If you enjoy leagues with questionable defending, fights, pretty passing moves and referees that resemble Dracula, Liga MX is for you. Reigning champions Club Tijuana, who face the tricky task of playing Liga MX while participating in the Copa Libertadores, begin their defense of their first ever title on Sunday. Things kick off Friday with an intriguing match, featuring a big debut.
Monarcas Morelia vs. Cruz Azul
Friday, 8:30 p.m. ET. TV: Azteca
Friday night should mark the debut of Teofilo Gutierrez, the very talented but troubled Colombian international. Cruz Azul opted to let go of Omar Bravo this winter and bring in Teo, who Racing Club in Argentina were very eager to see leave. He was loaned to Junior Atletico during the fall following another loan spell at Lanus, which followed him shooting paintballs at his teammates.
Supporters of Cruz Azul will have to wait a bit longer to see their other big signing, Nicolas Bertolo, who isn't expected to be ready to play quite yet. Monarcas Morelia have also made quite a few moves, though their most high profile transfer was one out the door. Miguel Sabah has taken his talents to Guadalajara to play for Chivas. They've replaced him with quantity over quality, bringing in Hector Mancilla and Sergio Santana from Atlas.
Veteran defender Mauricio Romero is out for Morelia, while the absence of veteran striker Mariano Pavone all but guarantees that Teo will play a part. Both teams have plenty of attacking talent and attack-minded managers, so expect goals.
Pick: 2-2 draw.
Club America vs. Monterrey
Saturday, 6 p.m. ET. TV: Univision
For years, Club America's defense has been shaky. They finally put things together in the last tournament, producing the joint-best defensive record in the league, and they've improved things further by adding 'Maza' Francisco Rodriguez from Stuttgart over the winter. He's joined by Paraguayan veteran Osvaldo Martinez and striker Narcisco Mina -- whose goal record over the last two years is astonishing -- as a new arrival. Unfortunately for fans of Liga MX in general, long-time star Daniel Montenegro has left the club to return to his native Argentina.
Sergio Perez and Angel Reyna are gone at Monterrey, while Leobardo Lopez and Omar Arellano have arrived. For now, Aldo de Nigris and Humberto Suazo remain on the squad, but there's time for them to jet for South America or Europe.
This has the potential to be the best matchup of the round, assuming everyone's fit and motivated. 'Maza' isn't expected to start, while Suazo's dedication to Monterrey or strong desire to leave seems to change on a daily basis. When the two clubs met last season, America's back three proved to be a good matchup for the Rayados in a 0-0 draw. It wouldn't be shocking to see a repeat, though if it happens, it won't be a 0-0 draw that's boring and lacking in quality.
Pick: 1-1 draw.
Chivas Guadalajara vs. Toluca
Sunday, 6 p.m. ET. TV: Telemundo
Every year is finally going to be Chivas' year. For once, they might actually live up to the hype. Their young players are a year more experienced, they've brought in some excellent reinforcements, and Benjamin Galindo is a great coach. However, Galindo's appointment came only this week, and he won't have much time with his team before this game. That means it's anyone's guess whether or not new signings Adrian Cortes, Sergio Perez and Miguel Sabah make an appearance.
Once again, Toluca have gone through a sensible, but not flashy offseason. Xavier Baez might debut for his new club against his old club on Sunday, while Fausto Pinto and Flavio Santos are also quality additions. They join a squad that was already good enough to finish top of the table last season, and give the Red Devils much needed depth as they head into Copa Libertadores.
When it comes to Chivas, it's fair for fans to take an "I'll believe it when I see it" attitude. The talent has been there for a few seasons. Talent has never been a problem at Chivas. Galindo is probably the right coach to get that talent to mesh, but he hasn't had any time with them yet, and Toluca looked like a well-oiled machine last tournament. Don't expect the Galindo era to get off to a roaring start, even if this weekend's result isn't his fault.
Pick: 3-1, Toluca.
Other matches (all times ET)
Pachuca vs. Atlante - Saturday, 8 p.m.
UANL Tigres vs. Jaguares de Chiapas - Saturday, 8 p.m.
Club Leon vs. Queretaro - Saturday, 9 p.m.
San Luis vs. Santos Laguna - Saturday, 10 p.m.
Pumas UNAM vs. Club Atlas - Sunday, 1 p.m.
Puebla vs. Club Tijuana - Sunday, 5 p.m.