Liga MX W2W4: Can Alan Pulido's return solve Chivas' scoring woes?
After several days where Liga MX clubs left the training grounds to help out those affected by the Sept. 19th earthquake, Mexican football is back, and there are several games that have the potential to be some of the most intense of this 2017 Apertura.
Alan Pulido is ready to provide the goals for Chivas
There's a certain element that can't go unnoticed in Liga MX, and it's that a record like Chivas' that includes one win, six draws and two losses still give them a good shot of reaching the Liguilla. The key moving forward for Matias Almeyda is to find ways for the club to achieve some type of positive run, and that could start tonight against Lobos BUAP at Estadio Chivas.
Alan Pulido, who has missed the start of the season due to an arm injury he suffered prior to the Gold Cup, is set to appear on the gameday roster. The return of Pulido can be seen as a moment that could change Chivas' luck. So far, El Rebano Sagrado has have only scored nine goals and in order to compete against the best, it will need to increase its scoring numbers. Pulido's return could significantly improve those numbers because the player knows that he needs to impress Mexico manager, Juan Carlos Osorio, in order to win a ticket to next year's World Cup.
After picking up a tough 1-0 win over Veracruz, Lobos BUAP will arrive to Guadalajara with high hopes of snatching points from Estadio Chivas. However, the situation at the camp is quite difficult at the moment because on Sept. 18th, the club announced that Julian Quinones has been separated from the club indefinitely. Quinones has scored six goals this season and has been one of the most dangerous attackers in the league; unfortunately, his off the field issues prevent him from improving his numbers.
What will "Tuca" do against Tijuana's scary attack?
Last season Xolos and Tigres met three times, two of those clashes took place in the Liguilla semifinals. At the time, Miguel "Piojo" Herrera was Xolos' manager, and it must be pointed out that in the Liguilla, Herrera had to make a lot of changes to his defensive backline due to the number of injuries the team encountered. Tigres went on to beat Xolos in all matches; the scorelines read 3-0, 2-0, and 2-0. Tijuana was unable to get a goal, but times are different.
Ricardo "Tuca" Ferretti is aware of Xolos' remarkable and dynamic attack led by Gustavo Bou, who has five goals. Heading into this match that will take place at Estadio Caliente, Tijuana's attack is on the rise, while Tigres' defense raises a lot of doubts and questions. The departure of Guido Pizarro is becoming a difficult task to resolve, as Tigres have already conceded 11 goals. Although Pizarro is a defensive midfielder, his ability to track down and slot in in the middle of defense is something that Ferretti's Tigres are missing. Xolos are currently on a six-game unbeaten streak, and against Tigres, their main intention is to extend it.
America visits an inspired Leon
When America goes to Leon and plays against La Fiera, there's a huge party in the city. It's a game that generates a lot of expectations in Leon and nearby towns. On the field, there are usually fireworks when these two play at "Estadio Nou Camp".
The arrival of Gustavo "Chavo" Diaz has generated needed optimism in Leon, and the recent results prove it. Since he took over, Leon has two wins, but against America it could be a different story. America heads to Leon with a positive away record, which includes three wins, one draw and one loss.
The unexpected long break has allowed Edson Alvarez to fully recover from a minor knee injury he suffered against Xolos and he will be available for inclusion for America. The task on hand for Las Aguilas will be to find ways to prevent Mauro Boselli from getting clear scoring opportunities, and they also have to pay attention to Luis "Chapito" Montes, who under Diaz, now has a more liberated role on the field. Since Diaz took over, Montes is getting more touches on the ball and he's shown a tendency to appear a lot of times inside the box.
Can Cruz Azul get an important win over a confused Pachuca?
The game between Pachuca and Cruz Azul should have taken place at Mexico City's Estadio Azul, but due to the current difficult state that the city is in, the game will take place at Estadio Hidalgo. Pachuca will be the home team, but it no longer feels invincible at home, especially after suffering losses against Chivas and America.
Pachuca's situation is alarming because although the team made a significant investment in bringing top caliber players to the club, the new players are still working on understanding Diego Alonso's philosophy. In its recent losses against Chivas and Leon, the team lacked intensity, which is one of the main elements in Pachuca's style. If the team lacks intensity, it's impossible to put into practice Alonso's style.
Meanwhile, Cruz Azul is enjoying its football, but it must improve on its finishing. If the team's good movement of the ball combines with good finishing from its strikers, Cruz Azul all of sudden will look like an intimidating side. It's all a process, and manager Paco Jemez knows that getting a win at Estadio Hidalgo against a confused Pachuca side will boost his team's confidence.
Nayib Moran covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @nayibmoran.