Just days after the end of the international break, Liga MX recently returned to play with Week 4 of the 2022 Clausura. In the latest round, Mexico’s top flight showcased a seven-goal thriller, another setback for league giants Club America, a continued place at the top of the table for Puebla, and some intriguing off-the-field news regarding TV ratings. In case you missed anything, here are three talking points from Week 4.
Are Solari’s days numbered with Club America?
After closing out 2021 with a five-game winless streak in all competitions, Club America manager Santiago Solari kicked off the new year with a draw and two losses in the Clausura tournament. That’s eight matches in a row without a win, and following Saturday’s 3-2 defeat at home by San Luis, chants of “Fuera Solari” (Solari out) once again began to ring out at the Estadio Azteca.
“We weren’t good,” said Solari after the match. “San Luis got the result because they worked for it and they deserve it.”
Coupled with a lack of a Liga MX title in his previous two seasons, will the former Real Madrid coach last much longer with Las Aguilas?
According to a report from ESPN MX, Solari is safe — for now. There is an understanding that new additions to his squad and injuries have impacted the first few weeks. That said, the report also suggests that the next two weeks will likely dictate his future with the club.
If Solari and America don’t pick up some much-needed points against Santos Laguna, Mazatlan and Pachuca, there may be little patience left with his bosses. Unfortunately for Solari, one of those upcoming opponents have started to take charge in the Clausura.
Pachuca and Puebla: Early dark horses
Pachuca already had two goals by the time they earned a red card in the 21st minute against Necaxa, and Los Tuzos held onto their lead in an eventual 3-1 away win last Saturday. With a man down for most of the match, Pachuca manager Guillermo Almada had no issues guiding his organized and clinical squad to their third win in four games.
There’s a lot to like about Almada’s high-pressing and aggressive tactics, and with plenty of faith in Pachuca’s young academy players, they’ll easily be a team to watch this season. And if you haven’t had a chance to watch Aviles Hurtado’s golazo off a bicycle kick for Pachuca in the 10th minute, you are missing out on a Liga MX goal of the season candidate.
Along with Pachuca, Puebla have also emerged as intriguing dark horses.
Under the guidance of 37-year-old manager Nicolas Larcamon, Los Camoteros have frustrated opponents with their well-drilled and energetic system that can drift between a 5-4-1 formation and 4-2-3-1. In Sunday’s 2-0 away victory over Queretaro, we saw this in action as his team wasted no time with their direct play that had them finding both goals in the 1st half.
It’s impressive to watch, and within this approach that is greater than the sum of its parts, 21-year-old midfielder Maxi Araujo has become vital with his daring runs up and down the left flank. The Uruguayan, who has two goals and an assist in his first four games of the season, has been a key figure for the team that’s on top of the table with 10 points.
Bump in Liga MX goals continues with wild Tigres-Mazatlan shootout
Last season it took until Week 16 to have three matches with five or more goals. This season, it only took until Week 4, thanks to Tigres’ 4-3 win over Mazatlan. With some help from Tigres and Mazatlan on Sunday, the days of fans and media complaining about countless 0-0s or 1-0s in Liga MX play are now long gone.
Although Tigres were dominant with their all-star caliber attack, last-placed Mazatlan should be given credit for putting up a fight and scoring three times away from home. Mazatlan have been a mess this season and without a win to their name in 2022, but it speaks volumes to the parity of Liga MX when they’re still able to knock in three opportunities against a team like Tigres.
We’ll see if more matches like these follow. After an unexciting average of 2.19 goals per game in the 2021 Apertura, the 2022 Clausura has since taken off with an average of 2.78 so far.
FC Juarez vs. Chivas was postponed due to weather conditions and will now be played on Wednesday. Whether returning loanee Jose Juan Macias will be ready for Chivas remains up in the air. Monterrey’s away game vs. Toluca was pushed back to April 6 due to their involvement in the Club World Cup.
On the topic of Monterrey’s run in the tournament, Los Rayados had a dismal start to the Club World Cup with an immediate 1-0 loss to Egypt’s Al Ahly last Saturday. While Al Ahly will now face Copa Libertadores winners Palmeiras in the semifinals, Monterrey will battle it out for 5th place on Wednesday.
To wrap things up, we’ll close out with a fascinating off-the-field announcement from Liga MX last week — although the news that they had made an exclusive video game partnership with Konami’s eFootball is also worth a quick mention. On Wednesday, the league announced that the 2021 Apertura season had a combined TV viewership of 76.8 million in Mexico and the United States. Of that 76.8 million, nearly half of that TV viewership (36.4 million) was from the United States.
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