The whole soccer world this Saturday will have its eyes set on the Santiago Bernabeu for Real Madrid versus Barcelona.
The obvious equivalent in Mexico is the Clasico Nacional pitting Chivas against Club America, but those matches haven’t lived up to the billing in recent years.
Instead, it’s the Clasico Regio between Tigres and Monterrey that really lays claim to being the best rivalry in the Liga MX and – for those still in the mood after Spain’s clasico – it is well worth tuning in for on Saturday.
It’s not the most watched or the one that grabs headlines, but the northern city of Monterrey comes to a stop.
Tigres play away in the Estadio Tecnologico and go into the match as favorites as the Liga MX’s form team, having not suffered defeat in its last six matches.
Tigres will be missing Mexico international Jorge Torres Nilo and possibly his replacement Jesus Duenas as well, but should dominate possession in front of a packed and passionate crowd.
Watch out, too, for goalkeeper Nahuel Guzman, who is in with a shot of becoming Argentina’s number one in coming years, especially if he keeps up the type of form he’s shown with Tigres since moving from Newell’s Old Boys last summer.
Monterrey’s game is more based on counter-attack and is reliant on the partnership between the league’s top-scorer Dorlan Pabon and Humberto Suazo in the final third. It is lethal on its day and Pabon is due a goal.
The game isn’t just about the city of Monterrey, however, it also brings together two of the best squads in the Liga MX, both of which are genuine contenders for the title.
Queretaro vs. America
When Ronaldinho put pen to paper and signed for Queretaro, the initial reaction was one of shock, both inside and out of Mexico.
Why the Liga MX would be ‘Dinho’s choice? That could be rationalized. The real question for those that follow the Mexican game was why Queretaro?
It seemed one of Mexico’s more glamorous, big city clubs would’ve been better suited to harbor Ronaldinho’s presence and celebrity, not Queretaro – a quaint colonial city a couple of hours outside Mexico City. America seemed like the proper place for a Ronaldinho-type figure, where he could show off his skills in the mammoth Estadio Azteca for a team that has always had a swagger about it.
On Friday, Ronaldinho’s side hosts Club America in the Estadio Corregidora, a stadium that was designed as a smaller, mini version of the Azteca.
Gallos Blancos are desperate for a win, having lost their last three games 2-1, while America is top of the league, the favorite for the title and will be fielding its strongest possible team.
Already three points off the playoffs, Queretaro must win on Friday, with only four regular season games left. Anything else and Ronaldinho & Co. will be getting an extended Christmas vacation.
Atlas to take Puebla to the dance
Toluca, Atlas, Tigres and Monterrey are the teams in the hunt for next season’s Copa Libertadores spots, which go to the two highest eligible regular season finishers this Apertura.
Atlas went out of the Copa MX to Puebla in the Estadio Jalisco on Wednesday, but Saturday’s game in the same venue is a very winnable opportunity against the same opposition, this time in the league.
Tomas Boy was fined in the week for a physical confrontation with an Atlas fan after last Saturday’s loss to Toluca and there is a feeling Los Rojinegros need to get back on track.
Boy certainly seems confident that this side has the quality to get the job done.
“I like ballet, I like the refined, the skillful and few can dance ballet,” said Boy this week. “Not many can dance ballet and Atlas plays like ballet.”
Jose Luis “Chelis” Sanchez Sola’s Puebla will likely bring some rough and tumble to the dance.
Leon’s upturn in form credible?
You have to hand it to Gustavo Matosas and his Leon players. The team is perhaps the most exciting in the league, likes to have the ball, play out the back and take the game to the opposition.
It doesn’t always work, but La Fiera has won consecutive games and is now in the playoff race after a poor start to the season.
Sunday’s match against the impressive Toluca is a true test of just how much Leon has improved in recent weeks.
Can Chivas do anything but lose?
Chivas have been fascinating to watch this season, but more to see just how low the team can sink. It’s been horrible for fans.
Jose Manuel “Chepo” de la Torre’s comeback has done nothing to lift spirits, with Chivas losing 5-0 in the Copa MX midweek to Santos Laguna.
Club Tijuana is in decent form at present and is undefeated in the Liga MX in the Estadio Omnilife. With confidence low at Chivas, you just can’t see them getting a win.