Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Mexico: Champions Four lead the way in Apertura (+video)

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on September 27, 2010
Cruz Azul v Monterrey

Cruz Azul (light blue shirts) and Monterrey have the best records in the Apertura after nine games

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:

CONCACAF: Mexican quartet light up Champions League

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on March 30, 2010
CONCACAF Champions League logo

The logo for the CONCACAF Champions League

The CONCACAF Champions League, North and Central America’s footballing showpiece, has reached the last four stage and it’s an all-Mexican affair with the country’s domination of football in the region guaranteed to continue. The first legs of each tie are played on March 30-31 with the second legs being played one week later. “Stoppage Time – International Football Blog” highlights each pairing’s current form:

TOLUCA v PACHUCA

Both of these teams had tough ties to qualify from in the last round. Toluca defeated Guatemalans C.S.D. Comunicaciones by the odd goal in five over two legs whilst Toluca were further challenged by 2008 Major League Soccer champions Columbus Crew, finally edging past the Americans 5-4 on aggregate. Perhaps the hectic schedule has provided a major distraction for these teams as they are far from sure of a place in the play-offs of the current Mexican League. Toluca, who are at home in the first leg of the semi-finals, are third in Group 1 and find themselves eleven points behind leaders Guadalajara but their recent form is good having won the last two Mexican League games since defeating Comunicaciones; a 3-2 win over Real San Luis followed by a 1-0 triumph over Tigres. Pachuca are also finding it difficult to qualify for the Mexican League play-offs as they find themselves ten points behind group leaders Monterrey in fourth place in Group 2. At least their recent league form is decent having secured four points out of the last six against Club América (2:2) and C.A. Monarcas Morelia (1:0).

1st Leg: Toluca v Pachuca (30/03/10)

2nd Leg: Pachuca v Toluca (07/04/10)

PUMAS UNAM v CRUZ AZUL

Cruz Azul are the record champions in the tournament’s previous guise of the CONCACAF Champions Cup having won it five times. However the last of these triumphs came in 1997 and they are desperate to bring home the trophy after thirteen long years. Los Cementeros secured their semi-final place with a 4-0 aggregate win over Panama’s Arabe Unido and will hope to emulate the result achieved against Pumas UNAM in last season’s CONCACAF Champions League quarter-finals which Cruz Azul won 2-0 over two legs. The Pumas are in the final four thanks to their 6-3 win over Hondurans C.D. Marathón and will hope to be the better of Cruz Azul this time around. In their last two Mexican League games since ensuring Champions League semi-final qualification Pumas have beaten Jaguares (2:0) and drawn with Real San Luis (0:0) whilst Cruz Azul have beaten Tigres (4:0) but lost to Estudiantes Tecos (1:2) in their most recent league game. In Group 3 of the Mexican championship the Pumas are in second spot three points behind Santos Laguna and one ahead of Cruz Azul so perhaps that’s a slight psychological advantage for Pumas going into this continental joust.

1st Leg: Pumas UNAM v Cruz Azul (31/03/10)

2nd Leg: Cruz Azul v Pumas UNAM (06/04/10)