With only 5 rounds to go in the Guard1anes 2021 season, there have been a few surprises to this point, as there are every single Liga MX season. Whether you see it as a consecuence of the mediocrity in Mexican Football (glass half-empty) or as part of having an extremely competitive and even league (glass half-full), they never fail to make themselves seen. But they aren’t the only ones that draw attention; some clubs do come through with their expected performances and make news as well. Here are the main headlines we’ve seen thus far through 12 rounds of football:
- Cruz Azul’s 10-game winning streak. This has to be on everyone’s list. Not because we didn’t expect it; we know that Cruz Azul are capable of having these sorts of unbeaten streaks, as we saw it from them a year ago from the Clausura 2020 to part of the Guard1anes 2020 under Siboldi. But considering everything they went through in December, followed by the fallout to start the season with two consecutive losses, to then turn it completely around again and put together 10 straight wins is just admirable. They don’t have a super-team like a Rayados or Tigres, but they are competitive enough to where they can go out on any given night and end up on the right side of the final score. And they’ve proven it to this point, running through some of the tougher teams in the league and tying their franchise record in consecutive wins. They’ll have a chance to set a new club record next Friday when they visit the border to face league-worst FC Juárez.
- Atlas climbing out of the hole. Despite their good season, they still sit dead last in the “relegation” battle. That’s how bad they’d been over the previous seasons. With that being said, the fact they managed to recover from a 3-game losing streak to start the season, going unbeaten for 8 straight matches (5W, 3D), with a little help with América’s Viñas mishap of course, was quite impressive. That run finally ended last weekend with their 3-2 loss to who other than La Máquina. Nevertheless, they sit 6th overall in the league table and have made Atlético San Luis feel the heat in the race to avoid paying that ugly $120M peso penalty. Whether they’ll actually achieve it remains to be seen, but the fact they’ve managed to climb so far back under Cocca is beyond impressive.
- Alexis Canelo leading Toluca back to relevancy. We of course can’t ignore the influence Rubens Sambueza has had on this offense, as we know he is its main motor. But there’s also no denying this team’s powerful offense wouldn’t be the same without Argentine striker Canelo. After three seasons of being irrelevant and floating around in medicrity, this club is back to the top spots in the league, sitting 5th in the league table and owning the league’s best offense with 20 netbusters. Not to mention, Canelo accounting for nearly half of those with 9. Not only are Toluca back in serious playoff conversations, but after short stints with Chiapas and Puebla, Canelo is completing his fourth year with the Diablos Rojos, and is having his best season by far at the age of 29. The most times he had scored in any other season was 6.
- Tigres being out of the playoffs. Let’s remember, the playoff rule was changed before the start of last season, nearly a year ago. The 8 best teams used to be the chosen ones to compete for a title, but Liga MX officials felt extremely “generous” and decided to extend that list to 12 teams. That’s right, 12 out of 18 teams make the playoffs. Tigres have only 12 points, good enough for 14th overall, meaning if the season ended today, they wouldn’t even play a wild-card round matchup. I personally don’t believe that will stand, as they should figure out a way to turn it on and get enough points to at least finish in the top 12, but the fact they’re out of it this late into the season after what they accomplished in the Club WC a month ago, along with the star-studded roster they own is simply unacceptable and a true eye-opener.