The sports world has come screeching to a near halt as the COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in league suspensions around the globe. However, not all leagues have shut down just yet. Mexico’s Liga MX is planning on playing its weekend schedule, starting Friday with matchups between Morelia and Querétaro, and between Tijuana and Pachuca.
Here’s a few things you need to know about Liga MX:
* The season is split in two, so there’s actually two champions every year. The first season is called the Apertura, which runs from July until December, and the second season is the Clausura. We’re in Tourneo Clausura season right now, which is from January to June.
* There’s 19 teams in the league, so you play nine away matches and nine home matches per tournament. And you flip the teams between Apertura and Clausura.
* Eight teams make the playoffs each tournament, which are contested home-and-away and aggregate score wins. C.F. Monterrey went on a massive run as the No. 8 seed in the Apertura this year to claim the championship. It’s like if Butler had actually made that shot against Duke in 2010.
And now that you’re an expert in the ways of Mexican soccer, let’s place some wagers!
Club Tijuana vs CF Pachuca
Club Tijuana +135 53% of handle, 58% of bets at DraftKings Sportsbook.
Tie +240 43% of handle, 30% of bets
CF Pachuca +190 5% of handle, 13% of bets
How to watch: Friday 11:10 p.m. E.T. ESPN3, ESPND
The bettors like the Xolos of Club Tijuana, and with good reason, but it may be more heart than math. They’re a stones throw from the US-Mexico border, meaning they have a large American fanbase that comes over the border for matches. But they are struggling early in the Clausura this season, as they’ve got just six points from nine matches. Pachuca is mid-table with 14 points through Round Nine, and both clubs just missed the Apertura playoffs earlier this year.
The struggles are hurting TJ at the box office, as attendance is down to about 13,000 fans a game for a club that was sold out with nearly 30,000 often during its championship run in 2012 right after receiving promotion. Their defensive style isn’t so great either: Camilo Sanvezzo is the leading scorer in 2019-20 with eight goals in 27 matches, and three of those were penalty kicks.
The visitors Pachuca are led by club legend Franco Jara, an Argentinian that is beloved by fans. The club was founded by English miners from Cornwall in the mountainous area about 50 miles northeast of Mexico City in 1901, and was one of the dominant forces in Liga MX and beyond the previous decade. They did claim a Clausura in 2016, and converted that into the CONCACAF Champions League trophy in 2017 after doing what all Mexican teams do: beating an MLS team on the way to glory (this time it was FC Dallas).
The pick: Nothing more fun than betting on a tie in Mexican soccer, but there’s good value here. Tijuana should pack it in at home to contain Jara and a more explosive offense. We’ll take a draw and the nice price at +240.
Monarcas Morelia vs Queretaro FC, 11:00 p.m.
Monarcas Morelia +115, 74% of handle, 60% of bets
Tie +240, 18% of handle, 26% of bets
Querétaro FC +230, 8% of handle, 14% of bets
Morelia has been a pretty mid-table side this year, not really making much noise since their run to the Apertura championship in 2013. They barely fought off relegation in Liga MX’s multi-year point system, but have established themselves right in the middle of the league for now. Fernando Aristeguieta is one of the leading assist men in Mexico, and watch out for Aldo Rocha, who picked up eight yellow cards in 18 matches during the Apertura.
Meanwhile the story of Querétaro is one you can only find in the insanity that is Mexican futbol. They were relegated in 2013, so instead they just bought another club that wasn’t relegated and wiped them out. And that’s why Chiapas F.C. doesn’t exist anymore. Club San Luis just moved to the Chiapas home of Tuxtla Gutiérrez, so they got a new team too.
Anyway, the guy that put the whole deal together went to jail for defrauding a Mexican bank, the team was placed into bankruptcy, from which media conglomerate Grupo Imagen bought the team. And this story is only like a 5 on the 1-10 scale of crazy Mexican soccer stories.
Querétaro right now is in a playoff position in seventh place behind a strong Clausura from Ariel Nahuelpan and Fabian Cástillo, both sold from Tijuana this season. They also beat Morelia 3-1 to close out the Apertura.
The Pick: We’ll take Querétaro FC because they’re in form and have a good price. Plus Morelia has yet to keep a clean sheet in the Clausura, and their lack of defense can lead to scoring opportunities even on the road.
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