Here are five of some of the main takeaways from the third week of play in the 2019 Liga MX Apertura.
VAR still a a mess in Liga MX, as Chivas and Puebla showed
Ah, VAR. It doesn’t matter what you think of this magnificent new piece of technology, we can all agree that Liga MX officials are making a complete utter mess out of it. Chivas vs. Puebla on Friday was just one in an already growing list of games this season in which the video assistant referee has done nothing to improve the actual quality of the refereeing.
The key moment in this match arrived in the 60th minute when Lucas Cavallini appeared to have scored the go-ahead goal for Puebla. Moments later, however, with the help of the VAR, the goal was called back, and in the process Cavallini was shown a straight red card for an apparent foul the midfield.
Now, independently if you think the decision was harsh or not, the match official then went on to cover his tracks by sending off Chivas left back Miguel Angel Ponce, which is a situation the VAR is inherently supposed to avoid because, you know, every play can now be reviewed!
This then leads to the other problem with the VAR in Liga MX. Match officials seem to be nitpicking what calls they should review and what calls they shouldn’t, even when some calls clearly warrant more attention than others. As a consequence, match officials end up hurting one team more than the other and their in-game biases are there for everybody to see.
By the way, if you are wondering how the match ended, it ended 1-1. Sorry Tomas Boy haters.
Caixinha and Cruz Azul are starting to feel the pressure
In and of itself, the fact that Cruz Azul has been considered a contender in each of the last three seasons since Caixinha has taken over the team should be considered a win for the Portuguese manager. But being a contender also means that you assume extra pressures, and we can all agree it’s not a good look when your team is already winless through the first three weeks of the new season. Cruz Azul’s latest collapse happened on Saturday at the Estadio Azteca, where La Máquina was thumped 3-0 by the surprising Querétaro.
Now, it’s not that Cruz Azul have been particularly bad, they were extremely unlucky to concede a last-minute goal to Toluca last week, the problem is Caixinha has the task of reasserting himself in a squad which might start looking at his work as monotonous. It is no secret that in the long term the more tactical coaches have a problem keeping their ideas fresh (just look at Jose Mourinho), and that is something Caixinha might start experiencing soon with La Máquina. For now, it is imperative Cruz Azul get in the winning column as soon as possible, and they’ll have another chance at home next week against none other than newcomers FC Juárez.
Welcome to the Giovani dos Santos show
It was an eventful week in Coapa as Club América saw both Agustin Marchesin and Mateus Uribe seek greener pastures as their much-publicized moves to FC Porto finally came to fruition. Las Águilas’s first task without the duo then came in the form of their first home match of the season against Xolos de Tijuana, where América were able to escape 3-1 winners over the Fronterizos thanks to a superb performance from Giovani dos Santos.
You read that right, Giovani dos Santos was key in giving Las Águilas the win. The 30-year-old’s technical ability was at full display as he helped assist in Renato Ibarra’s go-ahead goal, and then later chipped the goalkeeper with the literal last kick of the game to seal the victory for América.
For Giovani, his move to the Liga MX giants was always about redemption, and judging by his performance on Saturday, he is certainly doing that. The problem is that Miguel Herrera might have no other choice than to speed things up for the former Barca man. Giovani hasn’t been playing more than 45 minutes a game, but with the news that Nico Castillo picked up a fracture during Saturday’s game, we might be seeing a lot more of Giovani as the season progresses.
Monterrey complete comeback with 3-2 win over León
For a second it looked like Monterrey were headed towards their third straight defeat of the campaign, but two goals from Rogelio Funes Mori helped propel Los Rayados to a 3-2 comeback win over León.
It was your typical tale of two halves. León were by far the better side in the first, but Monterrey managed to turn things around in the second, coming from two goals down to earn their first three points of the campaign.
The irony here is that so much was León’s dominance in the first half that in a way they were showing exactly why they should be considered real contenders for the title. However, in the process, it was actually Monterrey who sent out the bigger statement. Though their start of the season hasn’t been great, their comeback underlined why at full potential they are one of the best teams in all of Mexico.
Andre-Pierre Gignac becomes a Tigres legend
Andre-Pierre Gignac made history on Sunday, scoring the winner for Tigres to become the club’s all-time leading goalscorer with 105 career goals. The Frenchman has become synonymous with Tigres, and this goal has helped him cement his place in the history books, not just with Tigres but as one of the best foreign players to ever arrive to Liga MX.
There is not much else to say about Gignac. He is one of the best Liga MX stories of the last few years, and in the future when Liga MX teams look to other countries for reinforcements, they’ll all be looking to find the next Andre-Pierre Gignac.