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Guadalajara have started the new Clausura phase of the tournament with one win and one defeat in their first two matches. They began with a comfortable 3-0 cruise past Mazatlan before suffering a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Pachuca on the road in their next match.
Queretaro, on the other hand, are still without a win after two matches. They have lost one and drawn the other as they are currently sitting at 13th position in the Liga MX table, and with plenty of work to be done to salvage the remains of this season.
Based on form, Guadalajara seem to be the team to beat. Their odds are favorable because of some recent fluency, and there were bright, promising signs in their win against Mazatlan in the opening match of the season. That will leave them inspired and confident for the next few games.
Angel Zaldivar has begun the new season with two goals in two games. Guadalajara will need him to step up and continue to score goals if he gets the opportunity because he has the skill and ability to remain consistent, a trait that has been missing in the Liga MX for a while now. Guadalajara are a middling team, but will need him to step out of that image.
Guadalajara went 2-0 down in the first half on the road to Pachuca in their previous match but came storming back with a goal from Zaldivar from the penalty spot in the 53rd minute. However, they could only muster two shots on target on the whole out of 11 attempts.
Guadalajara, in fact, had the majority of the possession with 60 percent but were still lacking some depth and penetration in the final third. They completed 467 passes at an accuracy rate of 77 percent. Those are solid metrics but they need a few more quality shots on target.
Over 180 minutes of soccer, Queretaro have managed just one goal. That is one of the reasons this team continues to struggle to find much, in terms of consistency and depth. After a goalless draw against Monterrey to begin the season, Queretaro suffered a 3-1 defeat at home to Pumas UNAM.
That has left Queretaro in a precarious position, which is currently 13th in the Liga MX standings. Queretaro had plenty of muscle in the final third, with 28 goal attempts. However, their conversion rate was poor, with just three of those on target.
It was a slow game, with not many completed passes. In total, Queretaro managed to complete just 258 passes at an accuracy rate of 76 percent. In terms of possession, they were dominated by Pumas UNAM as Queretaro could manage only 43 percent of the ball.
This is an interesting matchup because Leon are one of the better teams in the Liga MX but have not quite lit up after their deep run into the postseason in the Apertura phase. They have started the Clausura with two draws in their first two matches.
Pachuca, on the other hand, have been in terrific early form, having won their first two matches. They are currently positioned second in the Liga MX standings with a goal difference of +3 after scoring four and conceding just one goal so far this season.
Leon and Pachuca have about even odds, but the law of averages may just catch up with Pachuca as this season progresses starting with this game. Leon, at home, may just find a scrappy goal and defend that with all their might to take away all three points.
Leon have started with two straight draws, including a 1-1 result against Club Tijuana in their previous game on the road. After Victor Davila scored in their previous match in the 23rd minute, they were unable to hold that lead against Club Tijuana.
It was not a fantastic performance as they managed to get just seven attempts on goal, of which three were on target. They had 17 fouls and received three yellow cards in an undisciplined performance. They managed to retain 48 percent of their possession, though, which was not a bad metric.
Let us look at their passing accuracy because if they can maintain their high standards from the Apertura, then there is a chance they could rapidly climb the table. They completed 395 passes at an accuracy rate of 79 percent, which is not too bad, but still room to improve.
Pachuca have started the new season with aplomb. They first beat San Luis 2-0 on the road before registering a solid 2-1 win against Guadalajara in their previous game to make it two wins from two to start the new season.
In both those games, Pachuca scored two goals apiece, which makes them one of the teams to watch for from an offensive standpoint because there are promising signs in the final third for the team. Pachuca took an early 2-0 lead in their previous match, and even though they conceded in the second half, they had enough to maintain that lead.
Pachuca had 15 shot attempts in that game. They had six of those on target, which was not a bad conversion rate. The team had just 40 percent of the possession, which is an indicator that this team knows how to close out tight games by staying compact defensively. They did, however, struggle with passing accuracy with a total successful pass completion rate of just 69 percent.
Club America have played just one match this season, and have drawn that game. Therefore, there is not a large enough sample size of data to analyze how the team has reacted to different situations. Hence, we shall reserve judgement for a few more games.
Atlas have picked up four points from two matches. They started their season a tad late on account of having played the final of Apertura late in December, which meant lesser time to rest and recover. They have started the new season in typically solid fashion.
