Clausura 2017 Week 1 Preview: Saturday’s Games

liga mxCruz Azul vs Necaxa – 6:00 PM – Univision Deportes
Cruz Azul finished a disappointing 14th in the Apertura 2016 season and will now look for more success under new coach Paco Jémez. La Máquina struggled at home last season, with just three wins from nine matches, which resulted in plummeting attendance figures in the Estadio Azul. The first step for Cruz Azul’s recovery is improving their home form and showing fans that this will not be another lackluster season.

As for Necaxa, the Rayos finished 7th in the Apertura, a very impressive result for the newly-promoted team. Necaxa had such a good season that they are nowhere near the relegation fight, despite Liga MX’s relegation system being biased towards new teams. The Rayos will not want to get over-confident, however, and their road results were rather mixed last season.

Monarcas Morelia vs Tijuana – 8:00 PM – Azteca America
Monarcas Morelia finished 13th in the Apertura, but they are 18th in the relegation standings. Morelia needs to start the season strong to stave off relegation, and they’ll be looking to new coach Pablo Marini for guidance. Morelia struggled at home in the second half of the season, with just one win in their final six home games. If they can’t win at home this season, they’re unlikely to survive the drop. The michoacanos also desperately need to improve their defense, after they allowed 34 goals in the Apertura – the second-most in the league.

As for Tijuana, the Xolos were the superlíderes in the Apertura, but their first-place finish didn’t help them in the playoffs, where they were upset in the first round. Tijuana will look to recover their form in the Clausura, although they will be without coach Miguel Herrera for this game due to suspension. The Xolos largely overcame their historically-poor away form last season as they enjoyed a five-game road unbeaten streak, but they slumped at the end with two losses in their final three. They’ll look to get back on track against a desperate Morelia here.

Tigres UANL vs Santos Laguna – 8:00 PM – Univision Deportes
Tigres UANL are the reigning champions of Liga MX and they’ll be eager to defend their title here. The universitarios were tied for the league’s best defense last season, with just 13 goals against, and they will once again look to build from the back this season. Tigres will be running on short rest after the late date of the Liga MX final cut way into their offseason and preseason preparations. Unlike the other finalist, América, they were not able to reschedule their opening game.

As for Santos Laguna, the Laguneros finished the Apertura on the other end of the table in 16th. Santos’ disappointing season also saw them slip into 13th in the Tabla de Cociente; although they still have a fairly sizable buffer in the relegation fight, they will be eager to start the season with some wins to move them to even safer footing. Santos had the second-worst attacking record in the Apertura, though, and getting through Tigres’ defense may be a significant challenge.

León vs Pachuca – 8:06 PM – Galavision
León finished 8th in the Apertura season and upset first-seeded Tijuana in the playoffs before falling in the semifinal round. La Fiera will be looking for another good season here, and they ended the Apertura with a 10-game unbeaten streak and a six-game home unbeaten streak. With the return of Carlos Peña and some other offseason additions, León will look to make a statement in their opening game.

As for Pachuca, the Tuzos finished 2nd in the Apertura but were knocked out of the playoffs in the first round. They had the best attacking record in the league last season and will look for a repeat of the Apertura opener, where they put 5 past León in an emphatic victory. However, Pachuca’s away form has been a big question mark in recent seasons and it was equally mixed last season, with three wins, one draw, and four losses.

Chivas de Guadalajara vs Pumas UNAM – 10:06 PM – Univision Deportes
Chivas de Guadalajara finished 4th in the Apertura, but they were knocked out of the playoffs in the first round by rivals América. Chivas had a good defensive record last season – second-best in the league – but they struggled at the other end of the field with the fourth-fewest goals scored. El Rebaño were strong at home, though, with just two losses in the Estadio Chivas, and they’ll look to get the Clausura off to a good start here.

As for Pumas UNAM, the universitarios finished 6th in the Apertura although they, like Chivas, lost in the first round of the playoffs, falling to eventual champion Tigres UANL. Pumas ended the regular season with a two-game road winning streak, although before that they endured a seven-game road winless streak. They will look to pick up where they left off with a good road showing in this one to set the tone for the new season.

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