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Mexico´s Liga MX starts this weekend with a couple of good matches like Dorados vs Chiapas, Veracruz vs Chivas and Pumas vs Monterrey
Liga MX set for big kick-off
Liga MX´s Apertura 2015 tournament kicks off this weekend

By Dan Price

It’s only eight weeks since Santos Laguna beat Queretaro by an aggregate score of 5-3 in the Clausura final, but the start of the 2015 Apertura season is now just hours away.

Despite the break, it’s been a packed summer soccer-wise. Mexico have flopped in one international tournament and tried their hardest to flop in a second, Tigres have moved to within a whisker of becoming the first Mexican side to win the Copa Libertadores, and Brazilian legend Ronaldinho has returned to his native Brazil.

The Week 1 action starts on Friday evening with Chivas’ trip to Veracruz and concludes on Sunday night with Puebla welcoming America.

Here’s the pick of the opening weekend:

Dorados vs Chiapas (10pm EDT, Saturday 25th)

Dorados return to the top division of Mexican football

At first glance, the Dorados vs Chiapas tie isn’t the most enthralling on the fixture list. Nonetheless, it promises to be an intriguing match-up between two sides that are, to an extent, unknown quantities.

Dorados are the league’s new boys – back in the top flight for the first time since 2006. Despite their promotion, they had a mixed 2014-15 season in the Ascenso MX – great in the Clausura, woeful in the Apertura.

Indeed, before Christmas they won just three games from thirteen and ended down in 11th place, before winning seven times in 2015 and finishing the Clausura regular season just one point behind winners San Luis. 

They eventually won the promotion playoff after a 3-1 aggregate win over Necaxa.

They’ve had one of the busiest summers of all the sides in the league, adding no fewer than fourteen new faces – many of whom are seasoned Liga MX stars. Fans will hope that ex-Chivas keeper Luis Michel, former Leon pair Martin Bravo and Marcos Caicedo, and veteran striker Hector Mancilla will be able to produce the quality to keep them in the division.

Chiapas were similarly hit-and-miss last season. In the Apertura they were hailed as one of the stars of the tournament after an impressive fifth place finish in the regular season, but in the Clausura they buckled and ended the season in 15th place. Which version of Chiapas we see this season largely depends on how well Tigres flop Abraham Carreno can gel with Matias Vuoso in attack.

Pumas UNAM vs Monterrey (1pm EDT, Sunday 26th)

Turco Mohamed, Monterrey´s manager

Pumas and Monterrey were two of the most unpredictable sides last season.

Pumas qualified for the Liguilla in the Apertura, but they only did so on a dramatic final day after several other results went in their favor. A shocking start saw them languishing at the foot of the table after six games, but new manager Guillermo Vazquez guided them back up the table, losing just one of their final thirteen outings.

The Clausura played out in a similar way; they won only one of their first eight games before losing just two of their final nine – however, this time the recovery wasn’t enough to see them into the post-season.

Monterrey were top of the league midway through the Apertura thanks to the goalscoring exploits of Dorlan Pabon, but his goals dried up and they collapsed to a sixth place finish and a semi-final playoff loss against America.

Despite an improvement under new boss Turco Mohamed, they never truly threatened the top eight in the Clausura, ultimately stumbling to a twelfth place finish.

Both sets of fans demand better, and if Mohamed or Vazquez fail to deliver in the first half of the season they could find themselves amongst the first managerial casualties.

Veracruz vs Chivas (8:30pm EDT, Friday 24th)

Omar Bravo, Chivas´ star forward

Veracruz were the surprise package of 2015. They were one of the relegation favorites over Christmas after a 17th place finish in the Apertura, but a solid defense and a steady attack saw them lead the Clausura for large parts of the season. They ultimately finished in third place, one point behind Tigres and America.

Playoff heartache followed, after a 90th minute winner by Yasser Corona in the first leg and a 83rd minute strike by Ronaldinho in the second saw them slip to a 3-2 quarter final aggregate loss against eventual runners-up Queretaro.

Chivas also spent Christmas worrying about impending relegation, but new boss Chepo de la Torre guided them to a fifth place finish in the regular season before losing to Santos Laguna in the playoff semi-final.

How well they do this season largely depends on the form of 35 year old striker Omar Bravo. He remains the club’s only proven Liga MX goalscorer, and if he struggles for form or fitness, the Guadalajara side will struggle.

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