After Mexican national teams took the spotlight by winning the Copa America and the Under-17s World Cup, it is back to domestic action as the Apertura 2011 gets underway this evening.
It promises to be an intriguing season. What effect will 10 million-dollar man Christian Benítez have on a Club América side desperate for a trophy? What will be the role of the plucky U-17 World Champions who stole headlines all summer? How will unknown quantities Puebla, Tijuana and Estudiantes Tecos fair? Can Adolfo “Bofo” Bautista find the back of the net? Then there is Guadalajara Chivas, floating precariously between genius and disaster.
One thing is for certain: it promises to be a rollercoaster ride and should be much easier to follow for the neutral now that the top eight teams in the general table automatically qualify for the playoffs.
Here are some brief predictions. All opinions are my own. Please throw in your two-pesos worth in the comments section.
A strong line-up from last season´s top finishers in the general table. Potential champions.
The CONCACAF Champions League winners are the best team in Mexico and can now rely on César Delgado too. Favourites.
Wise-signings such as Elias Hernández should see Pachuca in the playoff mix.
The loss of Christian Benítez would hurt any side and although Santos are no mugs without him, they can expect to be in the mid-table dogfight.
Mexico´s nearly team should, once again, be right in the mix this season. Whether the club can lift some silverware is another matter altogether.
At the start of a rebuilding process. Can´t see anything special from Mexico´s Red Devils.
With a disrupted preseason due to players being all over the world with various national teams, the start is vital for Chivas. Start the season without main striker Erick “Cubo” Torres, who is at the U-20s World Cup. Mid-table.
Will be difficult for the Cancun-based team. “El Hobbit” Bermúdez stayed at the club although it´s difficult to see them doing much this Apertura 2011.
Personally can´t wait to see what América do. Coach Reinoso is known for his attacking mentality and with Christian Benítez now at the club, they promise exciting football. Just don´t mention that leaky defence … Playoff prospects.
Hard to see the team reach the final like in the Clausura 2011, especially with the loss of the dangerous Elias Hernández. Still should be in the playoff hunt with Tomás Boy steering the ship.
The dark horse following 18 new signings. Luis García and DaMarcus Beasley could set the league alight. If Sergio Bueno can get the team playing, the playoffs beckon.
Rúben Omar Romano is a top manager but as long as Atlas sell their best youngsters (Edgar Pacheco, Darvín Chávez) and buy in sub-standard foreigners, they won´t do anything in a strong Primera División.
Shrewd signings from coach Chelís in the offseason. A team looking to move away from relegation with a vastly experienced squad following a poor showing in the Clausura. Mid-table.
Reigning champions Pumas have lost experienced duo Leandro and Israel Castro. Playoffs. Another final is unlikely.
New strikers brought in but unlikely to make a serious impact.
Favourites for the drop. Bottom place.
Strong preseason and, while not having the attacking flair of other teams, will be difficult to beat. Another team that could surprise.
An unknown quantity. Leandro Augusto, Colombian striker Dayro Moreno and Jose Sand are proven performers. Mid-table.