The Liga Bancomer MX is upon us along with all its excitement, surprises and disappointment. A few teams are eyeing the ultimate prize, some are looking to surprise in la liguilla and contend for those three coveted spots in Copa Libertadores , the majority are expecting mediocrity with hopes of claiming a liguilla spot and some are just trying to stay off the bottom of that dreaded descenso table.
Let’s take a look at who these teams are:
Key Transfer Arrivals: Andrés Andrade, Attacking Mid, Deportes Tolima, Carlos Gutiérrez,Left Mid, Atlas, Luis Mendoza, Left Wing, Tigres UANL and Luis Gabriel Rey, Forward, Monarcas Morelia.
Key Transfer Departures: Christian Benítez, Forward, El-Jaish Sports Club, Oswaldo Vizcarrondo, Centre Back, FC Nantes and Diego Reyes, Centre Back, FC Porto
Where They Stand: The departure of young star Diego Reyes leaves a huge gap in the defensive line up for Hector Herrera but where they will feel the most growing pains will be in the forward position where young Raul Jimenez will have to prove he can do it without league leading goal scorer and new El-Jaish star Christian “Chucho” Benitez. Andrés Andrade is a very interesting transfer who America executives hope will be the next superstar. The champions will not suffer from a championship hangover but do not expect a repeat.
Breakout Player: Raul Jimenez, Forward.
Projected Finish: 6th in table and quarterfinals in Liguilla.
Key Transfer Arrivals: Ángel Sepúlveda, Forward, Monarcas Morelia, Wálter Erviti, Midfield, Boca Juniors, Mauricio Romero, Centre Back, Club Atlético Colón, Yosgart Gutiérrez, Keeper, Cruz Azul, and Alejandro Vela, Left Mid, Cruz Azul.
Key Transfer Departures: Esteban Paredes, Left Wing, Querétaro FC, Jerónimo Amione, Forward Cruz Azul, and Sergio Napolés, Right Wing, Cruz Azul.
Where They Stand: After just saving themselves from relegation last season Atlante and new coach Wilson Graniolatti have shuffled the squad in an effort to continue to stay off the bottom of the descenso table. The strength of this team will be its defense with veteran Mauricio Romero making a return to Liga MX. The midfield will feel and look different as Alejandro Vela and Walter Erviti will try and feed the ball to inexperienced forwards that will lack the finishing touch and cold blood of Esteban Paredes. This might not be enough to save them from a bottom of the table finish.
Breakout Player: Yosgart Gutiérrez, Keeper
Projected Finish: 17th in table
Key Transfer Arrivals: César Ibáñez, Right-Back, Santos Laguna, Michael Ortega, Attacking Mid, Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Giancarlo Maldonado, Forward, Deportivo Táchira, Flavio Santo, Right Wing, Toluca
Key Transfer Departures: Isaac Brizuela, Striker, Toluca, Carlos Gutiérrez, Left Mid, América
Where They Stand: The surprise team of the Clausura tournament should be able to qualify for la liguilla once again even with new coach Omar Asad. With minimal changes from departures and strong players coming back from loan the only worry for this squad is its own board of directors who put a nasty blemish on their last campaign when reports surfaced that the team was in financial straits. The strength of this team is in their attacking depth they should not be shut out in any games.
Breakout Player: Jahir Barraza, Left Wing.
Projected Finish: 8th in table and quarterfinals in Liguilla.
Key Transfer Arrivals: Lucas Viatri, Forward, Boca Juniors, Miguel Martínez, Centre Back, Querétaro FC, and Sergio Santana, Forward, Monarcas Morelia.
Key Transfer Departures: César Villaluz, Right Mid, Tigres UANL, and Oscar Perez, Keeper, Pachuca
Where They Stand: The former San Luis F.C. may find it difficult to replace the old Chiapas franchise that now resides in Queretaro. There has been an overhaul of transfer and loans of former San Luis players and insertion of several new players on the roster. Many do not expect too much change in this team besides the uniform and name but new coach Sergio Bueno hopes that the money spent this summer will be enough to contend.
Breakout Player: Carlos Ochoa, Forward.
Projected Finish: 14th in table.
