Round 5 of the Mexican Primera's 2011 Clausura has another great fixture list, with the late Saturday showdown between UANL Tigres and Santos Laguna likely to draw the most eyeballs. Tigres are the summer's big spenders, while Santos have been runners-up for two consecutive tournaments and have retained their key pieces for this season. Both teams sit on seven points, tied atop Group 1, and both would like to separate themselves further from not only their opponent on Saturday, but the sleeping giants that are Monterrey and Chivas Guadalajara.
After a great start to the tournament, taking seven points from their first three matches, Tigres stumbled last week in a home loss to the Red Devils of Toluca. It was the first match where Ricardo Ferretti had all of his weapons at his disposal, and he didn't look like he knew exactly how to use them. Jonathan Bornstein, Carlos Ochoa, Francisco Acuña, and David Toledo were the men who sat while Ferretti unsuccessfully tried to shove Danilinho, Lucas Lobos, and Damian Alvarez onto the same field. It will be interesting to see what kind of adjustments Tigres makes against Santos. It's possible that the answer could be "none," since Tigres were actually the better side; they just failed to score, while Toluca finished one of their limited opportunities.
The spine of the Santos side is looking solid as always, with Felipe Baloy and Jonathan Lacerda at the back, Juan Rodriguez shielding the defense, Daniel Ludueña creating, and the Darwin Quintero-Cristian Benitez combination scoring the goals. Their 2-1 last week over Jaguares Chiapas was a little easier than the scoreboard indicates, with the forward two men having great games while Rodriguez worked to control the midfield as always. The matchup between Rodriguez and Lucas Lobos of Tigres should be a great one, provided that Lobos actually starts in his preferred withdrawn forward role.
Other intriguing matchups this week include Monterrey vs. Pachuca, a match between two struggling teams with plenty of talent, and Cruz Azul vs. Jaguares, with the former side coming off an emphatic 4-0 win against Pachuca. Both of those matches take place at 6 pm ET on Saturday.
The Friday night match in La Primera features Necaxa trying to take their first points at home against Monarcas Morelia, who notched an impressive 3-3 comeback draw against San Luis last week. After their poor start, Necaxa have fired manager Daniel Brailovsky and replaced him with Sergio Bueno, who faces an uphill battle to save the team from relegation. Morelia currently sit third in Group 3 and are very much in contention for a Liguilla place.
The action starts at 9 pm ET. You can catch the match between Necaxa and Morelia on Azteca America and Fox Deportes, or you can just keep it on SBNation for live coverage.