With less than two weeks to go before the arrival of the new Liga MX season, the start is just around the corner. In this article I’ll be previewing each team and their search for success in the upcoming season. With the majority of teams having lost players to this summer’s Gold Cup, it will be interesting to see how teams cope with said losses while trying to start their respective campaigns on a high note. This season is looking to be better than the last with the likes of Chivas and America both respectively looking for their 13th domestic league title and teams like Tigres and Monterrey looking to get into the mix of things. With everything up for grabs in the early stages of the competition it will be up to the teams at hand to start off on the right foot.
Liga MX Preview: Apertura 2017
Las Aguilas will be looking to fly high this season after having a dull Centenario last year. With newly appointed manager Miguel “Piojo” Herrera at the helm of the club, America will have their eyes set on winning the league title and claiming themselves as the best all-time Mexican team. After offloading a couple of players and bringing in the likes of Guido Rodriguez from Xolos, the team will be looking to right their wrongs from last season. The pressure will be on for the team to deliver right away, and all eyes will be on Diego Lainez and company to get the results needed.
The Foxes will be looking to emulate the run the had at the end of last season, where they where able to reach the the playoffs, but were knocked out by rivals Chivas. Also at the same time, they’ll be looking to get themselves out of the relegation battle. It will be interesting to see how exactly this side can cope with the loss of some of their key players from last season. Another thing to see is how fit can club captain Rafa Marquez can stay for the length of the tournament. Candidates to be one of teams to look out for, Atlas will have to pick up a good amount of results right away before the walls start closing in on them.
This being Paco Jemez’s second season in charge of La Machina, it will be interesting to see how he can improve on his team. The team did well to bring in the likes of Jordan Silva, Felipe Mora, and Edgar Mendez to balance out the likes of losing some key starters in the draft. It will be important for the team to get results early on to cool the negativity surrounding the club and manager who now is the hot seat. Especially if you consider the fact that Cruz Azul are very well in the mix of a possible relegation battle if they don’t pick up points early on and other teams do.
Current Liga MX champions, Chivas will be looking to defend their title and while doing so hoping to obtain yet another piece of silverware to their name. After making no real signings to strengthen the squad and having a majority of their starting players being used in this summer’s Gold Cup tournament, many will question Matias Almeyda’s side. Suffice to say though when this team does eventually get their players back they will definitely be in the run for at least a playoff position.
Leon will be looking to improve after having had a poor end to their season. With the addition of Ivan Piris to this side, Las Pansas Verdes side should be more consistent. Even after losing the likes of Gulit Pena to Rangers, Leon have a very talented side that need only time and self-belief to really gel in order to become a top competitive side once again. A key player for this team will be Luis Montes who will need to be the solid leader at the heart of the midfield.
Newly promoted side Lobos BUAP will be thrown right into the fight for survival for this upcoming season. They will be looking to make an impact right away and showcase why they are where they are, while at the same time earning vital points to keep themselves away from the drop zone. As any new promoted side, Lobos made a huge amount of signings for this season as expected, but while doing so incorporating a vast number of experience with the likes of “Maza” Rodriguez, Carlos Morales, and Juan Carlos Medina. With that said the success of this side will all depend on how well this team can play and work together.
Probably one of the favorites coming into the season, Monterrey really only face one big obstacle and that is themselves. With the latest locker room drama surrounding Antonio Mohamed’s side and the fall out between Edwin Cardona and the club, the bad stigma following Monterrey could be a huge distraction during the season. With that said, the team made great signings in bringing in the likes of Aviles Hurtado who will definitely strengthen the side even more. Their goal will be to not only be the best team in Monterrey, but also front runners for this Apertura tournament.
After their dramatic end to the season and seeing their side stay up in the league, Monarcas Morelia will be looking to establish some stability across the season. With only a couple of signings made like the one of Angel Sepulveda, Morelia’s real achievement was retaining the services of star forward Raul Ruidiaz which will be huge moving forward. The only main concern will be in the lack of possible squad depth this side could have seeing as how they did let go quite a few bit of players.
