Morelia and Toluca open up the new Liga MX season with a clash on Friday night. Both teams will come from recent disappointing seasons and with something to prove. After some good tournament runs in recent years, Morelia failed to qualify last season to the Liguilla. On the other hand, Toluca was able to qualify to the Liguilla and gave eventual champions America a scare in the Quarterfinal, but their disappointment should come over an off season where most fans should feel the team will come with a worse squad than the one they had for the past year after several key players left and no good replacements were brought.
Morelia will host the game hoping to start the season well as they hope to get back on track. Last season, Morelia seemed to have suffered from the departure of top Peruvian striker Raul Ruidiaz, who left for MLS after the World Cup. While Morelia signed another Peruvian national team member in Edison Flores, he came too late in the season to make an impact. It will really help Morelia if he is able to click, especially since the club let go of another impact player, Diego Valdez, who left for Santos. It really doesn’t seem the team made much of a move to improve the squad this off season and Morelia might need more inspiration for another run to the liguilla under Hernandez.
Toluca’s 2018 Apertura was a lot better than Morelia’s, although not compared to the club’s recent history. They got to the Liguilla, and although they exited in the Quarterfinals to current champion America, they gave them more of a scare than the rest of the teams, being only a goal away from eliminating them. Still, if you compare it to their past seasons where they were the league leaders and went all the way to the final until losing to Santos, it was a disappointment.
But nothing could be more disappointing this off season for Toluca fans than losing three key players, as striker Alexis Vegas was sold to Chivas, Luis Quinteros returned to Tigres and more importantly Rubens Sambueza left for Leon. To make matters worse, their big signing, Uruguayan Sebastina “Morro” Garcia, fell through with a series of accusations and fights between the club and the player. However, relief might be on the way with the announcement of the signings of Felipe Pardo from Olympiacos and Emmanuel Gigliotti from Independiente, though neither signing would be available for the start of the season.
The opening clash of the tournament between Morelia and Toluca looked to be exciting on paper but will probably suffer from the inner turmoil of both teams. Still, it looks like Morelia should be a more prepared squad. Morelia should really take the opportunity to face a Toluca team that should be at its weakest point in the whole season on Friday.
Date: Friday, January 4
Time: 5:00pm Pacific, 7:00pm Central, 8:00pm Eastern
Venue: Estadio Morelos, Morelia, México
TV: Univision Deportes Network (US-Spanish), Azteca 7 (Mexico)
Streaming: fuboTV (Free trial + monthly subscription)