Here are your five conclusions from the opening week of play in the 2019 Liga MX Apertura.
León flex their muscle in their first game of the season
If there is one thing in Liga MX that is hard to come by, it is definitely consistency. Heading into this 2019 Liga MX Apertura, the biggest question mark for last year’s surprise runner-up, León, was if they could build from last season and carry that momentum into the new season. Well, the results are in for the first week, and León passed with flying colors.
In essence, the game was over by halftime, as La Fiera got their first three points of the season by defeating Pachuca 3-1. What is impressive here is that the win came away from home, and against a team that is largely considered to be one of the favorites to make the Liguilla.
Perhaps reports of León’s death have been greatly exaggerated, and this is the start of another great season for La Fiera. Ignacio Ambriz and his team certainly look ready.
Pumas UNAM capitalize in San Luis
Atletico San Luis suffered a disappointing return to Liga MX on Saturday, as Pumas UNAM scored twice in the second half to clinch a 2-0 win at the Estadio Alfonso Lastras.
For starters, it’s worth mentioning that it’s good to have fútbol back in San Luis, one of the most passionate plazas in the whole country. Unfortunately for them, Pumas UNAM had to spoil the party.
Atletico San Luis didn’t look particularly bad, and it is arguable they actually played a better game than Pumas up until the first goal. However, it ended up being a dream start for new coach Michel, who you could tell has left an early mark in the team. It is safe to say that the Universitarios have struggled in recent seasons, but you get the feeling that the only way is up now with an established manager like the former Real Madrid midfielder.
Club América start the season all guns blazing
Obviously, it’s still early in the season, but Club América sent a statement on Saturday by defeating title hopefuls Monterrey by a score of 4-2 at the Estadio Azteca. Yes, the Rayados defense was a complete disaster and Las Águilas duly capitalized on that, but the fact of the matter is this team is good and will only get better as the season progresses.
From the onset, Miguel Herrera has not been shy in saying this is perhaps the best group of players he has ever coached, and you feel like tactically, there are only a team or two that could possibly outmatch Las Águilas.
To put things into perspective, nobody seems bothered to mention that this team just lost Edson Alvarez to Ajax even when Alvarez is arguably one of Mexico’s most promising defensive prospects in recent history. That’s what happens when you have the kind of depth that América has.
The defending champs survive their first big scare
Speaking of title contenders, there is the defending champions Tigres, who survived their first big scare of the season in a 4-2 win over Monarcas Morelia. For a moment it looked like Monarcas Morelia would be able to snatch a 3-3 draw from the Estadio Universitario, but Javier Aquino scored in the dying moments of the match to give Los Felinos a deserved three points.
Like with León, Tigres’s biggest challenge will be gaining consistency, because while we know Tigres are more than capable of repeating as back-to-back champions, it’s matter of getting things right physically and mentally. For now, there is no signs of the famous “campeonitis”, and to their fortunate, their next league rival is none other than Chivas.
Chivas get thumped in Apertura debut
Yes, Chivas were hugely underwhelming in their 2019 Liga MX Apertura debut, losing 3-0 to Santos Laguna at the Estadio Corona.
This hardly comes as a surprise to anybody given how poorly the team has been playing under Tomas Boy. They were clearly outplayed by the Guerreros, and overall, confidence remains at an all-time low in Guadalajara.
Whether it is the coach’s fault or the players’ fault, the reality is that this team is not very good. It’s going to take something real special to turn this club around, and until then, it’s hard to imagine Chivas fighting for a place in the Liguilla. Matias Almeyda, where are you?