Every Monday, throughout the season, Tom Harrison rounds-up and analyses the best of the weekend’s Liga MX action.
Cecilio wins Clásico Cápitalino for América in extraordinary fashion
Liga MX is a special league. A league where you’re never far away from the next piece of drama or unbelievable play.
Unbelievable sums up what we saw in the 80th minute at Estadio Azteca.
A rather evenly-matched Clásico appeared to be heading for a draw until this point. Oribe Peralta had given the hosts the lead with a classy finish after Carlos Darwin Quintero, who made seven key passes on the day, had found Peralta with a clever chipped pass. But Nicólas Castillo equalised 13 minutes later, heading in Mauro Formica’s miss-hit effort.
— Tom Harrison (@tomh_36) August 7, 2017
América had their chance to re-take the lead on the stroke of half-time, after being awarded a bizarre penalty. Silvio Romero grabbed the ball, looking to silence his critics, and attempted the always outrageous ‘panenka’. Romero had fooled Alfredo Saldívar, but the Pumas keeper adjust extremely well to seeing the chipped penalty, stopping mid-dive, pushing himself upright and clawing the ball off the line.
When Las Águilas were awarded a less controversial penalty in the 80th minute, Silvio had been taken off, and Miguel “Piojo” Herrera made it very clear who he wanted to take the spot kick. Cecilio Domínguez.
As talented and flamboyant as Cecilio is, surely he wouldn’t attempt another panenka. Surely.
Of course, Cecilio did, and this time the chipped penalty found the back of the net, winning the Clásico and three points for América.
Another jaw-dropping Liga MX moment for fans to savour. It’s these sorts of moments that helps to cement the belief of many that Liga MX is the most underrated global league, outside of North America. If Liga MX were able to better market and display these extraordinary moments, that you don’t see anywhere near as often in the major European leagues, it could massively boost its reputation and standing around the world.
What’s going wrong at Tijuana?
“I don’t like how my team plays.” These, the concerning words of Tijuana coach Eduardo “Cacho” Coudet.
Three games, three defeats, zero goals scored, six goals conceded. It’s been an awful start for Coudet and the new-look Xolos side. So, what’s going wrong?
57, 61 and 61. These are the three possession percentages from Tijuana’s Liga MX matches so far this season. Despite this, Tijuana have managed just eight shots on target, and 33 shots in total.
Cruz Azul, Necaxa and Monterrey have all found it far too easy to sit back and prevent Tijuana from penetrating their defence and creating chances.
With the exception of Víctor Malcorra, who is averaging three key passes per game, Los Xolos’ attackers have all flattered to deceive, and failed to link-up effectively.
The large possession figures also leads us to another problem with Tijuana this season. As much of their possession is gained as a result of a fairly high-pressing game, it leaves them vulnerable on the counter.
Tijuana have often been unable to delay and prevent counters from taking place, particularly against Monterrey, who enjoyed a straight-forward victory on Friday by sitting back and letting the front three of Avilés Hurtado, Dorlan Pabón and Rogelio Funes Mori exploit transitions.
There have also been far too many poor individual performances. Tijuana are the only team to have committed more than 20 fouls in all their league games this season. They’ve also lost most duels than they’ve won in each match.
Avilés Hurtado’s first goal and Carlos Sánchez’s goal on Friday could have been prevented had Tijuana’s one-on-one defending been better.
This g⚽️⚽️l by Aviles Hurtado is the difference at the half. ?
Rayados 1️⃣, Xolos 0️⃣
— Fut Mex Nation (@FutMXNation) August 5, 2017
The combination of a new coach, an influx of new players, and the short pre-season in Mexico, have combined to create a dis-jointed, weak Tijuana side in the early part of the season.
Coudet needs to hope that he has time to get his squad to gel, find his strongest starting line-up, and, eventually, like the way his team plays.
One thing that he may look to tweak soon is his line-up and system. So far Coudet has been using a 4-4-2/4-2-3-1 with Henry Martín or Juan Martín Lucero playing just off a ‘number nine’. Perhaps a more creative talent like Malcorra, playing a little deeper, would be more effective as a central attacking force.
Coudet may also consider bringing in Enzo Kalinski as a third midfielder, and switch to a 4-3-3. This would likely improve Tijuana’s ability to prevent exploitation on the counter.
Whether Coudet makes changes or not, improvements must be seen. Otherwise shouts of “fuera Coudet” will only increase.
— Cesar Hernandez (@cesarhfutbol) August 5, 2017
Performance of the Week- Monterrey
When talking about Monterrey’s performance at Tijuana, you have to take the display from Los Xolos into account.
Tijuana played right into the hands of a side that are capable of devastating opponents on the counter, particularly following the addition of Avilés Hurtado. Coudet’s team bossed possession, fielded a high line, but gave the ball away too often, with a 74% pass effectiveness on Friday. When Tijuana lost the ball, they were able to delay or break-up many of Monterrey’s counter attacks.
Having said this, Los Rayados deserve plenty of credit for the most comfortable victory of the jornada.
— Tom Harrison (@tomh_36) August 5, 2017
Monterrey comfortably prevented Tijuana from creating meaningful opportunities, with César Montes impressing on his return to Liga MX after time with Mexico at the Gold Cup. Montes made seven interceptions at Estadio Caliente.
When Monterrey won possession from Tijuana, they often carried a real threat on the counter. After some improvements last week against Veracruz, this was more evidence that the front three of Hurtado, Dorlan Pabón and Rogelio Funes Mori are starting to develop understanding and fluidity. Both Hurtado and Pabón could have increased the winning margin had they finished good opportunities from first-half counter-attacks.
Monterrey did display some class in front of goal though. Hurtado’s left-footed curler found the bottom corner, whilst Carlos Sánchez’s goal stemmed from an impressive dribble into the box.
Sánchez was the pick of the Monterrey players, providing two assists alongside his goal, as well as a significant defensive contribution (two interceptions, two tackles, one block).
A comfortable victory that will have delighted Antonio “Turco” Mohamed. Monterrey are starting to look like major title contenders.
Stat of the Week
Fun fact: Since the 3-2 victory over Puebla in April, Chivas have won as many trophies as they've won #ligamxeng matches
— Tom Harrison (@tomh_36) August 6, 2017
Golazo of the Week: Mateus Goncalves- Toluca v Atlas
(85') G⚽️⚽️LAZO by Matheus Gonçalves
— Fut Mex Nation (@FutMXNation) August 6, 2017