Puebla-Monterrey kicks off fascinating Matchday 6 schedule

Monterrey's Alfonso Gonzalez (left) and Maximiliano Araujo (right) of Puebla will see a lot of each other at Estadio Cuauhtémoc on Friday night. (Photo by JULIO CESAR AGUILAR/AFP via Getty Images)
Monterrey's Alfonso Gonzalez (left) and Maximiliano Araujo (right) of Puebla will see a lot of each other at Estadio Cuauhtémoc on Friday night. (Photo by JULIO CESAR AGUILAR/AFP via Getty Images) /
Liga MX M6 preview
Atlas fullback Luis Reyes (left) and the Zorros survived a tough challenge from the Pumas en route to the Liga MX title last season. They meet again on Sunday. (Photo by ULISES RUIZ/AFP via Getty Images) /

The Liga MX season hits the one-third mark this weekend and Matchday 6 offers up several tantalizing contests.

The best game on the calendar is the first one as league-leading Puebla welcomes Monterrey to Estadio Cuauhtémoc on Friday night. The host Camoteros can make a huge statement by defeating the Rayados, the team that boasts the biggest payroll in Liga MX.

Monterrey and coach Javier Aguirre have been getting an earful from fans and ownership alike thanks to a slow start to the league season and a blundering performance at the FIFA Club World Cup.

Puebla boasts the best defense in Liga MX (3 goals in five games), while the Rayados have two games in hand thanks to their artless visit to the United Arab Emirates. Coach Aguirre is under the gun as ownership has told him he must deliver hardware or be gone.

‘Relegation Zone’ clash

Also Friday, Necaxa visits Tijuana in a battle to escape financial penalties for finishing in the “Relegation Zone.”

Tijuana sits in last place in the these “Demotion Standings” (the final three must pay a fine to remain in First Division) while Necaxa sits just above the penalized spots hoping that a coaching change will improve its fortunes.

New coach Jaime Lozano will focus on developing the Rayos’ youngsters while improving the club’s leaky defense (11 goals allowed in five games). The Xolos are desperate for points and will hope to reprise their performance in their last home game, a 1-0 victory over UNAM.

Welcome back to Liga MX, J.J.!

In a surprise move, the Chivas included prodigal son J.J. Macías in their traveling squad as they prepare to take on León. Macías – back with Guadalajara after his loan deal with Spain’s Getafe was rescinded early – was not expected back in uniform until next month as he was said to be dealing with injury.

The Chivas are desperate for offense but there will be questions about Macías as he was reluctant to return to Guadalajara and he did not leave for Europe on good terms, with reports that several teammates were happy to see the disgruntled forward depart.

León will not concern themselves with Guadalajara’s locker room issues as last season’s finalist is not accustomed to being in the bottom half of the Liga MX table. The Esmeraldas have struggled to score (5 goals in five games) and they’d like nothing better than to add to the Chivas’ woes.

Semifinals rematch on tap Sunday

Holders Atlas hosts the Pumas, the team that handed the Zorros their last loss at Estadio Jalisco. The 1-0 UNAM victory came in the return leg of the Apertura 2021 semifinals but it was not enough to offset Atlas’ 1-0 victory at the CU in Mexico City in the first leg.

Atlas went on to hoist the trophy and end its 70-year Liga MX title drought, while the Pumas had to be content with a fantastic stretch run that culminated in a stunning upset win over No. 1 seed América in the quarterfinals.

Both teams have picked up where they left off in the playoffs with Atlas even with Puebla on points (11) while UNAM – in 6th place with 9 points – has developed into a dangerous attacking team. This game should be a study in contrasts the Zorros are once again the stingiest defense in Liga MX (3 goals allowed) while the Pumas boast the highest-scoring offense in the league (11 goals scored).

The remainder of the Liga MX weekend is as follows:

Santos travels to Cd. Juárez to take on the Bravos on Friday night while Querétaro hosts Mazatlán FC and the Tigres welcome Atlético de San Luis on Saturday.

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Sunday’s schedule features a desperate América side taking on Pachuca in Estadio Azteca while third-place Cruz Azul visits seventh-place Toluca.