After a short winter break, the Liga MX will resume Friday with the start of the 2015 Clausura. So get ready for another few months of dramatic matches and battles -- here are five games to watch during the opening weekend of the new season.
1. America vs. Leon
What better way for Gustavo Matosas to start his tenure at America than to take on the last club he coached?
The match will be a big opportunity not only for Matosas, but for the club as a whole. Anything less than a title this season will be seen as a disappointment for America, and the first step towards attaining it is through a win on Saturday. America has high expectations and will need to make its presence known with a strong performance.
As for Leon, the club now has a new coach in Juan Antonio Pizzi, and nothing would be sweeter for the team than to go to Mexico City and steal a win. Leon was one of the best attacking teams in the league last season and could potentially upset Las Aguilas this weekend.
2. Tigres vs. Atlas
At the end of the 2014 Apertura, Tigres and Atlas finished second and third in the league respectively. Both squads are still arguably within the top four teams in the country, and this match could prove to be a difference-maker in the league table by the end of the season.
Tigres will hope to bounce back after their embarrassing 3-0 loss to America in the final match of the Apertura. The defeat was Tigres' worst of the season and one that snapped their 15-game unbeaten streak. Head coach Ricardo "Tuca" Ferreti has likely not forgotten the game and will send his squad out to be just as organized and coordinated as they have been in recent years.
Atlas should be able to hold its own with its new reinforcements like defender Walter Kannemann and a few excellent attacking options in Arturo Gonzalez. Although Tigres typically don't allow too many goals, Atlas has the ability to sneak a couple past them.
3. Pachuca vs. Cruz Azul
All eyes will be on Roque Santa Cruz on Saturday. Will the striker immediately make an impact in the league? Will he be ineffective and thwart Cruz Azul's plans?
After stumbling out of the 2014 FIFA Club World Cup and finishing in 13th place of the Apertura, La Maquina had an embarrassing end to 2014 and need to regain some confidence. Last season, the Mexico City club faced off against Pachuca in the opening match but failed to score. If Cruz Azul wants to push away the recent jokes surrounding the club, it needs a strong start to the season.
Pachuca has a new head coach in Diego Alonso and a wealth of young options for him to utilize. Considering the fact that this is a vital year for the national team, certain youngsters from Pachuca will need to immediately step up for their team. Rodolfo Pizarro and Jurgen Damm will need to have imposing performances this season if they want to be considered for El Tri this year.
4. Chiapas vs. Chivas
Will Chivas finally turn its form around? There has been plenty of positive talk from the ownership and management about the Guadalajara club but in the end, only the points matter.
Due to the fact that the team is so close to being relegated, every match will have a significant amount of weight to it and every loss will bring them one step closer to the Ascenso (the second division). Chivas made the right moves by incorporating Isaac Brizuela, Marco Fabian, Miguel Ponce, Erick Torres and Carlos Salcedo, but will it be enough to save the team from relegation?
As for Chiapas, the squad snuck into the playoffs last season after scoring 24 goals in 17 games. The club has kept Emiliano Armenteros and Vicente Matias Vuoso, their top two goal scorers from the Apertura, and could continue to surprise people in 2015.
5. Leones Negros vs. Monterrey
This match could potentially be one of the most one-sided games of the weekend -- but it could also be a perfect indicator of the current state of each team. Leones Negros have accumulated a number of reinforcements over the break, though: Jahir Barraza, Fernando Guerrero, Juan Anangono, Rodolfo Vilchis, Jorge Hernandez, Giovanni Leon and Jonathan Gonzalez. With the variety of options the squad now has the club could make a case for itself with a win over Monterrey.
Monterrey, on the other hand, made some of the best signings through the additions of Alexander Mejia, Edwin Cardona, and Yimmi Chara. With their new support, Los Rayados will need to showcase their talent against a squad who is in danger of relegation.
A win is expected for Monterrey, and anything less will be seen as an early worry for the team. A win, or possibly even a tie, for Leones Negros would be an immense boost early in the season for the Guadalajara side.