By Dan Price
The football headlines in Mexico this week have been dominated by two off-the-pitch stories – the resignation of Pedro Caixinha from reigning champions Santos Laguna, and the interim appointment of Tigres UANL manager Tuca Ferretti to the Mexican national side.
Back on the pitch, both Tigres and Santos have work to do after poor starts to the season. Here’s our preview of the weekend action:
Monterrey vs Santos Laguna (Saturday, 8pm EDT)
Santos Laguna’s Portuguese boss Pedro Caixinha unexpectedly stepped down from his role after last weekend’s 2-0 loss to Club America.
Since joining in 2013 he has taken Santos to five semi-finals, one title, and one Copa MX win. They will be big shoes to fill, but the already-appointed Spaniard Pako Ayestaran should prove to be a fine choice. Excellent spells as Rafa Benitez’s assistant at Liverpool and Valencia, combined with managerial success with Estudiantes
Tecos and Maccabi Tel Aviv, prove he has the wherewithal to be successful.
His first game will be a huge challenge. Santos are bottom of the league with one win from five, while Monterrey seem to be clicking up through the gears. They lie fifth with three consecutive wins and a game in hand.
Club Leon vs Chivas (Saturday, 9:05pm EDT)
So far this season, Leon and Chivas have seen their roles reversed. In the Clausura it was Chivas who made an unexpected push to the top of the table, while 2013-14’s back-to-back champions Leon floundered at the bottom.
After five games this season, the opposite is true. Leon sit top of the table with four wins and a solitary loss from their five games so far, while Chivas are down in 17th with a mere four points from a possible 15.
It means relegation is once again becoming a possibility for the Guadalajara-based club. Their current coefficient of 1.0822 means they are only above Dorados (1.0000) in the Tabla de Descenso. Given how volatile newly promoted sides’ coefficients can be, there is no doubting that their position is precarious.
Club Tijuana vs Tigres UANL (Friday, 10:30pm EDT)
News broke yesterday that Tigres boss Tuca Ferretti would be manager of El Tri for at least the next four games.
According to reports, he was offered the role on a full-time basis but rejected it, suggesting that there will be no extension of his contract after the Confederations Cup playoff. If it works out for him he could walk off as hero, securing the much-sought after spot at Russia 2017 and becoming one of the few Mexico managers to jump before he was pushed.
Given that it’s an interim appointment he will continue with his duties at Tigres, as well as presumably carrying on with the club post-El Tri.
It remains to be seen how well he will be able to balance the two responsibilities. With Tigres’ less-than inspiring start to the Apertura, and with games against America and Monterrey on the horizon, they badly need all three points this weekend.