The 2013 Clausura tournament in Liga MX is only four weeks in, but two teams continue to dominate the rest of the league. Club Tijuana, the reigning champions, and Tigres both got victories over the weekend and are not 4-0 on the year.
On Saturday, Tijuana hosted Pachuca at Estadio Caliente and walked away with a clean sheet and a 2-0 victory. Forward Alfredo "Chango" Moreno put the Xolos up in the 58' after converting a penalty kick, while late sub Raul Arambula added the insurance goal. Estadio Caliente is becoming a fortress for the home side; the Xolos haven't been defeated in league play there since January 29th, 2012. SB Nation featured writer Jorge Arangure Jr. had a great feature about the reigning Liga MX champions that I think is worth a read, so we've linked it in this post and featured it on our home page.
Tigres kept pace with Tijuana with a 2-0 victory over Queretaro, who are fighting to stay in the first division. Emannual Villa added to his Liga MX lead in goals scored, getting his fifth on the year. So far, Pumas letting go of Villa after a season that saw him in and out of the lineup through three coaches seems to be a mistake. Midfielder Danilinho added a second goal in the final moments of the game to keep Tigres at the top of Mexican soccer.
Chivas de Guadalajara continue to struggle and managed a 1-1 draw with Morelia on Friday. They now sit towards the bottom of the Liga MX after getting three draws in four matches. Through their first four games, the Goats have only scored three goals - two by Rafael Marquez Lugo and one from their newest striker Miguel Sabah. With Lugo and Sabah, Chivas' expectations were a bit higher, but they have started flat. Firing their head coach two days prior to the start of the year and bringing back Benjamin Galindo hasn't been able to change the path the club has been on in recent years.
Meanwhile, Galindo's former club Santos could be headed for a rebound after a rough Apertura tournament. Friday evening they defeated Leon 2-0 behind goals from Rodolfo Salinas and Oribe Peralta. Leon had more possession of the ball, but weren't able to get any shots on goal for the match. After an incredible run in the Apertura that earned them a birth in the Copa Libertadores, Leon appear to have fallen back to earth. They now sit near the bottom of the table with three losses in four matches. It won't get any easier for them as Cruz Azul comes to Nou Camp next weekend.
In probably the most shocking scoreline of the weekend, Atlas beat Club America 2-1 behind a 74' penalty goal by Omar Bravo. America dominated most of the match, going ahead in the 43' by a goal from Diego Reyes. Two minutes after the start of the second half, Atlas' Rodrigo Millar tied up the match. Although America had nearly 60% of possession and outshot Atlas 18-9, the late penalty put the underdogs on top for good. Atlas, who is fighting Queretaro in the relegation battle, now has seven points on the year. Queretaro has five.
Elsewhere, Cruz Azul domintated Puebla and spread around the scoring duties with a 4-0 win. Chaco Jimenez, Mariano Pavone, Teofilo Gutierrez, and Javier Aquino each found the net for La Maquina Azul. They now sit in fourth place and have yet to see defeat.
On Sunday, Pumas were in need of a result after going winless for their first three weeks, but knew winning in Toluca would be a tough mountain to climb. In the most recent Apertura, Toluca played eigth matches and were victories in six of them, losing zero. Pumas started the match aggressively, but poor passing and finishing prevented them from going ahead until minutes before halftime. In the 44', midfielder Javier Cortes made a determined run in on goal after bringing the ball down in the box and dribbling through a couple defenders to send the shot past Alfredo Talavera for a 1-0 lead. The second half was a bit more defensive or the Pumas, evidenced by Toluca controlling position for nearly 60% of the match. The defense stood tall, with Toluca finishing with five shots, but zero on goal. With the win, Pumas finds themselves some air and a vision towards bigger things. Next weekend they'll host Santos Laguna.
Week 5: What to Watch
With both Club Tijuana and Tigres siting on 4-0 records, naturally this should be the game of the week as the Xolos will travel to Estadio Universitario on Saturday night. Beating Tigres at home isn't all that easy and Tijuana is a stronger home team, so this one could play out to a draw. Either way, I'd expect some scoring and some great futbol regardless of the end result.
These two games aren't necessarily something you'd call a "must watch," but the relegation battle in Liga MX surely is something to keep an eye on. On Friday, Atlas will travel to Chiapas while Queretaro will travel to Estadio Azteca to face Club America on Saturday. Both clubs are desperate for points and each week's results matter.
On Sunday, keep an eye on the Santos and Pumas match in Mexico City. Both clubs are trying to rebound from a subpar Apertura and don't want to repeat that poor performance. A loss for either of these clubs, especially Pumas who are bit more uneasy at the moment, could be a sign of things to come.