All eyes this weekend in the Liga MX are on the Estadio Universitario for the 100th edition of the Tigres-Monterrey derby that has fast become the most intense and organic in all of Mexico.
Going into the landmark game the statistics couldn’t really be more level. Tigres have won 34 games, Monterrey 35, with 29 matches drawn and one suspended due to a mass brawl.
The teams have also started the new Apertura season in parallel fashion, with Tigres in 13th position and Monterrey in 14th and both on three points.
However, while the numbers may be even, in many ways it is a shame that Clasico number 100 is so early in the season. Whatever the result, both teams are expected to make the playoffs and boast two of the best squads in the country.
Not that it matters too much to fans in the northern city with a thriving soccer culture.
Tigres go into the game with a run of six home clasicos without a victory and has only one win in their last 12 games against Los Rayados.
Perhaps with that in mind, Tigres captain Lucas Lobos described the clasicos – in which there have been only eight goals as many games – as “boring.”
The reality is that both teams – evenly matched in recent years - fear losing and taking that extra risk, although Monterrey goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco disagreed wholeheartedly with Lobos’ statement.
“A clasico has never bored me, I enjoy it a lot, live it with a lot of passion, with the same passion that fans live it,” said the Monterrey native.
Tigres coach Ricardo Ferretti isn’t promising anything spectacular, however, instead implying that Monterrey’s style under Victor Manuel Vucetich makes that difficult.
“Monterrey is a team that has played excellently on the counter-attack for years,” sentenced Ferretti. “Their players are very apt for it, they are quick, explosive and talented.”
A tactical battle may not enthrall every neutral, but the pride at stake in the 100th Clasico Regio should make it gripping viewing.
Elsewhere in the Liga MX, Friday’s game against Club Tijuana could be Antonio Torres Servin’s last chance to save his job at Pumas.
The Mexico City club is without a win all season and has only scored one goal in its last five games in all competitions. Added to that, Pumas have never managed to defeat Xolos.
At the top of the league, Veracruz has a very winnable game against Puebla on Sunday, while second faces third when Morelia travels to face Leon in a game involving two of the most exciting teams in the league.
Finally, Chivas play Cruz Azul in Mexico City on Saturday in the first match this season between two of the “big four.”
Chivas need to find some form after a shaky start to the Apertura, while Cruz Azul is still looking to put the nightmare of last season’s final behind it and start moving up the league.