W2W4: Struggling Monterrey visit Santos, Tigres vs. Tijuana
ESPN FC's Liga MX writers pick out what you need to watch for in another exciting weekend of action.
Can Monterrey stop the rot against high-flying Santos?
It's not quite time to panic, but Monterrey's season is threatening to spiral out of control. Rayados' recent problems in Liga MX play spilled over on Wednesday into the Copa MX, with the team crashing out at the round of 16 stage after a farcical penalty shoot-out loss against Queretaro.
Therefore, Sunday's trip to Torreon to play Liga MX leader Santos Laguna promises to be a key one for Rayados, one of the favorites for the title ahead of the 2018 Clausura. Antonio Mohamed's team was looking in good shape at the beginning of February, when it thrashed Leon 5-1, but since then there has been only one victory -- a 1-0 win over last-place Atlas, who played most the game with 10 players -- over five Liga MX matches.
It certainly won't be an easy game against a Santos Laguna side that boasts Djaniny (the Cape Verde striker has 12 goals in 10 games this Apertura) and is full of confidence. But maybe, just maybe, this is the kind of game against a regional rival that Monterrey needs to regain its focus and intensity.
If Rayados can't find a win they would likely drop out of the playoff spots, which would spark furious debate and suggest that there is a deeper and altogether more serious malaise gripping the club. -- Tom Marshall
Will Chivas take a risk vs. Lobos BUAP?
Usually, a clash at the bottom of the table this early in the season isn't deserving of more than a glance. However, Chivas is in the midst of a last-ditch effort to save its season while Lobos BUAP attempts to stave off relegation after its inaugural year in Liga MX.
It's a little unsettling that both coaches are receiving the amount of patience they're getting at this point, a big departure from the usual strategy in Mexico.
And questions surround Chivas for this one: after a 1-0 loss in the CONCACAF Champions League against MLS side Seattle Sounders, can they afford to rest players this weekend and risk another embarrassing loss in the league? Or will they take their chances and attempt to restore their confidence by throwing their usual starting XI at an opponent they ought to beat?
Lobos, on the other hand... it needs points to continue to put the pressure on Veracruz, a team looking to avoid the label of being the very last team to go down before Liga MX went ahead and suspended relegation altogether (though the initial premise calls for just two years). Thus, regardless of who Chivas decides to trot out, coach Rafael Puente will need to inspire his side to win at home against one of Mexico's most popular sides.
High drama in low (table) places, indeed. -- Eric Gomez
Tigres and Club Tijuana aiming to bounce back
With three consecutive victories in hand over Atlas, Morelia and Veracruz, Tigres will be charging into the weekend with confidence running high. After a questionable start to the season, the squad has come roaring back with a five-game unbeaten streak that has placed them back into playoff contention at fourth place.
Also, keeping in mind that Tigres stumbled to a 2-1 CONCACAF Champions League loss to Toronto FC on Wednesday, manager Ricardo "Tuca" Ferretti will be sure to reinvigorate his squad that is filled with some of the most talented names in Mexico.
The only problem is the fact that Tigres will be visited this Saturday by the Liga MX team with the best defense: Club Tijuana. Led by key figures like goalkeeper Gibran Lajud and central defender Pablo Aguilar, Xolos have only allowed a total of six goals in their 10 matches this season. Similar to Tigres, Club Tijuana will also be desperate to bounce back after suffering a shocking 2-0 CCL loss at home to the New York Red Bulls on Tuesday. Knowing full well that they are sitting just two spots below Tigres at sixth place, Xolos should be eager to gain a win that could push them ahead of the current title-holders. -- Cesar Hernandez