The second round of the group stage has been completed, leaving us with only one round to go before the four teams who advance to the knockout stage are decided. Both group standings have begun to settle in a much more expected way than how we saw them after the first round.
Let’s begin with Group A. On Tuesday, Pumas and América squared off in what is another Mexico City derby, with the score ending in a scoreless draw. It was not as appealing as one would expect, and the moment that stood out from this one wasn’t even on the pitch; it was more on the bench, when Miguel Herrera violated the distancing and facemask protocols. As usual, Herrera proved he can’t control his rage when a call doesn’t go his way, and decided to get up in the Pumas’ bench face, with Pumas’ assistant coach Israel López having to separate “Piojo” from the rest of his coaching staff. It doesn’t seize to amaze how Herrera continues with his child-like rants picking out fights with anyone.
The other Group A game was played on Wednesday, and featured error-prone Toluca and high-flyers Cruz Azul. It was another game where we saw lack of play creation and very still teams on the pitch. Not much was required from Siboldí’s team to come away with the three points in this one, as the game’s only goal came on a nice combination between Cruz Azul’s attackers, resulting in a wide-open Juan Escobar canon just outside the 6-yard box which easily found its way to the back of the net. Following the two Group A matches, Cruz Azul leads the group with 6 points, followed by América with 4. Pumas and Toluca, with 1 and 0 respectively, are pretty much playing spoiler at this point. I expect América to defeat ‘La Máquina’ in their final group game and claim Group A.
Looking over at Group B, it started on Tuesday’s match between Atlas and Mazatlán, which ended up in a 1-0 Atlas victory. In what was another painfully slow and uneventful match, a mistake by the Atlas defense in the 76th minute left Mazatlán’s with a one-on-one opportunity with Atlas keeper Edgar Hernández, which the keeper was able to block, only to see the ball fall to Miguel Sansores’ feet which he couldn’t take advantage of and sent the ball wide of the post. Eight minutes later, a corner kick cross for Atlas was headed straight to the back of net by Jesús Gómez, and Rafa Puente Jr. won his second game as Atlas head coach.
The group’s second game featured Tigres and Chivas; a game where the home team was just no match for “Tuca” and company, as they easily came out victors by a score of 2-0. The first goal arrived on a Leo Fernández cross which ended in a Gignac goal thanks to three Chivas defenders’ mistakes: first, the cross wasn’t timed well by the defenders, second, Gignac was left unmarked, and third, keeper “Toño” Rodríguez should’ve come out to clear that ball away. Any ball in the 6-yard box has to be the keeper’s. The second goal came eight minutes into the second half, as Gignac proved his brilliance once again and poked a shot past a diving Gudiño to give Tigres the definitive lead. Chivas had no answer the rest of the game.
Tigres stand as group leaders with 4 points as expected, while Chivas and Atlas follow with 3, and Mazatlán tailing with 1. Tigres should have no problem defeating a weak Atlas in the final game of the group, which would help them secure first place. In the other match, I can’t see Chivas losing to Mazatlán. A draw sounds best between the two, which would give Chivas second place in the group. Atlas and Mazatlán have nothing to do competing in the knockout stage, bringing nothing but dullness to the table. In short, expect the tournament semifinalists to be Tigres, Chivas, América, and Cruz Azul. These teams should help bring the Copa por México to an exciting conclusion. The final round of the group stage begins tomorrow.