. Their next game is a tough visit away to Puebla, and América are to win there, perhaps it is time to start taking this Águilas team a bit more seriously.
Cruz Azul finally lose their undefeated status
It took 10 weeks for Cruz Azul to suffer their first defeat of the season, as they fell 2-0 to Necaxa at the Estadio Victoria. It was bound to happen eventually, and while it’s not worth reading too much into it, it does level the playing field to a certain extent. The gap at the top of the league table is just three points, and if Cruz Azul were to suffer a shock defeat to Atlas, they could fall into second place as soon as next week.
From a Necaxa point of view, this was another brilliant coup from coach Marcelo Michel Leaño. Necaxa have shown glimpses here and there under the young 31-year-old manager, but ultimately, they haven’t show the level of consistency required to challenge for a place in the Liguilla. It’s going to take more than a win against the league leaders if Leaño wants his team to have a chance to finish the regular season amongst the top eight.
Chivas shock Monterrey at the Sultana
Wins don’t come better than Chivas’s on Saturday at the Estadio BBVA Bancomer. The Rebaño Sagrado returned from the international break with a 4-2 win over Rayados.
Giving away leads in the second half has been a problem all season for Monterrey, and what is possibly most frustrating about it all is that they haven’t been playing too bad. There is no denying that even with a banged up Rogelio Funes Mori Monterrey have one of the best offenses in all of Liga MX, and they are certainly finding ways to reach the final third. The amazing thing is they don’t seem to know what to do once they get there.
That is no problem of Chivas, who scored four times in their limited amount of chances, In particular, credit has to go to Issac Brizuela who is playing some of his best fútbol in recent months. Chivas are now ninth in the league table and within touching distance of Liguilla positions.
Pumas go second with win over Lobos BUAP
Such is how things work in Liga MX that Pumas UNAM now find themselves in second place after beating Lobos BUAP 4-2 on Sunday. You’d have a hard time arguing why Pumas are currently the second best team in Mexico, but at least statistically, that’s how things stand at the moment.
It’s not that Pumas are bad team, it’s that they haven’t shown the necessary arguments to be considered genuine contenders, especially under current coach David Patiño. It’s also easy to forget it was just Lobos BUAP they beat. Only Atlas has been worse this season. Don’t get too excited, Pumas fans.