Liga MX: Toluca to test unbeaten Cruz Azul as Liga MX doubles up

TOLUCA, MEXICO - AUGUST 19: Enrique Triverio (L) of Toluca celebrates with teammate Omar Toribio (R) after scoring the first goal of his team during the fifth round match between Toluca and Tijuana as part of the Torneo Apertura 2018 Liga MX at Nemesio Diez Stadium on August 19, 2018 in Toluca, Mexico. (Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images)
TOLUCA, MEXICO - AUGUST 19: Enrique Triverio (L) of Toluca celebrates with teammate Omar Toribio (R) after scoring the first goal of his team during the fifth round match between Toluca and Tijuana as part of the Torneo Apertura 2018 Liga MX at Nemesio Diez Stadium on August 19, 2018 in Toluca, Mexico. (Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images) /

Week 6 is the middle hurdle in a grueling stretch for Liga MX clubs as most teams will play 3 games in 8 days. Fitness will be put to the test and coaches may dig deeper into their benches to answer questions posed by this challenge.

Unbeaten Cruz Azul welcomes Toluca on Wednesday night in the marquee match-up while Pachuca and Guadalajara will try to establish momentum on Tuesday night after earning their first wins of the season over the weekend.


Pachuca at Morelia

Pachuca finally showed some life after a listless start to the Apertura campaign. But facing Morelia is not going to be easy as the Monarcas are perhaps the most tactically sound team in the league currently.

Gabriel Achilier anchors a solid defensive back-four in front of goalie Sebastián Sosa and Morelia builds its attack with sneaky, trapping defensive play and a pesky five-man midfield. The Monarcas problem has been finishing but that might not be an issue against Pachuca.

The Tuzos have struggled to adjust to a new coach and they signed a new striker – Leonardo Ulloa – late in the transfer window. It might take some time before the former Leicester player gets comfortable in his new surroundings. Meanwhile, until midfielder Erick Gutiérrez rediscovers his joy for the sport, Pachuca will lack for offensive inspiration.

Necaxa at Guadalajara

The Rayos have lost both their road games this season while Guadalajara has not won at home since October. Does that mean a tie is in the cards?

Necaxa must tighten up its defensive play – a team-wide responsibility, not just the back-four – especially because the Chivas have looked good moving forward, Javier “El Chofis” López in particular.

Guadalajara’s problem has been finishing and “El Rebaño Sagrado” can’t afford to be profligate against Necaxa, especially if Mati Fernández is back from injury. The Rayos will test the Chivas in midfield so Michael Pérez will have to be his typical take-charge presence if Guadalajara has hopes of taking all 3 points.

Querétaro at UNAM

The Gallos Blancos held América to a goal at home over the weekend after conceding four times at León the week before. Keeper Tiago Volpi might have to be on his toes against the Pumas who will be eager to get back in the win column after suffering their first loss over the weekend.

UNAM faces América on Saturday, but simply cannot afford to look ahead and give away points to Querétaro. The Gallos Blancos have not scored more than 1 goal in any game this season so the Pumas’ best approach is to start fast by attacking early and often. Look for Felipe Mora and Pablo Barrera to let fly at Volpi from the start.

Atlas at Puebla

Atlas is winless and has not scored a goal this season. Puebla is one of two teams that has given up 10 goals through 5 games (Necaxa is the other) so if the Zorros are going to find the net, this is a good bet.

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Toluca at Cruz Azul

Cruz Azul is undefeated but not unbeatable and Toluca is riding a bit of a hot streak. Ten days ago, the Diablos Rojos handed the Tigres their first home loss in more than three seasons and on Sunday they dismantled Tijuana.

The Cementeros have seen a defender red-carded in each of their past two games, something Coach Caixinha no doubt has addressed. He knows his pupils can’t keep playing with fire and sustain their hot start, especially against Toluca.

I would expect to see Toluca’s rugged midfield play rough with Elías Hernández and Roberto Alvarado in an effort to shut down the Cruz Azul attack. Up front for the Cementeros, Martín Cauteruccio and Édgar Méndez need to demonstrate that they are worth their contracts.

América at León

The Águilas face a true “trap game.” On Monday, América players were still complaining about the referee in Saturday’s Querétaro game while fans are preparing for Saturday’s capital grudge match vs the Pumas.

Meanwhile, León is lurking in the weeds, ready to pounce if the Águilas are not focused on the task at hand. Coach Herrera will have to stop his moaning about the quality of referees (welcome to the Liga MX, Miguel) and prepare his squad for Luis Montes, Mauro Boselli and an aggressive Esmeraldas attack.

León goalie Rodolfo Cota will have to be on his game because América will come out determined to rediscover their goal-scoring touch. The Águilas midfield must rediscover their attack-dog mentality otherwise León will play keep-away in América’s offensive half.

Veracruz at Tigres

The Tigres have been the biggest disappointment of the young season so Veracruz’s visit is coming at the perfect time. A preseason favorite to contend for the title, the Tigres have lost three straight.

Coach Tuca Ferretti has guided the Tigres to three consecutive Apertura titles, but if he doesn’t get the team turned around – and soon – there might not even be a playoff berth this season. This is the time to rediscover championship form because, after hosting Veracruz, the Tigres visit Necaxa, host Atlas then travel to Pachuca.

Veracruz is a mess on and off the field though – to their credit – the players have not given up the ship yet.

Monterrey at Lobos BUAP

The Rayados have played only well enough to win, occasionally appearing to get bored with creating opportunities (and squandering them). Despite an attractive, flowing offense, Monterrey has scored only 6 goals in 5 matches. They are capable of much more and an inferior opponent might be just what they need.

The Lobos purchased their way back into first division but were unable to overhaul their roster significantly. Striker Colin Kazim was picked up on loan from Brazilian giant Corinthians but he has yet to find the range. Coach Francisco Palencia needs to find a line-up he can trust, but the pickings are slim.

Santos at Tijuana

The Guerreros have won 3 straight and are coming off a 3-1 win over the Tigres, while Tijuana has not won since Week 1, topped by an embarrassing loss to Toluca on Sunday.

The Santos strike force of Julio Furch, Johan Rodríguez and Brian Lozano has been clicking of late and Tijuana will have to be alert. At the same time, the Xolos will not want to sit back conservatively because they are at their best when they rely on their quick-passing vertical attack.

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Tijuana coach Diego Cocca might have to be aggressive with his substitution patterns since his offense has too often failed to capitalize on the chances created. It won’t be an easy task with Santos goalie Jonathan Orozco at the top of his game.