Cruz Azul opens defense of its Copa MX title on Wednesday while América’s visit to Necaxa is the best match-up of Week 2.
Coach Pedro Caixinha can’t be pleased with the way his Cruz Azul side has opened the Liga MX season, stumbling out of the gate with a tie and a loss. It will be interesting to see if he experiments with strike combinations or if he opts to use second-teamers and academy players.
Big-name winter acquisition Jonathan Rodríguez looks like he needs time to familiarize himself with his new teammates and with coach Caixinha’s tactical preferences. I would expect Cruz Azul to use back-up keeper Alejandro Peláez and several subs on the back line. But as poorly as the Cementeros have looked on offense, I’d be inclined to think Cruz Azul has to play its starters at least half the game.
Cruz Azul’s opponent is León, a 1-0 loser to the Oaxaca Alebrijes last week in the opening match of Group E.
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Over in Group D, Necaxa will be eager to stake an early lead after the Rayos defeated Atlético San Luis 2-0 last week in the opening group match. A home win against América would give the Rayos a 6-point lead over its group rivals.
Necaxa and América both got late starts to the Liga MX season after the Aguilas petitioned to postpone the season-opener scheduled for Jan. 5, claiming its players needed another week to recover after winning the Apertura 2018 title on Dec. 16.
New Necaxa coach Guillermo Vázquez will likely continue mixing and matching his line-up after the Rayos experienced significant turnover during the early weeks of the winter transfer window. There appears to be solid competition going on for several starting spots and Vázquez will want to give all the squad players a chance to challenge for starting spots. His team played with energy and effort in its 2-1 win over the Pumas Saturday night.
Coach Miguel Herrera has no such problem, as América’s title-winning roster did not see much change. Instead, “El Piojo” is more concerned about fitness as two starters are nursing injuries and striker Jeremy Menez is rehabbing a knee.
The Aguilas likely will use back-ups and academy players although starting goalie Agustín Marchesín started every single game for América last season, including all the Copa matches. Most first division teams use their back-ups in the Cup and rest their starter.
Striker Henry Martin might get another start up front since América is still mulling bringing in a scorer before the transfer window closes in two weeks. The club has been wooing Chile striker Nico Castillo who plays for Benfica after starring with the Pumas not too long ago. However, Castillo is waffling, now saying he’d rather stay in Europe but if América promises him he will be a starter, he’d return to Mexico. The Aguilas probably won’t want to make that promise since the have Roger Martínez, Martin and Oribe Peralta on the roster and are hopeful that Menez can return this season.
In other Copa MX matches this week, Guadalajara hosts the Cafetaleros in Group H (the Chivas defeated the Cimarrones of Sonora 2-1 last week) and the Pumas visit Estadio Jalisco to take on the Leones Negros of U de G. The Pumas lost last week to Atlas and have yet to win this year.
In Group C, the cinderella team of the Ascenso MX – Dorados of Sinaloa – visit Querétaro. The Dorados are still without coach Diego Maradona who remains in Argentina recovering from stomach surgery over the weekend. This is the first Cup game for the two teams this season.
Two other first division teams have Cup matches this week: struggling Tijuana hosts second-division side Atlante and Veracruz visits the Mineros of Zacatecas.