Marco Antonio Palacios of UNAM Pumas. Palacios is suspended for the Capital Derby between Pumas and Cruz Azul on February 18, 2012.
Estudiantes Tecos looks for a win on Friday night before Saturday's big games.
This week's Mexican Primera schedule features one big Clasico, as well as a couple of winnable home games for two teams that are in dire need of victories. The best all-around football match is likely to be found in Torreon, where Santos Laguna host Monterrey. In Mexico City, Club America and Pachuca face off in a match that should feature plenty of goals.
Estudiantes Tecos Vs. Atlante
Friday, 9:10 p.m. ET
This is your weekly reminder: Tecos have never been relegated; Tecos are in last place by some distance. Atlante currently sit in a Liguilla place and have a perfect road record, but they're 3-1-2 with an even goal differential. These are the kinds of games Tecos needs to win. They have won no kinds of games this year. They have scored three goals.
I can't even tell you why Tecos should get points ever. They need the same miracle they get every time they almost get relegated.
Cruz Azul vs. UNAM Pumas
Saturday, 6:00 p.m. ET
TV: Azteca and FOX Deportes
Cruz Azul occupy a Liguilla place, while Pumas have been underachieving so far. This derby is always a well-played and strongly contested one. To use a cliche, throw the form book out the window (what is a form book?).
Pumas are coming off of an inexplicable home loss to Puebla, while Cruz Azul have a win over Jaguares and a road draw against Tijuana in their last two matches. Emmanuel Villa and Chaco Gimenez are in wonderful form in both the league and Libertadores, and the Cruz Azul defense looks the best it has in three years. Pumas are struggling to overcome the retirement of Paco Palencia, and will need more production out of young stars David Cabrera and Javier Cortes immediately if they want to avoid two straight seasons without a Liguilla appearance.
Cruz Azul will like their chances to score in this one. Pumas defender Marco Antonio Palacios is suspended, and he's almost irreplaceable.
Chivas Guadalajara vs. San Luis
Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET
With no disrespect intended to San Luis, Chivas' season is over if they don't get three points in this game. Sitting on one point through six matches, nothing less than a win at home against an average team with a poor defense will do for the Goats. There's nothing to analyze, because there's no reason for them to be this bad. They just need to play better. There's nothing wrong with the personnel at Chivas, and tactics are not to blame either.
Santos Laguna vs. Monterrey
Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET
This should be the best football on display in Mexico this weekend, even if it's not nearly as intense as the Capital Derby. Santos and Monterrey are both in the top four, they're very well-balanced between defense and attack, and they're quickly becoming not just favorites in the Clausura, but in CONCACAF Champions League as well.
Santos are coming off a loss to Morelia, in which Miguel Sabah was dominant and Felipe Baloy sat on the bench again. Aaron Galindo was very poor, and fans will likely be calling for Baloy's return to the center of defense against a Monterrey team that he has played well against in the past. He has a history of containing Humberto Suazo and Aldo de Nigris, and it would be stunning if he wasn't re-inserted into the lineup.
Club America vs. Pachuca
Sunday, 5:00 p.m. ET
Do you like goals? Do you hate defense? Watch this match. Mauro Cejas of Pachuca looks like the potential MVP of Mexican football at the moment, while America striker Chucho Benitez is due for a goal after a couple of solid performances, but no goals in the last two games. America haven't played well in their last two, but previously looked solid and a home game against an average defense could be just what they needed to get back into form.
Queretaro vs. Tijuana - Saturday, 6:00 p.m. ET
UANL Tigres vs. Atlas - Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET
Toluca vs. Jaguares Chiapas - Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET
Puebla vs. Monarcas Morelia - Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET
For more on the Primera and Mexican football, check out Mexican futbol blog FMF State Of Mind.