Liga MX Preview: Zavala rallies Monterrey

Monterrey midfielder Jesus Zavala has urged his team-mates to improve their work-rate in a bid to arrest their slump in Liga MX.

Carlos Barra's Monterrey opened the season with back-to-back wins but the four-time champions have gone off the boil recently, picking up just one point from their past two matches to drop five points behind leaders America heading into round five.

Monterrey were beaten 2-1 last week as Veracruz cancelled out their opponent's half-time lead with two goals in the space of 10 minutes late on.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's showdown with Cruz Azul, Zavala said Monterrey had to compete physically for longer periods of games, having faded away in the second half in recent fixtures.

"The team is good, what is difficult for us in recent games is that we were unable to keep up, sometimes we have a great first half, the second half started well and then the rate begins to drop and we lose possession and rhythm," the Mexico international told the club's official website.

"Now as happened against Veracruz got round in 10 minutes and that cannot happen. The team must lengthen that time, try to make things right, because they are important points to visit and take three points.

"The team has to work on that, to maintain the pace of the game, you have to learn from what happened to us in this last game and now we have two home games that are important to add and being in the limelight is what we want."

Monterrey face a tough assignment against a Cruz Azul side beginning to find their stride after a slow start.

Cruz Azul lost their first game of the season but two consecutive draws, followed by a win over Puebla, have been cause for optimism in Mexico City.

High-flying America can make it five-from-five when they host second-bottom Morelia on Saturday.

America have won all four of their matches thus far to sit two points clear of nearest rivals Atlas and are overwhelming favourites to get the job done against winless Morelia, despite losing star striker and top goalscorer Raul Jimenez to Spanish champions Atletico Madrid during the week.

Atlas - also unbeaten in the league - play host to cellar-dwellers Universidad Guadalajara on Saturday.

The other fixture on Saturday sees seventh-placed Tigres UANL travel to Puebla, who have lost two games in succession.

Defending champions Leon will be out to kick-start their season when they host Pumas UNAM on Thursday, in a battle of the two strugglers, with both teams locked on three points from four games.

Third-placed Queretaro can make it four wins on the bounce with victory over Veracruz on Friday.

Winless Tijuana - third from bottom - are also in action on Friday, hosting fifth-placed Chiapas.

Meanwhile, Pachuca make the trip to Toluca on Sunday, with one point separating the two sides in the middle of the table.

Guadalajara, who have a game in hand, are set to go head-to-head against Santos Laguna on the same day.


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