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The weekend of Mexican soccer returns from the FIFA Date with various premier matchups that could define the league’s playoff picture. There is a clear division in the matches with top teams meeting their counterparts and the lower teams facing off amongst each other.
Overall, the games should provide some of the more evenly matched games so far this season which could either result in electrifying matches or, unfortunately, tense battles with little scoring.
Here is the rundown of the weekend’s games with their predictions:
Friday at 8:30 p.m.: Chiapas vs. Puebla
The weekend action kicks off with No. 11 Chiapas facing No. 15 Puebla. Jaguares still has a lot to play for, and they’ve improved their play greatly in the last month of the season, as has Puebla under the leadership of Daniel Guzman.
Both teams are evenly matched, though Jaguares has more players, like Luis Rey, that can make the difference in a game. Expect a tight match with Jaguares having the initiative as they try and sneak into the eight spots qualifying to the Liguilla.
Prediction: Jaguares 2-1 Puebla
Friday at 10:30 p.m.: Tijuana vs. Cruz Azul
One of the premier matchups of the weekend between the top team in the league and one of the league’s biggest teams. Cruz Azul is slowly returning to the right path, reaching fourth place in the standings, while Tijuana continues to have one of the deepest teams in the tournament.
The match also puts together two of the best defenses in the league. Ultimately, Tijuana is on the better run and at the moment they look unbeatable in league play. Except a high action match with two offenses with great rhythm going into the match and more goals from Omar Bravo as he gets back into his former level.
Prediction: Tijuana 2-2 Cruz Azul
Saturday at 6:00 p.m. America vs. Leon
The most exciting matchup of the weekend due to the style of play of both teams and their quality in the tournament. Both teams are committed to the attack, with America using a more counterattack mode and Leon playing a possessive style of soccer.
America has lost a bit of its attack, with Christian Benitez having a scoring drought while Leon seems to be returning to the great play they showed at the start of the tournament. The “Aguilas” also suffer from their own home field advantage, having trouble getting victories at home in Azteca.
Prediction: Leon 2-0 America
Saturday at 6:00 p.m.: Queretaro vs. Morelia
Queretaro continues to be on borrowed time in the first division, as they sink deeper and deeper in the delegation percentages and look for a buzzer to signal the end of their adventure. For Morelia, they need to take advantage of their weak opponent to get closer to qualifying spots in the general table as they currently sit in tenth place (with a game less due to the FIFA date).
The two week break could mess with the “Monarcas” but it shouldn’t be enough to keep them from getting back to form against Queretaro.
Prediction: Morelia 2-1 Queretaro
Saturday at 8:00 p.m.: Tigres vs. Pumas
The feline classic of Mexican soccer pits two teams living their own crises. For Tigres, the lack of results has become worrisome as they’ve fallen to 12th place in the standings due to poor play and a run of injuries.
Pumas, meanwhile, has troubles in its locker room due to new coach Mario Carrillo refusing to start the star acquisitions of the team, Emanuel Villa and Martin Romagnoli. While Carillo continues to be criticized the results, for now, seem to back him up as he has Pumas in fifth place in the general standings.
Pumas are definitely in better form as the game approaches, though home field advantage should help Tigres as their fans try to spur them on.
Prediction: Tigres 1-1 Pumas
Saturday at 8:00 p.m.: Pachuca vs. Monterrey
The story of the star-crossed teams: both Monterrey and Pachuca have fallen heavily this season after high expectations at the start of the season. Monterrey has suffered more than any team due to injury problems but a rejuvenated Angel Reyna that shined with Mexico against El Salvador and Humberto Suazo returning to the field should aid in their troubles.
Pachuca can’t find its identity in the season and the criticisms that Hugo Sanchez would be out if he were named “Hugo Gonzalez” are justified. The team had some of the biggest signings in the offseason, yet can’t seem to compete with any of the big teams. Pachuca stuck in 14th place, and its coach, need a result need a win at home to stay alive.
Prediction: Monterrey 2-1 Pachuca
Saturday at 10:00 p.m.: Atlas vs. San Luis
The two teams are still looking get positive results in the season, though thanks to Queretaro they don’t really have to worry about the relegation zone. The game screams for a boring 0-0 draw with nothing really in play as the post season becomes a bit of a pipe dream.
Atlas comes with a two-week rest after they didn’t play during the FIFA date, something that could favor San Luis who is coming off a draw against Atlante.
Prediction: Atlas 0-0 San Luis
Sunday at 1:00 p.m.: Toluca vs. Santos
Another one of the top matchups in the league pits the number two team (Toluca) and the number six team (Santos) as a title favorite meets the title defender.
Santos was much more affected by players leaving to go to the international date and they face one of three teams (Toluca, Leon, Tijuana) that have looked miles above the rest. Toluca has only lost one game this season and they get their scoring stud Luis Tejada back.
With both teams having deep squads it should be a heavily contested match up with (hopefully for the fans) a lot of goals from both sides.
Predictions: Toluca 3-2 Santos
Sunday at 7:00 p.m.: Atlante vs. Guadalajara
Guadalajara enters the last stretch of the season with heavy possibilities of advancing to the post season if they can deliver against a week schedule. That schedule continues against an Atlante team that has been highly inconsistent throughout the season.
Guadalajara has begun to show a semblance of a style under their new Dutch directors, and should be aided with the return of their Mexican internationals. An injury to their striker, Rafael Marquez Lugo, however, underlies their scoring woes.
Atlante has the second worst defense in the league, which should be great for a Chivas team that has trouble finishing their opportunities.
Predictions: Guadalajara 2-1 Atlante