All eight teams competing in the Copa por México have played their first game of the tournament. No real surprises, as there weren’t any actual upsets. The group tables might not stand exactly as they were foreseen to, but undoubtedly still have the time to be corrected and more than likely will be. Let’s have a look at what stood out the most from this first round of games.
The first game corresponded to Group B teams Mazatlán FC and Tigres. The game ended in a 0-0 draw, but if you watched the game, it should’ve been far from that score. Tigres created many opportunities and were just not on target enough, as Mazatlán keeper Miguel Fraga showed off his goal-stopping ability and prevented Ferretti’s team from ever taking a lead. Gignac was a bit off as well, as he had an open shot in the first half go way over the crossbar and a free kick in the second half just miss the crossbar as well. Not to mention, a shot by Aquino that was deflected and then hit the crossbar, which by some divine intervention didn’t find the net afterward. Mazatlán got very lucky and came out with a draw that had a victory-like taste.
The second game was between Group A squads América and Toluca, which ended in a 2-0 victory for Miguel Herrera’s side. América played a solid game and took the lead on a blunder by Toluca keeper Luis García, who should’ve sent the ball wide instead of trying to keep it on the soaking wet grass with the rain pouring down. Finally, as half-time approached, a low cross sent in by Giovani Dos Santos, which would’ve been easily cleared in any other situation, found itself resulting in an own goal by Toluca defender Adrián Mora, thanks to his slip on the wet grass at the moment he tried to clear the ball, which ricocheted off his shin and got passes keeper García. They never really responded in the remainder of the game. Basically, two mistakes sunk Toluca in this one.
Moving on to Saturday’s game, the night started off with the Mexico City derby between Pumas and Cruz Azul, a Group A matchup, which ended 4-1 in favor of La Máquina, who amazingly put on this display with a mostly under-20 squad. After taking a very early lead in the game, Pumas missed their defensive coverage on two dead ball crosses, allowing Cruz Azul to turn the game around before the half. In the second half, as Pumas defender Luis Quintana blocked a pass, he accidentally ended up passing the ball perfectly to Elías Hernández, who took advantage of the mishap, and scored his team’s third goal with just over 25 minutes to go in the game. Pumas showed great weakness defensively in this one.
The fourth and final game of the weekend was the Group B “Clásico Tapatío” between Chivas and Atlas. Chivas proved superior after a 2-0 victory. Rafa Puente Jr.’s squad continues to make mistakes on the defensive end, and he continues his terrible head coaching record since arriving at the club back in January. Atlas RB Luis Flores essentially gave up and wasn’t ready for the change-of-pace move by Jesús Angulo, who assisted J.J. Macías for the 1-0 lead. 15 minutes later, it was Angulo who was left all alone, and beat Atlas keeper José Hernández one-on-one. Puente Jr. continues to show he is not ready by losing match after match and being unable to straighten out his sinking ship.
The on-paper predictions almost match the way things are shaping up in each group. Group A should have its two current top teams (Cruz Azul and América) move on to the semis, with the exception that América should take over as group leader. Over in Group B, I still expect Tigres to finish as group leaders, followed by current group leader Chivas. Mazatlán and Atlas just don’t have enough there to make it out of the group stage. Week 2 matches begin tomorrow.