10 Bold Predictions for New Liga MX Season
The 2014 Apertura kicks off on Friday, July 18 with the match between Queretaro and UNAM. For 17 weeks, the Liga MX teams will fight for a place in the Liguilla.
Not all of them arrive with the same momentum. For starters, Leon are the back-to-back defending champions, while Atlas and Guadalajara will fight to stay as far away as possible from the relegation zone.
There are several questions surrounding the 2014 Apertura. Can newly promoted Universidad de Guadalajara stay at Liga MX? Or can Cruz Azul finally secure a league title?
Let's take a look at 10 bold predictions for the upcoming season.
America Will Sack Antonio Mohamed
Antonio Mohamed took over America last season, and despite qualifying for the Liguilla, Las Aguilas were not at their best throughout the tournament.
Their 7-4-6 record left many doubts. Once in the quarterfinals, it seemed like the team was in a better place after defeating Santos Laguna 5-3 in the first leg.
However, Los Guerreros showed America's attacking inconsistencies and shaky defense with a 3-1 victory at Estadio Corona.
Mohamed has brought some big guns for the 2014 Apertura, including Oribe Peralta, so if he doesn't deliver the expected results, he can kiss his job goodbye.
Cruz Azul Won't Even Make the Liguilla
Cruz Azul haven't missed a Liguilla since the 2012 Clausura. However, they haven't secured a Liga MX title since the 1997 Invierno tournament.
In 2013 they lost the Clausura final showdown to America, and although they led the 2014 Clausura table, Toluca defeated them in the quarterfinals.
The team could have won the 2013 Clausura Copa MX and the 2014 CONCACAF Champions League, but locally they have fallen short, and the 2014 Apertura will not be the exception.
Their lack of reinforcements will be one of the main reasons why they won't qualify.
Guadalajara Won't Leave the Relegation Zone
Carlos Bustos arrived in Guadalajara with the task of taking the team out of the relegation zone, which will be far from easy.
Chivas have been struggling with their performance for quite some time. They last appeared in the Liguilla at the 2012 Apertura, when they qualified in eighth place and lost in the quarterfinals to Toluca.
Bustos hopes to overturn the situation with the help of experienced players, but with teams like Pachuca, UNAM and Toluca betting on young blood, it could quickly become mission impossible for the team that has never played on the promotion league.
Leon Will Win Their Third Consecutive Title
Leon will start their campaign with a tough game against America. However, Gustavo Matosas' side will be ready.
Although they suffered a sensible loss last May when Luis Montes fractured his tibia and fibula, they still have Rafael Marquez, Jose Juan Vazquez, Carlos Pena and William Yarbrough at their best.
Los Panzas Verdes will be contenders again. Their verticality, depth and fluidity set them apart as the most dynamic side of the Liga MX.
Oribe Peralta Will Not Perform as He Used to with Santos
At 30 years old, Oribe Peralta is not getting any younger, and he proved it at this summer's World Cup. El Hermoso won't have the same performance he had with Santos Laguna.
Peralta scored eight goals during the 2014 Clausura, compared with 11 he bagged at the 2013 Apertura.
In his World Cup run, he scored once, against Cameroon, and in the six warm-ups he played before El Tri's debut in Brazil 2014, he only put the ball away versus South Korea.
El Hermoso arrives in a team that has other lethal strikers, like Raul Jimenez, who is younger (23) and faster than Peralta.
Will he become a good attacking partner or a shadow?
Pachuca Won't Miss Enner Valencia
According to The Guardian, Ecuador international Enner Valencia has already taken a medical, and the Premier League club will confirm his transfer soon.
Valencia was a thriving force for Pachuca during the 2014 Clausura, as he scored 18 goals in 23 appearances, including a brace in the final showdown.
However, Los Tuzos have a lot of talented youngsters on the team that will surely step up to keep the good results.
Jurgen Damm, Diego de Buen and Rodolfo Pizarro are some of the footballers who have proved to be ready to tackle the challenge, despite being in their early 20s.
Santos Laguna Will Be a Serious Contender
The absence of Oribe Peralta will not necessarily have an impact on Santos Laguna.
Los Guerreros scored 41 goals in the 2014 Clausura, but only eight of those came from El Hermoso's shoes.
Darwin Quintero bagged seven, while Juan Pablo Rodriguez, Javier Orozco and Yair Renteria netted five times apiece.
Santos are strong in the attacking zone, plus they have tough defenders and creative midfielders.
They will not have trouble to secure their ticket to the Liguilla and contend for the title.
Toluca Won't Have the Best Offense of the Tournament
Lucas Lobos, Marco Bueno, Isaac Brizuela, Carlos Orrantia and Pablo Velazquez are just some of the footballers who will shape Toluca's attack.
Los Diablos Rojos have been one of the best clubs since the Mexican Football Federation established the short tournaments.
Coach Jose Saturnino Cardozo decided to put together what on paper seems to be one of the deadliest offensives of the 2014 Apertura.
But this is not necessarily an advantage. Who would you put on the front—an experienced player or a youngster full of life?
Cardozo must be very careful with tactics if he wants his side to be efficient. Too much power in the attacking zone can compromise the defense.
Universidad De Guadalajara Will Qualify to the Liguilla
Recently promoted Universidad de Guadalajara have one of the best and most passionate fanbases in Mexico.
The Leones Negros may not have names such as Cuauhtemoc Blanco, Carlos Pena or Rafael Marquez, but they have heart, hunger and raw talent to have a pleasing performance.
They were consistent throughout their stay at Ascenso MX, missing only four Liguillas. They eventually secured the 2013 Apertura and six months later defeated Estudiantes Tecos in a two-legged playoff to secure a spot in the Liga MX.
Tijuana and Leon have proved that it is possible to come from the promotion league with little-known players and still make a difference.
Youth Will Carry Monterrey to the Liguilla
Monterrey saw two of their key players out of competition due to injuries. Humberto Suazo, their stalwart, was sidelined because he hurt his elbow, while Hiram Mier underwent knee surgery.
However, Los Rayados will turn things around in the 2014 Apertura.
They have a bunch of promising Mexican footballers, such as Candido Ramirez, Darvin Chavez and Luis Madrigal, who performed well despite the inconveniences.
Together, these youngsters will make a difference for Monterrey, who have been absent from the Liguilla since the 2013 Clausura, when they reached the semifinals.
All statistics appear courtesy of MedioTiempo.com, unless otherwise noted.