We're back already. Just a day after reviewing Jornada 13, it's time to preview the 10th round of Liga MX action. The matches were rescheduled after the tragic earthquake in Puebla killed hundreds in central Mexico.
It was the right call, no doubt, especially with venues like the Estadio Azteca set to be in use. Emergency workers were needed elsewhere and the stadiums needed to be inspected for structural damage. Many clubs are donating their gate revenue to groups helping those affected by the quakes, including America which already had committed to do so for victims of the Oaxaca/Chiapas quake that hit earlier.
It's another example of the soccer community coming together for the common good. The round should also produce some interesting matches. Let's take a look:
Match of the Midweek ... America vs. Chivas
This game may not actually be all that great, but come on! It's the Clasico Nacional! The "Clasico of Clasicos" language always seems overwrought, especially this time around with Club America rolling along in second place and Chivas preparing for an early winter break instead of the Liguilla.
Is there hope Chivas could play spoiler though? Sure. For one, this match is at the Estadio Azteca. Las Aguilas are 2-1-1 at home, while Chivas have only been able to win away from Guadalajara with a 1-2-2 record on the road. Matias Almeyda's squad is looking to win back a bit of respect from fans and will be hungry for a victory.
"A Clasico always is special, whether it be in the league, cup, Liguilla, with one team doing well and the other poorly, it's a different game. You're playing for more things besides the points. That's how we have to focus ourselves, thinking about winning and knowing it will be a good game against a good opponent and we have to rally," Chivas center back Oswaldo Alanis said Monday. "Clasicos are played to the death. We're giving it the importance it deserves, thinking about closing out the tournament well and getting as many points as possible. It's football, there are 90 minutes, the results depend on a lot of things. We know they're good, but we also have the ability to top them. We're going to give everything."
Alanis and the defense particularly will need to put in a solid shift. America has scored nine goals in its last five matches and looked fearsome Saturday in a win against Cruz Azul. It will be difficult to stop them from doing the same in front of what should be an excited crowd in the capital Wednesday night.
It's a big weekend for ... Toluca
The Red Devils have been flying under the radar, and were even more stealth than usual last week with their 3-1 win over Lobos BUAP played Wednesday, a full two days before anyone started paying attention to the league again after the international break. Toluca sits fourth with an impressive six wins and just two defeats so far this season. This week Hernan Cristante's men head to Pachuca, where Tuzos are struggling but are difficult to beat at home. They follow that up with a trip to face Tigres, in what looks like an even bigger test of Toluca's credentials.
"We're working a lot on the tactics," said defender Maximiliano Perg, perhaps not giving too much away considering Cristante's reputation. "In the matches, there are always mistakes, but Hernan knows what those errors were. We're working on it on the field, and we're focused on getting better."
This week will be critical to Toluca's season, and it must get off to a good start with a strong result Wednesday.
Keep an eye on ... Tigres' bench
Saturday marked the third straight match Tigres coach Ricardo "Tuca" Ferretti spurned the opportunity to make a single modification to his side during the match. Rather than bring on any sort of substitute, Ferretti let his starting XI play the full 90 minutes. It's not the first time this year he's done so, and he may have been looking toward the busy upcoming schedule and planning to make his changes between games rather than during the contest. Still, it's an unconventional tactic, especially after his side fell behind late against Leon.
"When you put out a starting XI you put it out there not to change anything. You can change it, but you don't have to. I didn't see the need. If there is a need, I'll make a change," Ferretti said after the loss to Leon.
Tigres will hope there again are no substitutes needed when they host 12th-place Veracruz on Tuesday. Veracruz sits toward the bottom of the table and should be easy enough for Tigres to overcome. While Ferretti dismissed the idea that his players being active during the international break had any affect on Saturday's defeat, the result snapped a long undefeated run for his team. They'll be eager to get home and get a victory to again generate positive momentum.
Quote of the midweek
"There are 15 intense days coming. We could clinch qualification (to the Liguilla) or fall out of the top eight. We want to qualify as soon as possible." - Jesus Isijara, Necaxa midfielder
It's hard to get a handle on Necaxa. The Rayos' defense seems to be top-class, but Isijara and the attack have failed to produce many goals. Only two teams have scored fewer goals than Necaxa, and they're sitting next-to last and last. Necaxa sits in the eighth and final playoff spot, and the team knows its fate rests in improving the attack. The first test is a Wednesday trip north to face Santos Laguna.