The first week of the 2019 Liga MX Clausura is in the books, and while Club América still hasn’t played a single game this season, it remains the undisputed favorite to repeat as Liga MX champion.
Club América got the week off because of its run to last season’s Liga MX final, but the other two teams from Mexico City were in action. Cruz Azul and Pumas UNAM were projected as legitimate threats to win the championship, but they kicked off the season looking like anything but.
In the case of Cruz Azul, they opened the season with a 1-1 draw at Puebla, in a game which frankly should have gone the Máquina’s way. Cruz Azul remains behind only América, Tigres UANL and Monterrey in the favorites list, but there is the worry that La Máquina will start the season low of confidence after losing last season’s Liga MX final.
Meanwhile, Pumas UNAM was involved in a snoozefest against Veracruz. It was an embarrassing performance in the form of a 0-0 draw against arguably the worst team in the whole league. Following a season when you got the feeling Pumas didn’t get the respect that they deserved, sitting sixth in the favorites list seems a bit generous, especially considering this Pumas team is unchanged from the one that received a thumping from América in last season’s semifinals.
Monterrey teams flex their muscles
While it was a slow start for the teams from Mexico City, the Monterrey teams had a little more to cheer about in Week 1.
For starters, Monterrey grabbed the first big win of the season by crushing Pachuca 5-0 at the Estadio BBVA Bancomer. It was the kind of win that sent a statement across the rest of the league, and what was perhaps most impressive about it was that it wasn’t against just any team. The win came against Pachuca, which quietly built one of the better squads in this Clausura.
In retrospect, Monterrey suffered from injuries in all of last season, and if they manage to stay healthy in this Clausura, there will be a real belief that this team might have a shot at claiming the title.
As for Tigres UANL, they were always the second-favorite to lift the title after Club América. That said, if it weren’t for a late penalty from Andre-Pierre Gignac, we would be talking about a losing start for the Felinos. Though Ricardo “Tuca” Ferretti’s men didn’t look awful, they failed to break down a León team that has been underwhelming for a pair of seasons now.
Of course, Tigres has never been the kind of team to start the season firing on all cylinders, and in fact, the season is still very young. Despite some problems, Tigres should remain in the discussion along with their crosstown rivals Rayados.
Chivas shows promise
To say Chivas Guadalajara arrived to this tournament with its fair share of issues would be a massive understatement, but Chivas put all their negativity aside and cruised to a 2-0 win over Xolos de Tijuana in their 2018 Liga MX Clausura debut.
Chivas put forth an embarrassing performance in the Club World Cup back in December, but that somehow didn’t stop the oddsmakers from putting Chivas in the top 10 to win the Liga MX title at the start of the season. The Rebaño Sagrado backed up their favoritism with a promising victory, earning their first home win in 18 Liga MX matches.
There is no denying they are a good team, as they had their bright moments last season despite not making the playoffs. As with América, you can really never count out Chivas. They are the second-winningest team in the Liga MX record books, and they have a history of going on unlikely championship runs. As such, the Rebaño are definitely a team worth keeping an eye on.