With newly appointed manager Ignacio “Nacho” Ambriz looking to make a statement with this new team, Necaxa will be looking to compete for a playoff spot. Whether they will be able to do so with all these new faces will remain to be seen. The loss of Edson Puch will definitely have an impact on this side, but it will be up to Ambriz to ease that transition and make this side not only play well together, but really compete through out the season.
Los Tuzos will be looking to definitely make the playoffs after just missing out in their last campaign. The big question though that will surround them in being able to do so, is how they cope with the loss of star player Hirving Lozano and how fast Edson Puch can adapt to the playing style of this Pachuca side. This team will still continue to incorporate youth and experience on the pitch which has worked wonders for them in past years.
With multiple economic problems surrounding the club and players many will doubt how far this Puebla side can go. Even with the new TV AZZteca deal placed into motion, all the excess distraction off the pitch could affect what happened on it. With a multitude of players leaving and coming into the team newly appointed manager Rafael Garcia will have to find a way to keep all of that negativity away from his players and focus their attention on winning games in order to avoid getting pulled back into the relegation zone.
Francisco Palencia will be adamant in making his Pumas side a top tier contender for the Apertura. Whether or not he will be able to will remain to be seen. With the interesting signings made of Joffre Guerron, Nestor Calderon, and Mauro Formica to boost their attacking options, things could look promising for them. A key factor though in making a good run in the tournament will be having and keeping striker Nico Castillo fit and healthy, free from injuries.
Queretaro will be a side that will be formed up by mostly youth players this season, due to fact that they lost quite a few players and were only able to bring in three reinforcements. Jaime Lozano seems to have a vote of confidence for his youngsters claiming they inspire and bring hope to the dressing room. Many will question his side’s ability to get results, which in the end could see this Queretaro team go into the relegation battle zone once again.
The team from Torreon will be ultimately be competing for nothing less than a playoff position. With no real major signings made before the start of season, Los Laguneros will be looking at their youngsters to perform and make an impact just like they did last season. One of those players that everyone will keep an eye on will be Gael Sandoval who will be looking to impress the likes of everyone, even the national team. The team has more than enough talent and strength to push for a playoff spot.
One of the favorites to win the Apertura title, Tigres should find themselves in a comfortable position to get a playoff spot come November. There’s no doubt that this team has plenty of depth and is building an even stronger star-studded side. With their latest addition of Enner Valencia to bolster their attack, the departure of Guido Pizzaro doesn’t seem to have much of an impact as of yet. Especially considering the fact that Tigres are heavily linked to Gary Medel as his replacement. That said, can having too many stars affect how this team can play? We’ve seen it before that not all the time these players can work as a cohesive unit right away.
A new beginning will start for this Xolos side who seeing the likes of their star players Aviles Hurtado and Guido Rodriguez be poached by other clubs this summer. With newly appointed manager Eduardo Coudet leading this side, it will be interesting to see how well and how fast he can adapt to the league Even with the loss of the above mentioned players, Tijuana have done well to bring in experienced players who can come in and do a wonderful job. The likes of striker Gustavo Bou is a perfect example. He is highly rated as being the best possible signing for Xolos.
Los Diablos Rojos will be looking to continue to celebrate their centennial. Their objective will be to reach the playoffs and hopefully aspire to maybe even the title. With the likes of Sinha and Pablo da Silva no longer at the club, the team will lack that experience and locker room leadership brought by those two veteran players. Even with all that, Toluca have managed to acquire a couple of interesting signings such as defender Santiago Garcia, the ex-Werder Bremen player. The team will have to build a new structure as far as leadership goes but the talent is there to compete.
This team is in the hottest seat of the house. Fighting to stay afloat, this Veracruz side will have to fight until the end to try and avoid relegation. With the additions they have made to this squad, one could see this Veracruz side do quite well for themselves as long as there is no off-the-pitch distractions for the team to deal with. The most exciting signing for Veracruz could very well be their new defender Guido Milan, who could come in and use his European experience to really help sort out the defense. Los Tiburones could potentially be the new dark horse of this competition seeing as how their squad does have quality to compete.
My Top 8 prediction: