Liga MX: Tigres-Monterrey highlights Week 10 slate

MONTERREY, MEXICO - SEPTEMBER 01: Andres Andrade of Atlas celebrates with teammates after scoring his teams first goal during the 6th round match between Tigres UANL and Veracruz as part of the Torneo Apertura 2018 Liga MX at Universitario de Monterrey on September 1, 2018 in Monterrey, Mexico. (Photo by Azael Rodriguez/Getty Images)
MONTERREY, MEXICO - SEPTEMBER 01: Andres Andrade of Atlas celebrates with teammates after scoring his teams first goal during the 6th round match between Tigres UANL and Veracruz as part of the Torneo Apertura 2018 Liga MX at Universitario de Monterrey on September 1, 2018 in Monterrey, Mexico. (Photo by Azael Rodriguez/Getty Images) /

The battle lines are drawn in Monterrey as the Clásico Regio approaches. The Tigres are high after claiming the inaugural Campeones Cup with a convincing win in Toronto while the Rayados of Monterrey are still licking their wounds after the Chivas gave them a spanking last weekend. The loser could drop out of playoff position momentarily while the winner will claim momentum for the home stretch.

Other key Liga MX matches see slumping Morelia faces the rising Pumas and Toluca hosting giant-killers Necaxa.

Monterrey at Tigres

The 115th rendition of the Clásico Regiomontano is easily the marquee game of the Week 10 schedule (some would argue it is the top game of the season!), pitting two of the most expensive Liga MX squads in an intensely competitive derby on Saturday night.

Monterrey arrives with unimpressive stats (13 goals for, 13 goals against) and is dealing with injury issues. While captain José María Basante is expected back to galvanize the defense, forwards Avilés Hurtado (out for three weeks with a hamstring strain) and Jonathan Urretaviscaya (right knee) will miss out.

Coach Diego Alonso has a tough decision to make. Will he play with only two attackers (Luis Madrigal and Dorlan Pabón) or will he move midfielder Rodolfo Pizarro into a more forward position? Striker Rogelio Funes Mori is also available for duty.

Key for the Rayados will be the defensive midfield pairing of Jonathan González and Celso Ortiz. They will be expected to disrupt the Tigres as they move into their offensive third and allow the back line to concentrate on checking André-Pierre Gignac and Edu Vargas.

For the Tigres, they must not celebrate their impressive 3-1 win too long because their derby rival will be eager to knock them back to earth.

Jesús Dueñas was the star for the Tigres with two goals, but if Coach Tuca Ferretti opts for the same 3-4-3 line-up he used in Toronto, then Dueñas will spend time chasing Pabón. Skipper Juninho seems to have recovered full game fitness and his passing and leadership on the back line will make the Tigres dangerous.

The Tigres will again be without winger Javier Aquino, but Lucas Zelarayán will be called upon to spread the Monterrey defense and find his mates with crosses. In my opinion, the double-pivot in midfield – Rafa Carioca and Guido Pizarro – will decide the outcome of this game. If they close down the middle of the pitch to Pizarro and cut off Pabón’s passing lanes, the Tigres will claim victory in this derby.

Related Story. Tigres - Monterrey Preview. light


UNAM at Morelia

The Pumas are an enigma. They scored 10 goals in their first three games, then were shut out three straight games and have scored 8 goals in the past three games. If they find a rhythm going forward, the Monarcas will be hard pressed to break out of their slump.

Four different Pumas scored last week against Lobos BUAP, a tribute to their unselfishness and adaptability. A month ago, UNAM fans were calling for coach David Patiño’s head; now they are singing his praises.

Captain Pablo Barrera is a threat on the flanks and the trio in attack – Carlos González, Matías Alustiza and Felipe Mora – are getting more comfortable in their new surroundings. If the Pumas get steady play in midfield, they’ll be fine.

Morelia was being touted as the surprise team of the season through Matchday 7, but the past two games have been disasters. Steadiness on defense and patience on offense have been sorely lacking. Coach Roberto Hernández must re-establish his team’s tactical discipline and find somebody to put the ball in the net. Irven Ávila and Carlos Fierro in particular have been too wasteful with scoring opportunities.

América at Puebla

The Águilas got a scare this week when starlet Diego Lainez was chopped down by defender Bruno Valdez during a scrimmage. He is doubtful to suit up with a mild knee sprain.

Coach Miguel Herrera still has plenty of attacking options to choose from now that Roger Martínez was back training after missing last week’s win vs. Morelia. Wingers Cecilio Domínguez and Andrés Ibarguen will surely wreak havoc on the flanks and create space for Oribe Peralta and Martínez (or Henry Martin) in front of goal.

The two-headed midfield monster of Guido Rodríguez and Mateus Uribe will prey on Puebla’s ball-handlers and allow fullbacks Paul Aguilar and Jorge Eduardo Sánchez to move forward with impunity.

