Joe Corona of the Tijuana Xolos. Tijuana faces Estudiantes Tecos in the Mexican Primera on March 2, 2012.
Tecos and Tijuana play a massive relegation decider on Friday, while Monterrey and Cruz Azul contest the weekend's best match.
With none of the teams at the top of the Mexican Primera table facing off against each other and no Clasicos as well, this week's biggest match is in the relegation race. On Friday night, in the first fixture of Jornada 8, Estudiantes Tecos host the Tijuana Xolos. Tecos currently sit bottom, and while Tijuana are not likely to fall all the way down towards the relegation place, they need somewhere in the neighborhood of seven points from their last eight games to ensure top-flight football for next season.
Cruz Azul are currently out of Liguilla places, and have an excellent chance to get their season turned around and put a dent in a direct rival when they take on Monterrey at home. Santos Laguna, UANL Tigres and Club America all have home games in which they will be significant favorites.
Estudiantes Tecos vs. Tijuana
Friday, 9:10 p.m. ET
Time is running out on Tecos for them to save their Primera status, but the good news is that two of their direct rivals, Queretaro and Atlas, look unlikely to cross the 1.2 points per game threshold. Tecos currently have a coefficient of 1.01 points per game and will soon be mathematically relegated if they don't start winning games. Tecos will need to get to around 20 points this season to have a reasonable chance of staying up, and they're far from that pace with five points from eight games.
They're coming up against a Tijuana side that has already played the top teams and, for the most part, fared well. Their only loss on the season is to Santos Laguna and they have wins over Monterrey and Chivas. They were able to draw Cruz Azul and Morelia, and they did not lose in the month of February.
Tecos has just five goals on the season. They're still relying on 39-year-old 'Pony' Rodrigo Ruiz. Things look dire, but they'll finally have some hope if they can grab three points from Tijuana. This is your weekly reminder: Tecos have never been relegated.
Cruz Azul vs. Monterrey
Saturday, 6:00 p.m. ET
Two months ago, Humberto Suazo was never going to play for Monterrey again and Victor Manuel Vucetich was just about out of a job. Fast forward two months and Chupete is playing while Monterrey sit in third plays. Aldo de Nigris is healthy again. Cesar Delgado is playing well. The entire team that won the CONCACAF Champions League is intact and healthy. Vucetich's job security seems to be just fine.
The same cannot be said for Enrique Meza, who probably won't see the other side of the summer as Cruz Azul boss if his team fails to qualify for Liguilla. Despite their huge stable of strikers, they're struggling to score goals. Their defense looks disorganized and Omar Bravo has done literally nothing. The Blue Machine has just two wins from eight games, and it's obvious that Copa Libertadores is taking its toll on the team.
However, Monterrey and Cruz Azul under Vucetich and Meza can get very hot or fall off a cliff very quickly. If Cruz Azul can find their form and pull off a big win at Estadio Azul, it could reverse the fortunes of both teams in the Apertura. 'Chaco' Christian Gimenez and 'Tito' Emmanuel Villa seem to pull goals out of nothing at home, but the aging Cruz Azul midfield should struggle with the very athletic midfield of Monterrey.
Queretaro vs. Monarcas Morelia - Saturday, 6:00 p.m. ET
Santos Laguna vs. San Luis - Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET
UANL Tigres vs. Atlante - Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET
Atlas vs. Pachuca - Saturday, 9:45 p.m. ET
Toluca vs Pumas UNAM - Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET
Puebla vs. Chivas Guadalajara - Sunday, 5:00 p.m. ET
Club America vs. Jaguares Chiapas - Sunday, 5:00 p.m. ET