Liga MX: Apertura 2021 proving to be very unpredictable

The 153rd regular season "Clásico Tapatío" headlines Saturdya's Liga MX schedule. (Photo by Refugio Ruiz/Getty Images)
The 153rd regular season "Clásico Tapatío" headlines Saturdya's Liga MX schedule. (Photo by Refugio Ruiz/Getty Images) /
Liga MX unprdictable
The Pumas visit América on Sunday in the latest installment of the Mexico City Classic. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images) /

Liga MX handicappers must be pulling their hair out, but there’s no time for wailing and lamentations. Matchday 11 is behind us (except for two postponed contests) and Matchday 12 kicks off with a Friday doubleheader.

It appears as though it is time to embrace that old NFL cliché, or at least paraphrase it: “On any given Matchday …”

América is on a three-game winless streak after threatening to run away with the Apertura 2021 and Atlas – the same day we lavished the Zorros with praise for being a legitimate dark-horse contender for the Liga MX title – turned in a stinker, losing at home to 10-man Puebla.

Pre-season title favorites Cruz Azul (the defending champs) and León appear more likely to enter the Liga MX playoffs via a wildcard berth, neither consistently flashing the form they are capable of displaying.

Toluca handed América its first loss of the season on Matchday 9, then proceeded to forget how to score, getting blanked by Monterrey then managing only a penalty conversion while losing at home to Atlético de San Luis.

Key Liga MX derbies highlight Matchday 12

The “Clásico Tapatío” Saturday night in Guadalajara’s Estadio Akron is critical for Atlas and the Chivas. The Zorros need to win, not only to put a stop to the Chivas’ six-game win streak in the Guadalajara derby, but to stamp their arrival as a legitimate title contender.

Atlas is fourth in the Liga MX table but is coming off a rather stunning home loss to lowly Puebla. The Chivas, meanwhile, lost to last-place Querétaro and have now failed to score in two games under new coach Marcelo Michel Leaño. If form holds (something we’ve learned NOT to expect in the Apertura 2021), Guadalajara’s scoring struggles won’t be resolved against the No. 1 defense in Liga MX. Atlas has conceded just 5 goals in 11 matches.

In Mexico City, the “Clasico Capitalino” could take place in a sold-out Estadio Azteca as city authorities are expected to grant América’s petition to completely open up “El Coloso de Santa Úrsula” for the first time since pandemic restrictions were imposed back in March 2020.

There were 65,000 fans at the Azteca last Saturday for the “Super Clásico” (a 0-0 yawner, except for the eye-gouging incident) but the Capital Classic typically attracts a rowdier crowd. And with the Pumas in a calendar-long slump, expect their fans to be a little restless. Then again, the way this season is playing out, should we expect a victory for UNAM?

Which Tigres team will show up?

The honeymoon between Tigres fans and Miguel Herrera seemed to be in the rear-view mirror as the northern giants headed into San Luis to face the upset-minded Tuneros on Wednesday afternoon. Modest Atlético de San Luis was in fifth place, three spots ahead of the Tigres and Herrera’s squad was missing four top offensive players due to injury.

So what happens? “Los Felinos” explode for 3 goals and blank the No. 3 offense in Liga MX, leapfrogging the Tuneros in the process. Suddenly, all is hunky-dory up with the Tigres.

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Up next for Herrera and his fired-up Cats is Necaxa, a hot-and-cold team that will be debuting a new coach – former Morelia and Tijuana manager Pablo Guede. The Rayos just ended a four-game losing streak with a 3-0 trouncing of the Xolos, so they’ll win a few more before slumping again, right? Well, we’ll have to wait and see what happens on Sunday.