Big clubs square off and a few top squads are on upset alert in the seventh round of the Liga MX Apertura.
|Friday, August 29|
|Saturday, August 30|
|Sunday, August 31|
All times p.m. ET
Queretaro - Monterrey
The Gallos Blancos have cooled after a hot start, and a visit from Monterrey won't be a welcome sight for manager Ignacio Ambriz. The Rayados are in inspired form, sitting in second thanks in no small part to Colombian striker Dorlan Pabon's league-leading seven goals. One of those was the lone strike in last week's triumph over Puebla.
Queretaro lost to Cruz Azul 2-1 last week, though Camilo Sanvezzo stayed on Pabon's heels with his fourth goal of the campaign. The host will need a strong defense to keep Monterrey from a thrid straight win but will be without defender Yasser Corona who got his marching orders late in last week's defeat.
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Tijuana - Leones Negros
Tijuana is undefeated in its last four, but three of those matches have been draws. That includes Sunday's 1-1 stalemate against Pumas, but Cesar Farias will be pleased with his men grabbing a point away from home. Estadio Caliente typically provides a strong home-field advantage for the Xolos, and they'll be expecting a win with stragglers Leones Negros in town.
However, former Tijuana man Fidel Martinez's 70th minute strike gave UDG its first win of the season against Leon and the newly promoted side will hope to build upon that momentum. Leandro Cufre misses out because of a red card suspension for the visitor.
America - Pumas
The capital clubs are historically among the league's best, but that form has only held for one of these outfits this tournament. America goes into the clash at the Azteca in the top spot, last week's draw against Chiapas being the first time in the Apertura the Antonio Mohamed's men haven't achieved maximum points. But with Raul Jimenez off to Atletico and Oribe Peralta reportedly the victim of an extortion plot, las Aguilas need the goals to come from somewhere.
Meanwhile, Pumas have managed just four points from six matches with Guillermo Vazquez returning to the manager's box in search of a reversal. The point agianst Tijuana was progress, but America will provide stiffer competiton.
Puebla - Morelia
The eccentric Jose Luis Sanchez, better known as "El Chelis" is now on the sidelines for Puebla, with the club mired in a relegation fight. Puebla started with a win and also managed a win after. Since then, it's been mostly downhill, and the club had to make a change.
The only club it's going better than, really, is visitors Morelia, which has just two points through six matches. Last week's 5-1 shellacking at the hands of Tigres won't inspire much confidence that Monarcas will be able to get that first win any time soon.
Tigres - Chiapas
Both of these clubs are coming off excellent league results last time out. Tigres beat the worst team in the league, yes, but they did it by a 5-1 scoreline with four different players tallying and Monarcas putting in an own goal. Meanwhile, Chiapas kept previously unbeaten and untied Club America off the scoresheet for a draw that keeps the Jaguares just outside the playoff positions.
Their defense will against be tested with that five-goal outing helping Tigres claim a spot as the second-highest scoring team in the league, and Chiapas' defense hadn't really answered the call emphatically until last week. That plus the return of some of the Monterrey magic that had been missing in recent years might spur the home side to the win.
Leon - Pachuca
Both of these teams have underachieved this tournament, with Leon still outside the playoff places and Pachuca sitting in seventh after playing excellent football but failing to make much of it. It's the two-time defending champion that seems in real trouble, though, with Saturday's visitor riding a Matias Alustiza hat trick to a 3-1 win against red-hot Atlas last time out.
Leon, however, is without Rafa Marquez and has conceded more goals in the Apertura than any team aside from last-place Monarcas. Pachuca native Edwin Hernandez will be of no help to Leon's back line after an early red card in the 1-0 loss to previous pointless Leones Negros. It just keeps getting worse for Leon, which needs a boost. Perhaps it comes this week in a battle of clubs owned by Grupo Pachuca.
Atlas - Santos
It had to come at some point. Tomas Boy's Atlas outfit lost for the first time that week, allowing Matias Alustiza a hat trick in a 3-1 loss to Pachuca. Dropping road points won't be too much of an issue for the upstarts, but consecutive defeats might raise concern that the hot start was all a facade.
Atlas will have to fend off a Santos team sitting right below it in the table. Oribe Peralta's departure has been dealt with well by the club thanks largely to a team effort, though Colombian Andres Renteria has scored three times thus far. He opened the scoring in the opening minute of a 3-0 defeat of Toluca last time out with talented attackers Javier Orozco and Carlos Quintero off the scoresheet. The Atlas defense will have to cope with those threats to get back in the win column.
Toluca - Veracruz
Red Devils take on Red Sharks in this Sunday afternoon clash. Veracruz has been a bit puzzling, since it's on an five-match undefeated run but has only managed five total points. Meanwhile, Toluca has lacked for consistency. At times, they look like the club that has been a solid contender in various tournaments the past several years. Others, they look like those days are long gone and they won't qualify for the Liguilla.
A lot of that form depends on Paraguayan striker Pablo Velazquez, who has four goals this season but also has disappeared for large stretches during the tournament. A draw with Chivas might have Veracruz looking to get a point - or more - against another favored opponent.
Chivas - Cruz Azul
This is the battle of teams that have gone in totally different directions of late, Chivas falling from the greats and Cruz Azul performing well (but with only a CONCACAF Champions League trophy to show for it). The visitor responded well to its embarassing defeat in the continential championship, beating Queretaro 2-1.
The host, meanwhile, continues its difficulties, sitting in the 14th position - though it has played one fewer matches than the majority of clubs in the league. No attacker has showed he'll score goals for the Goats, but Sunday night would certainly be the time for a breakthrough.