The Pope arrived in Mexico about the same time the weekend action was kicking off in Liga MX. While the lessons he imparted upon the faithful were well received, we learned plenty from sticking to the soccer.
Here are five things we learned from Round 6 of the Liga MX Clausura:
TIGRES VULNERABLE, BUT STILL REMARKABLE
Tijuana manager Miguel Herrera deserves a lot of credit for taking his team into the Volcan and coming away with a 2-1 victory. But even though Tigres suffered defeat, there's no reason to think the reigning champion is going to make a habit out of losing.
Nahuel Guzman is taking criticism for his error that led to Dayro Moreno's goal, but the goalkeeper is called upon to take risks in Tuca Ferretti's system. Tijuana wasn't lucky to beat Tigres. Xolos took advantage of the Argentine goalkeeper's error and the fact that they played against 10 men in the second half thanks to Rafael Sobis earning a red card. But Tigres will generally be playing at full strength, and Guzman generally is one of the league's best shot stoppers.
Oh, they also have Andre-Pierre Gignac, whose long-range goal takes him to six on the season. For a few moments, it seemed that Tigres would at least earn a draw if only through the sheer will of the French forward. That didn't happen, but no player in the league changes matches like he does.
¡Revive el golazo de Andre-Pierre Gignac! https://t.co/DKg6g9y8DN
— Univision Deportes (@UnivisionSports) February 14, 2016
A week after Omar Gonzalez scored a late goal to keep Pachuca undefeated, Tuzos again found themselves on the wrong side of the scoreline heading into the break. Puebla looked very eager to redeem itself after being eliminated from the Copa Libertadores last week. The visitors scored in the 14th and 17th minutes, but Pachuca didn't panic, and eventually its superiority in talent paid off. Then it did so again. And again. And again. And again until the final whistle blew and fans went out to celebrate a 5-2 victory. You couldn't blame them if they forgot their team was ever behind at all, much less by two goals.
Pachuca is a young team (43-year-old goalkeeper Oscar Perez being the notable exception), with 20-year-olds Hirving Lozano and Erick Gutierrez and Rodolfo Pizarro, who turns 22 Monday, among the team's mainstays. Manager Diego Alonso is just 40. And yet the team has proven already this season that it's not going to go away easily. That this week's rambunctious rally and last week's comeback seem almost rote for Pachuca, providing more reason to believe the team is a legitimate title contender this season.
CHIVAS HAVE REAL SCORING ISSUES
There's still time to salvage things, but the Clausura looks like it could be an utter disaster for Chivas. They're yet to win a match this tournament and the attack looks to be totally out of ideas. During the offseason, the team brought in Orbelin Pineda and Carlos "Gullit" Pena but didn't find a forward to pair with veteran Omar Bravo. Bravo, the club's all-time leading scorer, is in a drought. He hasn't scored in the league since November, and so far this tournament Chivas have scored fewer goals than all but two teams.
Pineda and Pena started well, but things haven't been as good lately with Pena in particular struggling to slot into his role. He was taken off at halftime by manager Matias Almeyda as Chivas fell to his former club Leon, 1-0. Leon wasn't particularly impressive, but Mauro Boselli punished a miscommunication between a Chivas defender and goalkeeper Jose Antonio Rodriguez to send the visitors home with the win. There are a lot of issues with Chivas' attack and not a lot of apparent solutions. It will be a big challenge for Almeyda to get his team scoring goals and winning matches.
VERACRUZ STILL BEATING ITSELF AS STREAK CONTINUES
No team has seen more red cards this season than Veracruz, and the Tiburones Rojos finished with 10 men for the third time in the six matches they've played this season. Argentine midfielder Gabriel Penalba got his marching orders for the second time this year. A physical presence, he adds a lot to the midfield — but obviously not if he isn't on the pitch because of a sending off or a suspension. The lack of discipline and the fact that Veracruz still hasn't won a match in the Clausura is no coincidence.
After America scored the opener, Veracruz had the momentum. Edgar Andrade equalized and the fans at the Estadio Luis "Pirata" Fuente were behind their team. Penalba's tackle on Osmar Mares killed that.
⚽ | #UDLigaMX: Tarjeta roja para Gabriel Peñalba al 67' y @ClubTiburones se queda con 10 jugadores. pic.twitter.com/RzhuE2ON7S
— Univision Deportes (@UnivisionSports) February 13, 2016
The season started on a sour note with the club's owner getting suspended for his own act of indiscipline in the first home match. Manager Carlos Reinoso has plenty of experience and has had Veracruz playing much better soccer than it had in previous tournaments. This season, though, it's been pretty dire. And it's not getting any easier. Veracruz heads away to top side Monterrey, hosts Pumas and travels to face Puebla in the next three weeks. The club will be the underdog in each of those contests.
CRUZ AZUL COULD HAVE LIFE
It would be easy to put too much importance on Cruz Azul's 2-1 win over Queretaro on Saturday. The Gallos Blancos haven't really gotten off the ground this season with an inconsistent start to the tournament. On the first goal, Joffre Guerron was left totally alone and had a simple time heading in the opening goal. The second came from an error that Matias Vuoso was able to take advantage of, then set up Joao Rojas.
But it's more about just the one match. The capital club has struggled mightily in previous tournaments. This likely won't be the campaign that sees Cruz Azul lift the trophy drought the team has been in. As the club approaches 20 years without a title, there is reason to believe it could make it into the playoffs. Saturday's win was the third week in a row the club has avoided defeat. After a tough Apertura, Jesus Corona has recovered his form. New addition Victor Vazquez is still finding his feet but should make a difference. Marc Crosas is closer and closer to a return from injury. And Guerron's account is now open. One of Mexico's grandes is taking the first step toward becoming great again.
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