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Monterrey and Queretaro will open the Clausura phase of the Liga MX on Sunday with a fixture from the Estadio BBVA Bancomer. Monterrey were only middling in the Apertura phase of the Liga MX, finishing ninth in the table with 22 points in 17 games.
Queretaro were left languishing in the penultimate spot of the table after failing to pick up much momentum at any point through the season, which culminated with just 15 points in 17 matches.
Monterrey will, therefore, begin this game as slight favorites considering they have a bit more experience and skill through the phases of the soccer pitch.
Rogelio Funes Mori will be a vital cog in the final third for Monterrey this season considering he has had plenty of experience in the league already. In the 2021-22 season, Funes Mori managed to score nine goals, most for Monterrey.
Manager Javier Aguirre will be desperate to see some of his stars come to life this season after a poor showing in the Apertura. There is enough on both ends of the pitch to suggest that Monterrey will not be far from the top of the table if they can somehow find a way to find close to their best rhythm and confidence.
In the Apertura, Monterrey scored 19 goals and conceded 16. While that was not bad, it still showed a distinct lack of ability to close out tight games. Monterrey drew seven games, far too many, which eventually cost them.
Monterrey will also need to find some form quickly after a poor end to the previous season. In the regular season, Monterrey lost three and drew two of their final five matches. That subpar run of form will have a bearing on this squad if they can’t find early momentum.
The Liga MX is slightly different without a relegation zone for at least this season as well. That means teams finishing in the bottom three will have to dish out fines if they are in the zone in which they stay in the last three spots over the extrapolated duration of three years.
Queretaro are not a team that will be challenging for the top, which means they will have to find their best form early in the season to prevent other factors coming into play, such as injuries and a lack of rhythm, especially in the final third.
Queretaro scored just 11 goals in Apertura, comfortably the fewest in the Liga MX in that phase of the season. That is simply not good enough even though their defense is not conceding too many goals. From a form standpoint, they lost their last three matches of Apertura, which will mean there will be some early desperation to put that behind quickly.
Cruz Azul will be fancying their chances of starting the new season and new year with a comfortable win against a team struggling for form in Club Tijuana, who are favorites to finish in the bottom three this season.
Cruz Azul have been in topsy-turvy form for a while now, including finishing eighth in the Apertura last year, with 23 points in 17 matches.
That is still significantly better than the form exhibited by Club Tijuana, who could only manage to collect 15 points in 17 matches in Apertura. That left them dead last in the standings last year, which will be a position they would not want to repeat.
Jonathan Rodriguez scored nine goals in 15 matches in the 2021-22 season, highest for Cruz Azul. That was crucial to the success for Cruz Azul because it helped the team a long way in producing 21 goals in Apertura.
Cruz Azul were able to concede just 17 goals in Apertura, which gave them a handy goal difference of +4 in their games. That was good enough to ensure they at least stayed in the top half of the table.
However, their performances in Apertura were a long way off from a largely successful 2020-21 season, in which they finished at the top of the regular season standings in Clausura and a fourth-place finish in the Apertura phase of that season. There is certainly work to be done for the team ahead of this Clausura season in order to not just improve, but also sustain that improvement through the course of 17 matches.
It will be a hard task but Club Tijuana will be desperate to improve on their performance last season. While they managed to score 16 goals, not a terrible tally, Club Tijuana conceded 27 goals in 17 matches.
That was far too many considering the Liga MX is a slower league as compared to others in the professional circuit. No other team conceded more than Club Tijuana in Apertura of 2021-22, which will leave them with plenty of work to be done.
This is a quick turnaround between Apertura and Clausura, which may not be enough to make fundamental changes but there is still enough time to make subtle improvements in order to avoid finishing in the bottom three.
Club Tijuana also had a negative goal difference of -11 in Apertura, the joint-worst along with Juarez. If they are to have any chance in Clausura, it is imperative that the goal difference is much closer to neutral than was the case in Apertura.
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|Teams||Monterrey vs Queretaro, Cruz Azul vs Club Tijuana|
|Location||Estadio BBVA Bancomer|
|Time||Saturday, January 8 at 8.00 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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