Necaxa hires Andrés Lillini; Chivas planning roster moves

Marco Fabián could be back in a Chivas kit seven years after leaving Liga MX for the Bundesliga. (Photo by Refugio Ruiz/LatinContent via Getty Images)
Marco Fabián could be back in a Chivas kit seven years after leaving Liga MX for the Bundesliga. (Photo by Refugio Ruiz/LatinContent via Getty Images) /
Liga MX Lillini, Chivas
Andrés Lillini wasn’t on the unemployment line for long. The former Pumas coach will now be in charge of Liga MX minnows Necaxa. (Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images) /

With the World Cup just two weeks away and El Tri in Spain preparing for the first of two friendlies, the spotlight has understandably shifted away from Liga MX. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing worth discussing back in Mexico.

The lone remaining coaching vacancy was filled after Necaxa hired Andrés Lillini last week. The Argentine manager was fired by UNAM last month, a day after the Pumas completed the Apertura 2022 in 16th place.

Lillini took “los felinos” to the Liga MX Final his first season in charge at the CU (Apertura 2020) and guided the Pumas to the semifinals as the No. 11 seed a year later (losing to eventual Liga MX champs Atlas).

His reputation as a teacher and his ability to develop youngsters appealed to Rayos ownership and the 48-year-old Argentine will move to Aguascalientes for the Clausura 2023.

Liga MX Hot Stove rumors

Over the weekend, one popular story had Marco Fabián preparing to return to the Chivas after seven years.

New Guadalajara GM Fernando Hierro is said to believe that the playmaking midfielder’s experience in Europe could prove beneficial to the Chivas’ locker room. Fabián left Guadalajara for Bundesliga club Eintracht Frankfurt in December 2015, enjoying considerable success before injuries cut short his European adventure.

The Guadalajara native returned to Liga MX in August 2020 (FC Juárez) and spent last season with Mazatlán FC but is on record saying he would love to retire with the team of his boyhood.

The Chivas are also said to be wooing Liga MX champion Víctor Guzmán … again. “Pocho” came up through the Guadalajara youth system but was never given a debut and then was sold off to Pachuca just after turning 20.

A year later, Guzmán scored the winning goal for the Tuzos in the Clausura 2016 Final. In September 2018, “Pocho” made his national team debut, making six appearances with El Tri over the next two years. He looked to be on track to be a key contributor to Mexico’s 2024 World Cup qualifying campaign.

Shortly after taking over as Chivas GM in December 2019, Ricardo Peláez made a deal to purchase Guzmán’s contract from Pachuca but the transaction was voided after the midfielder tested positive for a banned substance.

The transgression also derailed his national team career before he ever earned a cap in an official game. Guzmán last appeared with El Tri in March 2019.

“Pocho” – a Guadalajara native – served a nine-month suspension before returning to the Pachuca squad, gradually earning his way back into the club’s good graces. Guzmán starred with the No. 1-seeded Tuzos in the Clausura 2022 season (6 goals, 7 assists) but the club came up short in the Liga MX Final, losing to Atlas.

Guzmán suffered through a difficult Apertura 2022 (0 goals, 1 assist), but came alive in the playoffs (2 goals, 3 assists), earning his second Liga MX title with the Tuzos.

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At 27, the Chivas have every reason to believe that “Pocho” has several productive seasons ahead of him and he has made it clear he would love to return to “El Rebaño Sagrado.”