Two of the league's remaining undefeated teams meet and a few teams look to avoid a crisis start to the season in the fourth week of Mexican action.
|Friday, August 8|
|Saturday, August 9|
|6:00||Cruz Azul||-||Puebla||Univision Deportes|
|Sunday, August 10|
All times p.m. ET
Morelia - Tijuana
One Mexican media outlet summed it up with the headline, "Win or go into crisis." Three weeks into the season neither host Monarcas or visiting Xolos have been able to find victory. Each team has a draw and two losses, with Tijuana's point coming last week against Tigres. Morelia was demolished by a Leon team that had yet to win and couldn't score against a defense which had looked poor even before it lost Rafa Marquez to Serie A.
Veracruz - Monterrey
Los Tiburones Rojos have been able to run off a pair of draws but still won't be favored against undefeated Monterrey. Los Rayados have yet to allow a goal, while Veracruz has allowed just one through three matches, so this should be a fun affair for fans of defensive football. Obviously the hosts will have to score for the first time this year and will have to continue its strong showing at the back without Leobardo Lopez, who was sent off against Cruz Azul. Candido Ramierz is among the names on the visitors' injury list.
Cruz Azul - Puebla
Cruz Azul doesn't seem to be able to find the right formula. La Maquina folded in their CONCACAF Champions League draw midweek and couldn't get one past Veracruz in round three. Puebla started strong, beating Tijuana, but was brought crashing down to earth with a 4-0 loss to Club America. America has set the standard so far and is in the upper echelon Cruz Azul is looking to reach. If the club can't get a home win against Puebla, last year's regular season champions will be unlikely to reach the same heights.
Tigres - America
Resurgent Tigres takes on America in what looks to be the match of the weekend. As the only team to achieve maximum points in the first three weeks and carrying a plus six goal differential, America looks like the clear favorite to lift the title - especially if last week's hat trick hero Raul Jimenez stays with the club.
But it's very early, and Tigres will likely prove a stiffer challenge this week than Puebla or Tijuana did. Hernan Burbano and Juninho have both found success in attack for the Monterrey-based side, which will take heart from the fact that America has lost in its previous four trips to "el Volcan". Hugo Ayala remains sidelined for the hosts while Antonio Mohamed's men are still without Rubens Sambueza. Las Aguilas will also be without Paolo Gotz, who was sent off in the last minute of the 4-0 win against Puebla.
Santos - Queretaro
Santos remains among the undefeated, quietly assembling five points in the first three weeks. Los Gallos Blancos have fans crowing about consecutive victories, and there's no obvious reason either streak can't continue. Camilo has scored in consecutive matches for Queretaro, while Santos' defense is holding firm but the club is still looking for someone to replace the output of goals Oribe Peralta produced.
Pachuca - Chivas
Chivas didn't play a league match last week, getting the scheduled contest postponed in order to play a pair of friendlies in the United States. Pachuca dropped its second consecutive result and was again kept off the scoresheet. Enner Valencia is gone, and someone must score goals for the team if it's going to find a Liguilla spot. Chivas is in something of the same situation with Fernando Arce the only goalscorer thus far. Rafael Marquez Lugo won't return this tournament, reports indicated Friday, so Aldo de Nigris, Omar Bravo or Jesus Sanchez must break through. Carlos Fierro may get handed a start in the No. 10 role with Angel Reyna suspended after being sent off in the previous league match, a 1-0 win against Pumas.
Chiapas - Leon
After winning consecutive tournaments, the hangover hit Leon in the first two weeks of the Apertura, but 4-0 thrashing of Monarcas might be the greasy-food and water the team needed to feel itself again. Rafa Marquez has left the fold, moving to Hellas Verona, but there's still plenty of talent in the ranks.
That's especially true if Carlos Pena can get back to the form which made him a hot name for a European transfer during the last Apertura. But Chiapas has been one of the league's surprise packages, even if a 4-2 defeat to Atlas in its previous match has taken the luster off the good start. Both these squads will be eager to prove that they can actually hang this season in what should be a level affair.
Pumas - Atlas
It was all going so well for Pumas. After a surprisingly strong Clausura, the club dominated its week one matchup. But things haven't been as solid since the 3-1 win against Queretaro with defeats to Chivas and Toluca once again leading to fans calling for Jose Luis Trejo's job. On the other hand, undefeated Atlas has been one of the most surprising teams with Tomas Boy leading the club in the right direction. Pumas could use the home crowd's support to pin defeat on los Zorros.
Leones Negros - Toluca
UDG didn't play last week, agreeing to delay its match so Chivas could play friendlies in the United States. Toluca bounced back from a difficult start, beating Pumas 2-1. Paraguayan striker Pablo Velaquez scored a penalty and one from the run of play, and if he can find scoring form it would be a big help for the Red Devils - and bad news for the hosts, still looking for their first point since returning to the top division. Edgar Benitez was sent off for two first-half bookings against Pumas and will miss this contest.