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As the 2015 Apertura nears its halfway stage, the league’s biggest clasicos are set to start coming thick and fast.
Clasico Joven between Cruz Azul and America tops Week 7 billing in Liga MX
08/28/2015
 
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By Dan Price


As the 2015 Apertura nears its halfway stage, the league’s biggest clasicos are set to start coming thick and fast.


Week 9 will see Tigres play Monterrey, while Week 10 sees the Super Clasico between America and Chivas – but excitement starts this weekend with Cruz Azul vs America on Saturday evening.


Cruz Azul vs America (Saturday, 6pm EDT)

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The Clasico Joven is one of the biggest games in the Mexican football calendar – one that is always sure to stir deep passions both in within Mexico City and across the country.


The last six meetings between the two have been evenly balanced, with three wins for Cruz Azul, two for America, and a solitary draw. A little under twelve months ago Cruz Azul won this game 4-0 thanks to goals from Pavone, Gimenez, Flores, and Rojas – but America got their revenge in the Azteca in April when Peralta’s goal gave them a 1-0 win.


The most historic game in recent memory was the final of the 2013 Clausura. Cruz Azul took the first leg 1-0, and when Molina was sent off 14 minutes then Gutierrez put them ahead after 20 minutes in the second leg it appeared their name was on the trophy. It wasn’t to be, however. Two goals in the 90th minute – including one from ‘keeper Munoz – forced the game to extra time, and America eventually won the title in a penalty shootout.


This weekend’s encounter takes place with the two sides enduring very differing fortunes. America had a nightmare start to the season but have won their last four and have moved up to fourth, while Cruz Azul started well but have now lost three on the spin and have slipped to fourteenth.


Cruz Azul need the three points more than America, but ultimately both would probably settle for a draw.


Prediction: Cruz Azul 2-2 America

Toluca vs Club Leon (Sunday, 1pm EDT)

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Leon have led the pack through the early weeks of the season. Although they go into this week’s game with a three point cushion over Pumas, America, Puebla, and Toluca, a loss in the intimidating Estadio Nemesio Díez could see them slip as low as fifth.


Despite sitting fourth, Toluca haven’t yet fully found their rhythm. They won their first two, suffered disappointing back-to-back defeats against Puebla and Morelia, and then promptly won another two consecutive games.


The fixture list has been reasonably kind to them, spacing out their toughest games until they play America, Cruz Azul, and Monterrey in the final three weeks of the season. They’ll want to make sure they don’t let that advantage slip and ensure they win as many points as possible at this stage.


Prediction: Toluca 3-0 Leon

Santos Laguna vs Pumas UNAM (Friday, 10:30pm EDT)

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Santos continue to flounder, having only won one of their six games so far. It’s a shocking return for the defending champions, and they are already six points behind the top eight and chance to defend their title in the post-season.


Pumas look like a reborn side. They’ve won their last three, including morale-boosting wins over Atlas and Pachuca, and they go into the game in second place and the chance to finish the weekend on top of the pile.


On the flipside, they’ve not been going so well in the Copa MX. Tuesday’s loss to Cafetaleros means they need to win both their remaining games against Chiapas and hope Oaxaxa lose both theirs if they want to make the quarter-finals. Nonetheless, fans will not be too bothered if they can grab themselves a place in the Liguilla in two months’ time.


Prediction: Santos Laguna 1-2 Pumas UNAM

 
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