TOYOTA, JAPAN - DECEMBER 14: Hiram Mier (C) of Monterrey celebrates with team mates during the FIFA Club World Cup 5th Place match between Club de Futbol Monterrey and Esperance Sportive de Tunis at Toyota Stadium on December 14, 2011 in Toyota, Japan. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
Liga MX kicks off Friday with two matches. Week 1's marquee fixture comes on Saturday night, when Club America travels north to face Monterrey.
The Mexican Primera Division is no more. Mexico's top flight will still be referred to either by that name or by its nickname, 'FMF' by most people, but the powers that be have changed the league's name to Liga MX. The new league is the second of the world's major Fall-Spring leagues to kick off its season, following the Russian Premier League's kickoff earlier on Friday.
Those who make the fixtures usually aren't too kind to the public for Week 1, but they've lined up some very entertaining matches to kick off Liga MX this year.
Jaguares Chiapas vs. UANL Tigres
Friday, 8:30 p.m. ET
TV: Azteca and FOX Deportes
The summer was not kind to Profe Cruz, who lost two of his best players. Jaguares will be without the services of Jorge Daniel Hernandez and Jackson Martinez after their transfers away from the club, and they didn't exactly buy like-for-like replacements. Their home record has been strong in recent years, but they'll probably struggle in their opener against a loaded Tigres team. The core of their 2011 Apertura winning team remains, and they've replaced departed striker Hector Mancilla with La Liga veteran Luis Garcia. Expect a big year from Ricardo Ferretti's side.
Pick: Jaguares 1-2 Tigres
Club Tijuana vs. Puebla
Friday, 10:30 p.m. ET
TV: Univision Deportes
Nooooo, not the dreaded Univision Deportes! You probably don't get that channel, but check with your cable or satellite provider just in case. Both Puebla and Tijuana lost key players this summer, but did well to replace them while adding more depth. Egidio Arévalo Ríos left the Xolos, while Luis Garcia has left Puebla, and both teams have replaced them by signing multiple serviceable players as opposed to finding someone of equal quality. The United States missing out on the Olympics was lucky for the Xolos, since they won't be losing Americans Joe Corona and Greg Garza for any period of time. They're very tough to beat at home and should open their campaign with a win.
Pick: Tijuana 1-0 Puebla
Cruz Azul vs. Monarcas Morelia
Saturday, 6:00 p.m. ET
TV: Azteca and ESPN Deportes
Cruz Azul and Morelia have both been yo-yo teams over the last four years. They've had periods of great success, both of them getting to Liguilla finals, but both have missed out on Liguilla when they had enough talent to be a playoff team. Following this summer's events, this might be a down season for both teams. Both lost some of their best players in the transfer market and their new signings are unproven. Morelia will need a big year from Jefferson Montero, while Cruz Azul will hope Mariano Pavone can replace Emmanuel Villa's goals. Both teams also have new managers that prefer more attacking styles of play than their departed managers, so this game could feature lots of goals.
Pick: Cruz Azul 2-2 Monarcas Morelia
Monterrey vs. Club America
Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET
TV: Univision Deportes
The best game of the week is on the channel that's hardest to get. FMF, ladies and gentlemen. The champions of the last two tournaments, UANL Tigres and Santos Laguna, along with Chivas Guadalajara will have big expectations this year, but America and Monterrey blow them away for raw talent and depth. There's absolutely no excuse for either team to finish outside of the top five places in Liguilla, and a semifinal appearance should be the minimum goal for both sides in the 2012 Apertura.
America held on to the core of their team, losing only substitute players while adding potential starters Efrain Juarez, Adrian Aldrete and Rubens Sambueza. Monterrey still has all of their key players from their 2012 CONCACAF Champions League winning team and their 2012 Clausura runners-up campaign. This game will feature the most talent seen on one pitch in a Mexican league game this season, and it comes on Week 1. There's not much between these teams, but it would be surprising if Monterrey lost at home.
Pick: Monterrey 1-1 America
Other Matches (all times ET)
Queretaro vs. Club Leon - Saturday, 6:00 p.m.
Santos Laguna vs. San Luis - Saturday, 8:00 p.m.
Club Atlas vs. Pumas UNAM - Saturday, 10:00 p.m.
Toluca vs. Chivas Guadalajara - Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
Atlante vs. Pachuca - Sunday, 7:00 p.m.
For more on Liga MX and Mexican football in general, head over to FMF State Of Mind.