Liga MX is back. After a 26-day wait since witnessing León crown themselves vs. Pumas, the Guard1anes 2021 season kicks off tonight in Puebla with the Puebla - Chivas matchup, which will also be the first official match played by a Mexican team in 2021. Not many changes occurred during the winter break, with most clubs giving their squads a routine maintenance check-up, but no major moves were made generally speaking, due to the COVID-affected economy, other than, dare I say, Querétaro signing Ecuadorian Antonio Valencia.
With that said, there are some interesting matchups on hand for this weekend which are worth noting and including in our Round 1 BOLD PREDICTIONS:
- Tijuana get opening day victory. After a wretched Guard1anes 2020 season resulting in only 15 points, as well as a 10-loss campaign, Xolos are looking to bounce back and make things right with their fans. To prove it, the return of Julián Velázquez and addition of Brayan Angulo on the defensive end, as well as the return of striker Fidel Martínez, should help bolster this squad and will provide them with meaningful upgrades on both ends of the pitch after owning the worst offense (12 goals) and being a top 5 worst defense last season. Pumas, on the other hand, have lost three important players in Mayorga, Iniestra, and striker Carlos González, along with failing to replace any of them. In fact, they have yet to add a single player to their roster for this upcoming season. After a tremendously inconsistent Guard1anes 2020 season and the loss of three key players for the UNAM club, I expect the home team to start the season off on the right foot. Tijuana take this one.
- Champs fall on the road to Tigres. Neither of these teams made major changes to their squads. In fact, both have added just three new players that are meant to help keep the current squad in check. After being crowned league champs less than a month ago, I predict León will look a bit slow on the pitch, as the Apertura champions usually do, while Tigres, despite having won the CONCACAF CL, are hungry to reestablish themselves in the Liga MX pecking order after an abrupt Liguilla exit in the QF. Tigres claim their first game of the season.
- Santos will extend Cruz Azul’s free fall. This is not an easy one. Santos haven’t given me much arguments to go all in on this one. However, after failing to add a single player to their roster thus far, and letting go of both Jonathan Borja and Milton Caraglio, as well as barely confirming Juan Reynoso as their new head coach this past week, this team is in shambles and I wouldn’t expect much out of them early on, despite the talent they still have on the roster. Santos haven’t made any real additions to get significantly better, but we all know how tough it is for visiting teams to go into the TSM Corona and come away with a positive result. Despite losing Furch, Garnica, and Van Rankin, the combination of the previous two elements spell out further disaster for Cruz Azul in my mind. After two heartbreaks in two consecutive matches, look for the agony to continue through this week for Cruz Azul fans. Santos win at home.