Tom Marshall: Liga MX Clausura storylines

The Apertura ended less than a month ago, but action south of the border kicks off again with some intriguing narratives in the offing.
Just 19 days after Rafa Marquez hoisted the Liga MX trophy for Leon in front of a largely disgruntled Estadio Azteca, Mexico’s first division starts again with the Clausura 2014 championship.

With the World Cup coming up in June, the Copa Libertadores and CONCACAF Champions League, the Liga MX will well be worth watching this season and there are plenty of storylines to follow.
Here are a few:
Club America is once again one of the favorites for the title, with incoming manager Antonio Mohamed promising not to meddle too much with the style of his predecessor Miguel Herrera.
The lack of distractions from other competitions – America fell out of the CONCACAF Champions League at the group stage last year – coupled with a squad highly motivated by the prospect of making the Mexico party for the World Cup in June means there are plenty of reasons to believe Las Aguilas could make a third consecutive final, especially if new striker Andres Rios starts to fire.
Mexico’s World Cup group rivals Brazil, Croatia and Cameroon will be especially interested in how America does this season.

Young, foreign coaches
Fiery Venezuelan coach Cesar Farias certainly made his mark on the national team of his homeland and comes into the Liga MX with Club Tijuana as one of a growing number of young, talented foreign coaches from outside of Mexico in the league.
Farias, along with Pedro Caixinha at Santos Laguna, Mohamed  and Leon’s Gustavo Matosas, has his sights set on eventually moving to Europe, is labeled the “Venezuelan Mourinho” for his polemic statements and will be fascinating to follow in 2014.
Keep your eyes on Monarcas next season, especially if they can hang on to winger Jefferson Montero for the next six months. It should be a fun ride.
The Michoacan club boasts a lethal offense, with Aldo Leao, Montero, Duvier Riascos and Hector Mancilla that has the capacity to rip teams apart.
Uruguayan international Egidio Arevalo will add steel in the center of the field, while central defenders Hector Reynoso, Felipe Baloy and Joel Huiqui are big, strong players who are good in the air but susceptible to the odd mistake on the ground.
It should all come together to make Morelia not-to-miss team this Clausura.
At the end of the Clausura regular season, one team will be heading down to the Ascenso MX and it looks like being Atlante.

The Cancun-based team is eight points adrift of the Liga MX relegation table – worked out by the points to games played ratio over the last six seasons – with Atlas second from last, Puebla and Chiapas FC both 12 points above and Chivas 16 points clear.
Veracruz ended last season terribly and with the volatility in its ratio – due to it recently having been promoted – a very poor season could easy see it drop into the relegation fight.
Atlante will be looking for Ecuadorian duo Narciso Mina and Michael Arroyo to reignite a partnership that was prolific in Ecuador and fire in the goals to put pressure on Atlas and Veracruz early on in the season.
The soap opera of change in Guadalajara continued over the offseason, with Jose Luis Real coming in as coach and Dennis te Kloese leaving his role of sporting president.

The reality at the club – Mexico’s most successful along with America – is that it is likely to be in a relegation battle in 12 months time unless it has a significantly improved 2014.
Omar Bravo, Israel Castro, Gerardo Rodriguez and Jair Pereira were brought in over the break and their experience will be crucial in lifting a flagship team that the Liga MX really needs to be fighting at the other end of the table.