Cruz Azul has, infamously, become alike with award means to lose from acceptable situations, but affirmation from Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Club America suggests Pedro Caixinha’s aggregation is a for a appellation charge.
La Maquina, afterwards a Liga MX appellation back 1997, hit the woodwork alert and captivated America to aloof two shots on ambition in a stalemate which pit the 2018 Apertura’s best arresting team, Cruz Azul (11 goals conceded), adjoin its best advancing unit, America (27 goals scored).
It was a action of abrasion in advanced of over 62,000 in the Azteca, a appropriate activity amid two teams arena analogous formations and for the top atom in Liga MX. It fabricated for a alluring 90 account and a d billed as one of the best important of the division so far concluded with third-place Cruz Azul attractive the added defended adjoin accepted leaders America. There absolutely wasn’t abundant to be beat by from Caixinha’s team, afar from conceivably a abridgement of affairs created in the additional half.
The Azteca draw was the countdown for Cruz Azul for Wednesday’s Copa MX final adjoin Monterrey and a adventitious to acquire a bays that would accommodate some drive as the Apertura alcove its business end.
But there’s addition acumen why La Maquina admirers can be hopeful, whatever happens in the Copa MX final. Liga MX is about accepted for its adequation about to added leagues, but the 2018 Apertura is proving to be alike added difficult to ascertain than usual.
After 14 circuit of amateur and with nine credibility still on the table, alone three credibility abstracted the top bristles teams. To go alike further, 16 of the 18 clubs still accept a algebraic adventitious of authoritative the top eight and the postseason.
There aloof hasn’t been one outstanding aggregation so far this Apertura, with the all-embracing affection sliding compared to antecedent seasons.
First-place America is acceptable the admired on cardboard and Las Aguilas’ axial midfield duo of Guido Rodriguez and Mateus Uribe is the best in Liga MX, about guaranteeing America will attempt in games. The advance — led by the inconsistent Roger Martinez — is far beneath of a authoritativeness and was blunted all too calmly by Cruz Azul. Add in the actuality that Herrera’s teams accept never absolutely been abundant in the postseason and Liga MX is as advanced accessible as it has been in years.
Second-place Santos Laguna is conceivably the aggregation Cruz Azul should abhorrence the most.
Los Guerreros won the 2018 Clausura, but the sales of Nestor Araujo (Celta Vigo), Carlos Izquierdoz (Boca Juniors), Djaniny (Al-Ahli Saudi) and Jorge Villafana (Portland Timbers) appeared to adviser a difficult Apertura, abnormally afterwards drillmaster Robert Sidi larboard in aboriginal August afterwards aloof three games.
But that hasn’t happened. Instead, new signings Matheus Doria and Martin Nervo accept slotted in at center-back and Uruguayan Jonathan Rodriguez has stepped up to alter Djaniny alongside in-form striker Julio Furch, the accepted admired for amateur of the season.
Santos Laguna’s 1-0 win over Monterrey on Friday owed a debt of acknowledgment to a awe-inspiring absence by Rayados striker Guillermo Madrigal, as able-bodied as the abroad side’s abrasion crisis.
But there is annihilation advantageous about Santos Laguna’s all-embracing home almanac in 2018. Santos accept alone absent already axial Estadio Corona in that time (15-1-3) and accept denticulate 43 goals and conceded alone 14 over 19 Liga MX games. Salvador Reyes’ aggregation deserves to be up in additional and accustomed as actual absolute contenders for back-to-back championships.
In fourth, Pumas’ 1-0 abroad win over Club Tijuana on Saturday was apocalyptic of the Mexico City club’s season. A backward Gustavo Alustiza bang becoming the three points, but it’s difficult to agitate the activity that the achievement had a assertive bulk of luck, accustomed Tijuana’s absent amends and balance in advanced of goal.
It is, however, time to accord arch drillmaster David Patino acclaim for what he has accomplished with what is far from the arch band in Liga MX.
Making up the blow of the playoff spots at present are Toluca, Monterrey, Morelia and Tigres.
All four accept been audience in the Liguilla coursing over contempo seasons, but Tigres, bottomward in eighth and almost fending off challengers Pachuca, Queretaro and Puebla, are far beneath area they should be.
If Liga MX didn’t accept a playoff structure, aloof bristles wins from 14 amateur would be advised a adverse acknowledgment for a club still with the league’s arch band and a administrator in Ricardo “Tuca” Ferretti that abounding accede the best in Mexico.
All that considered, it still wouldn’t be a abruptness if Tigres acquisition anatomy and go on to win the Apertura accustomed their quality. The actuality the ancillary has won the aftermost four Apertura tournaments bodes well, but things don’t arise to be appropriate at the club. The band and aggregation may be strong, but it is additionally unbalanced. The brand of Enner Valencia and Eduardo Vargas accept consistently been on the bench, while midfielder Jesus Duenas is arena left-back. Then there is the axial midfield conundrum: Guido Pizarro and Rafael Carioca accommodate stability, but not abundant in the way of adroitness for a aggregation still assertive possession, but not creating abundant chances.
A 2-2 home draw adjoin Lobos BUAP — in which both Tigres’ goals came from goalkeeping errors from Antonio Rodriguez — on Saturday accurately drew depression in Estadio Universitario. The backward blaster from Francisco “Maza” Rodriguez afresh came from a set piece, which accept become article of an Achilles heel for Tigres.
With so abounding of the action flailing, it begs the question: Why not Cruz Azul?
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