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Torneo Guard1anes 2020: Round 3 Review

The weekend was highlighted by Luis Fernando Tena becoming this season’s first rolling head

Pachuca v Queretaro - Torneo Guard1anes 2020 Liga MX Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images

There is a quick turnaround this week, with less than 48 hours between the end of round 3 and the beginning of the next jornada. Before Necaxa and Mazátlan kick off on Tuesday, here is a look at the major storylines from the past few days:

América Held by Inspired Necaxa

It seemed that Miguel Herrera had the perfect chance to finally defeat his bogey club as Las Águilas traveled to Aguascalientes on Friday night. “Piojo” had never beaten Los Rayos with América, but the hosts came into proceedings dead last in the table, with no points and no goals scored after two games.

That Necaxa produced a sparkling display worthy of more than the final 1-1 scoreline speaks to the inherent unpredictability of Liga MX. The visitors went ahead in the sixth minute through a brilliant turn and finish from Federico Viñas, but were insipid thereafter. Meanwhile, Cruz Azul loanee Lucas Passerini was a handful throughout for the América backline who could not come to grips with his physical presence.

The draw keeps Herrera’s men at the top of the standings but the lethargic showing will worry the former El Tri tactician. Sebastián Córdova caught the eye once again, while Roger Martínez was barely involved from his right wing berth. The mercurial Colombian is unplayable at times, and must improve his consistency in order to adequately replace the departed Renato Ibarra.

Tena Out at Chivas

The first coaching casualty of the season came at the Guadalajara giants, who announced the firing of Luis Fernando Tena on Sunday morning. Chivas have taken only one point from their first three matches and sit all the way down in 17th. Goalscoring has been a major issue, with El Rebaño Sagrado the only team yet to find the back of the net.

Tena was not helped by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has kept key performers Fernando Beltrán and Alexis Vega out of action. Those two would undoubtedly improve a weak attack, but things may get worse before they get better up top. J.J. Macías has drawn the interest of Real Sociedad and Marseille in recent days, forcing Chivas to contemplate life without their star striker.

Whether Macías stays or goes, the new manager must lift Chivas into at least a repechaje place by the end of the campaign. The early favorite for the job is Víctor Manuel Vucetich, while former Cruz Azul boss Paco Jémez has also been mentioned. “El Rey Midas” would not turn the 12-time champions into an offensive juggernaut, but his ability to maximize the talent at his disposal makes him the logical choice.

Querétaro Highlight Relegation Fallacy

When promotion and relegation was banned in Mexico for the next five years back in April, concerns were voiced over how the rule would affect the competitive balance of Liga MX. The division’s best would still have incentive to invest heavily in search of titles, but the more modest outfits could relax, safe in the knowledge that their spot at the top table was guaranteed. No team has epitomized this lack of ambition better than Gallos Blancos.

A change in ownership came shortly after the exit of Víctor Manuel Vucetich, who guided the club to a surprise liguilla spot in the Apertura 2019. Most of the squad went too, with no less than nine players shipped off to Tijuana. The majority of the replacements have been procured from second division Atlante, where the new ownership group also has a financial stake.

The upshot is a team utterly lacking in quality. They have battled hard for rookie boss Alex Diego, but are woefully short of punch going forward. Two red cards in the first three contests have not helped matters either. Chivas and Necaxa are still below them, but Gallos are the clear favorites to finish rock bottom based on current evidence.