These are two solid teams, capable of staying steady defensively and even transition quickly across the phases. However, when two such teams meet, it often results in them cancelling each other out. As a result, backing the draw might not be the worst option.
In Club America’s first match of the Clausura, they were put through the rigours of soccer. Salvador Chavez scored in the first minute but a red card to Roger Martinez in the 36th minute meant that they were always going to play catch up thereafter. As you would expect, Puebla equalized the scoring.
Impressively, Club America did not relent in the second half despite being a man short for a whole half of soccer. They struggled for possession, with just 31 percent of the ball. They had eight goal attempts, with just three of those on target as well.
Club America will need to improve their discipline for sure. Apart from the obvious factor of not going in too strongly in tackles, they need a better accuracy rate in their passes, which is currently just 63 percent after a poor first match. They completed just 235 passes in that game as well, which is well below the usual standard for a top tier soccer league.
Atlas will be incredibly difficult to break down, at least defensively. They have started the season with a 1-0 win against San Luis before a 1-1 draw against Leon in a repeat of the Apertura finals not too long ago. That means they have picked up a vital four points already.
In their previous match, a 1-1 draw against Leon, they had eight shots on goal, with three of those being on target. They also had a ball possession rate of 59 percent, which is another indicator of their strength in maintaining the ball and keeping the opposition hunting.
In terms of passing accuracy, they completed 80 percent of their passes, far above the rest of the Liga MX in terms of a percentage. They completed 401 passes. These are all reliable metrics to suggest that this team will be incredibly strong on both ends of the soccer pitch. As a result, it makes sense to back neither of these teams to lose this one by the end.
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Two of the better teams will face each other in the final match of the Liga MX on Saturday. Monterrey started the season with a goalless draw against Queretaro but came back to win their next match. They have picked up four points in two matches so far.
Cruz Azul have been even better than that with two wins in two matches. As a result, they have moved quickly to third on the Liga MX table. They are one of only three teams to have won both of their first two matches.
Both these teams have enough strength and confidence on both ends of the pitch. Monterrey have already proved to be hard to break down in a defensive phase. Cruz Azul are also on the road in this match, which could mean that the best bet for this particular matchup is one for the draw. There is also a higher pay out there, making that bet an even more compelling choice.
Monterrey have not conceded a goal yet after 180 minutes of soccer in the Liga MX. They started with a 0-0 draw against Queretaro before heading to Nexaca and beating them 4-0 for an inspirational win. That stoic defense could be one of the reasons for their success.
Four different players scored in that 4-0 win against Nexaca. It is even more impressive because the score line does not indicate that Monterrey had any issues in that result. They had just 37 percent of the possession as Nexaca came back storming towards them.
Monterrey had a high passing accuracy rate, completing 81 percent of their passes. In total, they completed 287 passes. That is not a high pass tally but that is enough to ensure that they can move and transition quickly through the phases of a soccer pitch.
Like Monterrey, even Cruz Azul have not conceded a goal. They have been even better because they have won both of their matches while Monterrey have dropped points. Cruz Azul first beat Club Tijuana 2-0 before also beating Juarez 1-0 in their next match.
Carlos Rodriguez scored in the fifth minute in the previous match and Juarez were left to catch up from the outset. While Cruz Azul had 12 shots, only three of those were on target, an indicator that this team is not too bad in the final third either.
Cruz Azul could still improve on their overall passing efficiency. In their previous match, they completed 76 percent of their passes, and successfully completed 376 passes. These are not bad but there is room for improvement. If they can improve on some of these numbers, then this Cruz Azul team could be one to watch for the rest of the season.
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|Liga MX Information|
|Teams||Guadalajara vs Queretaro, Leon vs Pachuca, Club America vs Atlas|
|Time||Saturday, January 22 at 6.00 PM EST onwards|
|How to watch||Univision networks TUDN and UniMas, ESPN Deportes, Telemundo and Fox Deportes|
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With an interest in strategy and mathematics, applying that to sports writing was the natural progression. A writer at night and the founder of a gaming company, Nikhil’s previous experience includes working with ESPN for five years. His specialization includes soccer, basketball, tennis, and esports betting. Email: [email protected]More info on Nikhil Kalro
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