Matchday 11 is upon us and Liga MX fans will find two potential Finals previews on the weekend docket.
At the other end of the spectrum, three coaches could be facing win-or-clear-out-your-locker tests.
One of the coaches at tether’s end is Atlético de San Luis manager André Jardine and his Tuneros host one of the three teams below them on the Liga MX table – Querétaro. If the Gallos Blancos end their 51-game road winless streak at Jardine’s expense, the Brazilian is likely good as gone.
Also Friday night, third-place Guadalajara visits Puebla in a potential trap game. The high-flying Chivas host the Super Clásico a week from Saturday and coach Veljko Paunovic will urge his team to focus on the task at hand.
Liga MX leaders vs Liga MX champs
Coming off a listless performance in Honduras Thursday night, holders Pachuca welcome first-place Monterrey to Estadio Hidalgo.
The Rayados top the Liga MX table with 25 points thanks to a nine-game unbeaten streak. They’ll be looking to avenge the 6-2 rout suffered at the hands of Pachuca in last season’s semifinals.
The Tuzos fell off the pace a bit after losing two straight, but went gangbusters against América at Estadio Azteca last weekend.
Monterrey should have the advantage because Tuzos coach Guillermo Almada gave his starters big minutes against Motagua in the Concacaf Champions League match.
In the weekend’s other “Finals preview,” second-place Tigres host an América side coming off a shellacking that cost the Aguilas the status as last Liga MX team without a loss.
Both squads have their big Clásico match looming on the horizon (América at Guadalajara while Tigres host Monterrey next Saturday), but Tigres-Aguilas clashes have become must-see affairs. This one should be no different and visiting América knows it must bounce back from the beating it took from Pachuca.
Mexico City face-off
UNAM and Cruz Azul will tangle in Estadio Azteca Saturday night with their seasons on the line.
The visiting Pumas know that their coach’s job is on the line. Rafael Puente, Jr, has been told that he must win or go. UNAM management delivered the ultimatum after the club’s embarrassing 4-2 loss to Puebla last week.
New Cementeros coach Ricardo Ferretti – in only his third game in charge – must figure out which players on his roster want to be with the team next season. The way the team played last week in losing to previously winless Mazatlán, “Tuca” can probably count those players on one hand.
Elsewhere around Liga MX
None of the four other Matchday 11 contests are particularly attractive though León has a chance to assert itself into the race for a first-round playoff bye.
The Esmeraldas are 4 points behind fourth-place Pachuca with a game-in-hand and they visit a rapidly declining Atlas team coming off a 4-1 battering in Honduras.
Toluca is still licking its wounds from the shock of losing at Querétaro last week, a stunner that ended a four-game win streak. The Diablos Rojos should be able to restore their pride against last-place Mazatlán FC on Sunday.
Santos Laguna coach Eduardo Fentanes has a pink slip hanging over his head as his Guerreros have gone 1-1-2 in their last four while conceding 10 goals.
“Los Laguneros” host a resurgent Tijuana club that finds itself in position to claim a wildcard spot. As the Xolos arrive to Estadio Corona as one of the worst Liga MX offenses, Fentanes knows another poor defensive showing could send him to the unemployment line.
In the final game of the weekend, FC Juárez hosts a sinking Necaxa 11 that is desperate to stay above the Relegation Zone. While the Bravos have been a pleasant surprise this season, Necaxa is heading in the wrong direction.
The Rayos have already begun a coaching search as Andrés Lillini is considered a favorite to land a job with El Tri as the director of Mexico’s junior teams. Necaxa management announced this week that Lillini is expected to finish out the season but that appears likely to end short of a playoff appearance.