Mexico: Champions Four lead the way in Apertura (+video)
Nine matches into Mexico’s 19 game Torneo Apertura regular season and it is the quartet of teams who are currently gracing the CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) who have the best records amongst all of the teams in their domestic top flight. Stoppage Time – International Football Blog reviews the latest developments.
For those unfamiliar with the make-up of Mexico’s domestic league the championship is split into two halves: Torneo Apertura (Opening Championship) and Torneo Clausura (Closing Championship). In each championship eighteen teams are split into three groups of six and every team plays each other once during the regular season. The eight teams with the best records then begin the knockout phase to decide the winner of that particular championship. At the moment the Apertura has effectively reached the halfway stage and the four teams with the best records are currently those same four involved in North and Central America’s elite club competition, reviews of which you can read about on Stoppage Time throughout the season.
Two of the CONCACAF representatives top the standings in Group 1 where Monterrey (the only team with a 100% record in the CCL) and Santos Laguna have been fighting for the leadership over the weekend. Monterrey were top going into Matchday 9 but were held to a goalless draw away at Querétaro which allowed Santos Laguna the opportunity to go to Club América and reclaim the leadership. Alas they were defeated in an exciting game by the odd goal in five as goals from Christian Benítez and Fernando Arce were not enough for Santos as they lost 3-2 with all of the goals coming in the first half. In the group standings Monterrey have 19 points from 9 games but Santos are a point behind with a game in hand.
Group 2 sees Toluca hold a narrow one point lead following their weekend victory 2-1 away at Monarcas Morelia. All of the goals came in the second half with Hugo Droguett’s 54th minute goal for the home side being sandwiched by strikes from Toluca’s Héctor Mancilla (51 mins) and Néstor Calderón (67 mins) which allowed the visitors to come away with the three points. Real San Luis had the chance to go above Toluca prematurely on Saturday night but missed out after they succumbed to a 2-1 defeat away at Jaguares. Both teams went in at the break tied at 1-1 and it was a goal from Jaguares’ Carlos Ochoa midway through the second half which proved decisive. Club América, following their Sunday victory against Santos, now lie second in the group.
The team with the best record at this stage is Cruz Azul. The 2009 CCL finalists have a nine point advantage over Jaguares at the top of Group 3, this despite going down to a 2-1 defeat on Saturday away at Necaxa. Christian Giménez’s 66th minute penalty halved the deficit for Cruz Azul after Darío Gandín (13 minutes) and Nicolás Pavlovich (36 mins) had given the home side a healthy two goal cushion at half time. Unfortunately Cruz Azul were unable to find an equalizer but that shouldn’t deter the team from finding their way into the play-offs as they currently hold a 7-0-2 record after nine games and are well on course in both domestic and international competition, just like their fellow group table-toppers.
WATCH NECAXA v CRUZ AZUL GOALS HERE: