Here are some of the main takeaways from the sixteenth and seventeenth week of play in the 2019 Liga MX Apertura.
Inconsistency proving costly for Pumas
And so, the Liguilla race rages on, and one team still struggling to get over the line is Pumas UNAM. The Universitarios started off the week with arguably their best performance of the season, destroying Atlas 5-1 at home, before once again succumbing to their poor play away from Mexico City and settling for a 1-1 draw with Puebla.
The story has been the same for Pumas. They have been able to handle the pressures of playing at home quite well, but outside of the Estadio Olimpico Univeristario, they have been a mess. Ultimately, questions can be asked about the level of play under coach Michel, but the reality is they aren’t going to get anywhere if they don’t manage to at least get something going away from home. Currently, they are just two points back from eighth place Xolos de Tijuana and have games against Juárez (Home) and Pachuca (away) still to play. A win in just one of these games might not end up being enough.
Santos Laguna keep showing they are the real deal
Santos Laguna opened a five-point gap at the top of the league table this week following wins over Querétaro and Club América. The latter one was the big one after the Guerreros came from a goal down to earn an impressive 2-1 win at the Estadio Azteca.
Santos Laguna might never be the flashy option, but the Guerreros know what it takes to win a Liga MX title. You also gotta give credit where credit is due as coach Guillermo Almada has done an excellent job in his first season with Santos Laguna.
As ever, the big challenge now for Santos will be translating this regular-season success to the Liguilla. But beating Club América at the Estadio Azteca is a pretty good indication this team is ready for a battle.
Veracruz finally win a game!
It finally happened! After 41 straight games and more than a year without a single Liga MX victory to their name, the Tiburones Rojos shocked Puebla to a 1-0 win on Tuesday. Obviously, if you’ve been keeping up with Liga MX during the past two weeks, Veracruz have been on the news a lot lately, and while a win won’t help them solve any of the deep front office problems the team has, it was about time they gave their fans something to cheer about.
The interesting thing here is a few days later, they also came close to shocking Monterrey in their own stadium. In fact, Veracruz came within seconds of earning a second straight victory, but in what was a desperate attempt to keep their faint Liguilla hopes alive, an injury-time equalizer helped the Rayados secure a 1-1 draw. Monterrey are now in deep trouble and need something of a miracle if they want to make the Liguilla. They can thank Veracruz for ruining any last-minute plans they had of finishing in the top-eight.
Odds are, despite all the problems the team has, we will be seeing a lot more of Veracruz next season. Whether it’s winning or losing games, we are stuck with the Tiburones Rojos until at least the 2020 Apertura. We say “at least” because you just never know in Liga MX...
Chivas surging a little too late
Speaking of miracles, mathematically Chivas can still make the Liguilla, but you’d probably have a better chance of winning the lottery than seeing the Rojiblancos play in the “fiesta grande”. Perhaps this is the Ricardo Pelaez effect, but after losing to Xolos de Tijuana during the midweek, the Rojiblancos earned their second straight win away from home with a 3-1 win over Toluca to make it just one defeat in their last six across all competitions.
As you might expect, big changes are coming Chivas’ way, so it was nice to see guys like Alan Pulido and Javier Eduardo “La Chofis” Lopez step up for the Rebaño. Peleaz is said to already be manager hunting, and there are even rumors that Chivas are set to cash in on a Jose Juan Macias sale/exchange, with Raul “Dedos” Lopez and Erick Aguirre being part of the deal.
The only way for Chivas is up, and though Chivas fans have every right to be cautious about the future of their club, this new process with a proven sporting director like Pelaez, coupled with results like the one against Toluca, is reason enough to be a little more optimistic about next season.
Xolos miss huge opportunity with Juárez defeat
To put things into perspective, prior to losing to FC Juárez over the weekend, Xolos de Tijuana had just one defeat in their last seven matches across all competitions, which makes this weekend’s defeat to Juárez all that much more painful. The Fronterizos would have practically sealed their place in the Liguilla with a victory, but instead they got thumped by a Juárez side that had just lost 6-1 to Monarcas Morelia.
Destiny is still very much in Tijuana’s hands. The problem is their final two games of the season come against Monterrey and León. The good news, though, is both games are at home, where Oscar Pareja’s side has not lost a game all semester. If they don’t manage to make the Liguilla from this position, they will have nobody to blame but themselves.