More from Viva Liga MX

The host Camoteros favor a conservative style typical of Enrique Meza coached teams and they will probably play more of a 4-5-1 with Lucas Cavallini lurking up front looking for counterattacking possibilities. Puebla keeper Nicolás Vikonis has frequently been tested this season and he better be ready for a vigorous workout.


Necaxa at Toluca

The Rayos are coming off a stunning 2-0 upset over previously unbeaten Cruz Azul but they have lost all four road games this season and have struggled to score away from home. That’s bad news for Necaxa because Toluca has scored 10 goals in its five home games thus far.

Toluca is rounding into form after shaking off early-season injury issues and skipper Rubens Sambueza will test the young Rayos defense. Midfield mate William da Silva has also been playing well, so Necaxa must be prepared to get back and break up Toluca’s possession game.

Necaxa will continue to rely on midfield general Mati Fernández and striker Víctor Dávila to lead their quick-pass attack, but Brian Fernández and Daniel Álvarez must be more productive with possession and less careless with their passes.

Atlas at Cruz Azul

No better way to recover from an upset loss than to see the winless Zorros on your schedule. Cruz Azul must forget last week’s missteps and focus on Atlas, but it would be a mistake to take a win for granted.

Although Atlas has been punchless this season (1 goal in 9 games), a careless performance by the Cementeros could see doubts start to arise for Pedro Caixinha’s club. Cruz Azul has been formidable on defense, but the offense has been erratic if opportunistic.

Elías Hernández has been the sparkplug for Cruz Azul, but the Cementeros desperately need one of their strikers to stand out. Caixinha has been rotating his forwards (Martín Cauteruccio, Milton Caraglio and Édgar Méndez), partly to keep them fresh but partly because none of the three has seized the opportunity to claim the starting job as his own.

Center backs Pablo Aguilar and Julio César Domínguez have been dominant at times and Iván Marcone has been a destructor in front of them, but it’s time for the fullbacks to step up and connect with their crosses.

New Atlas coach Guillermo Hoyos is on the bench for only his second league match and he will need time to fix the mess he has been left with.

Pachuca at Tijuana

Tijuana has not met expectations this season, but the Xolos are undefeated at home (2-3-0). Meanwhile, Pachuca is coming off a disappointing draw, allowing the Tigres to equalize in the game’s final 10 minutes.

Last time on the road, Pachuca stunned Guadalajara and the Tuzos will need more magic from Franco Jara if they are to maintain their playoff push. Coach Pako Ayestarán might also give striker Leo Ulloa a longer look this time out because the Tuzos have struggled to score.

Pachuca midfielders Víctor Guzmán and Erick Aguirre should thrive on the fast turf at Estadio Caliente but Tuzos fullbacks Manny García and “Shaggy” Martínez must beware the Xolos speed.

Tijuana absolutely must get points this weekend at home if the Xolos are to keep their postseason dreams alive.


Querétaro at Guadalajara

If eighth-place Querétaro is to nab a playoff berth it’s likely they will have to nudge past the Chivas who currently sit in ninth place. After a tough loss at home last week to Puebla, the Gallos Blancos must rediscover their scoring touch.

In their last two games away from home, the Gallos Blancos came away with key wins and Sunday’s clash at Estadio Akron could be seen as a must-win for Querétaro. Striker Camilo Sanvezzo will test the Chivas back line but he must get help from Daniel Villalva and Gael Acosta, as well as teen sensation Marcel Ruiz.

Oddly enough, I think Gallos Blancos fullbacks Miguel Samudio and George Corral could be the key to the match. If they are able to push forward and test the width of the Chivas defense, the Gallos Blancos might pull off another road surprise.

Guadalajara is coming off a very impressive road win at Monterrey, but the Chivas can’t afford to rest on their laurels. Once again, coach José Cardozo will not be able to call upon midfielders Orbelín Pineda and Michael Pérez, but 20-year-old Alan Cervantes was a real revelation last week.

Chivas striker Alan Pulido seems ready for a full game, but Cardozo has been pleased with Ángel Saldívar’s work rate and production. Eduardo López and Isaac Brizuela have been in fine form and it will be up to them to make sure Corral and Samudio can’t get forward for Querétaro.

Veracruz at Santos

Julio Furch and Jonathan Rodríguez lead a potent Santos attack and Veracruz has the leakiest defense in the league. On paper, this should be a rout for the home team, but the Tiburones play hard regardless of the score.

Santos is in a favorable stretch (after Veracruz, they play Necaxa and Atlas) so the Guerreros could go a long way in securing a favorable postseason seed if they keep their foot to the gas.

Lobos BUAP at León

The least attractive game on the docket, slumping León hosts the second-worst team in the league. New León coach Ignacio Ambriz will be directing the Esmeraldas for the first time and he’ll want to get back to the basics because León has seen its season fall apart the past two weeks.

The main focus for Ambriz will be to tighten things up in midfield. Luis Montes has fallen into a funk and feisty Pedro Aquino has been prone to yellow cards (he missed last week’s loss at Santos after being shown red in Week 8). A failure to earn all three points at home will make a permanent stay for Ambriz difficult to accept.