Key Transfer Arrivals: Xavier Báez, Midfield,Deportivo Guadalajara, Jerónimo Amione, Forward, Atlante, Joao Rojas, Right Wing, Monarcas Morelia, and Sergio Napolés, Right Wing, Atlante.
Key Transfer Departures: Alejandro Vela, Left Mid, Atlante and Javier Orozco, Forward, Santos Laguna.
Where They Stand: The ongoing melodrama between explosive forward Teo Gutierrez and the board of directors has overshadowed the strong pre season this team is having. The same squad that surprised the league with a strong finish after they were counted down and out returns with a vengeance. The new transfers add depth to the already powerful offense and the stingy defense returns intact. Expect nothing less than a top three finish and possibly a title run.
Breakout Player: Joao Rojas, Right Wing.
Projected Finish: 4th in Table and semifinals in Liguilla.
Key Transfer Arrivals: Aldo de Nigris, Forward, CF Monterrey, and Néstor Vidrio, Centre Back, Pachuca.
Key Transfer Departures: Xavier Báez, Midfield, Cruz Azul, Sergio Pérez, Right-Back, CF Atlante, and Erick “Cubo” Torres, Forward, Chivas USA.
Where They Stand: Coming back from a very disappointing season this Chivas team looks to reclaim a top spot. Coach Benjamin Galindo has plenty of weapons to choose from and the addition of target man Aldo de Nigris just makes his selection process even more difficult. The defense will be reinforced with Nestor Vidrio and the return of Hector Reynoso making this team balanced both offensively and defensively. Look for this squad to surprise more than a few teams this campaign.
Breakout Player: Jesus Sanchez, Left Wing.
Projected Finish: 7th in Table and quarterfinals in Liguilla.
Key Transfer Arrivals: Franco Arizala, Right Wing, CF Pachuca, Elías Hernández, Right Mid, Tigres UANL, and Mauro Boselli, Forward, Wigan Athletic.
Key Transfer Departures: Nery Castillo, Attacking Midfield, Rayo Vallecano and Edgar Pacheco, Right Mid, Tigres UANL.
Where They Stand: Arguably the most disappointing team of the Clausura tournament returns healthy and much more reinforced. León’s attack is the envy of the league with surprise transfer Mauro Boselli joining the ranks but the big story is what did not change as heavily pursued Forward Matias Brito has decided to stay at the club for one more season. Leon will make a huge impact during the regular season but their inexperience will be their downfall come Liguilla time.
Breakout Player: Elias Hernandez, Right Mid.
Projected Finish: 2nd in table, semi finals in liguilla.
Key Transfer Arrivals: Dorlan Pabón, Forward, FC Parma, Efraín Juárez, Right-Back, CF América, and Lucas Silva, Attacking Mid, Toluca
Key Transfer Departures: Aldo de Nigris, Forward, Guadalajara and Wálter Ayoví, Left Mid, CF Pachuca.
Where They Stand: The addition of Dorlan Pabon to compensate for the loss of Aldo de Nigris could make or break the tournament for Monterrey. De Nigris was a perfect compliment to goal scoring machine Humberto Suazo but the question is will Suazo learn to play second fiddle to a younger and faster Pabon? The midfield and defense has improved on paper but team chemistry will be the issue for this club during the season but should be figured out by la Liguilla.
Breakout Player: Dorlan Pabón, Forward.
Projected Finish: 3rd in table and Sub Champion in liguilla.
Key Transfer Arrivals: Juan Govea, Forward, El Nacional, Armando Zamorano, Central Mid, Chiapas FC, and Édgar Andrade, Right Mid, Chiapas FC.
Key Transfer Departures: Joao Rojas, Right Wing, Cruz Azul, Carlos Ochoa, Forward, Chiapas FC and Uriel Álvarez, Right-Back, Chiapas FC.
Where They Stand: Last tournaments 4th place team has liguilla on their mind once again but will be missing fast playmaker Joao Rojas. Edgar Andrade has been added to replace him but may lack the game changing ability of Rojas. New forward Juan Govea, though dominating in Ecuador, might find it difficult to adjust to the mexican game in his first season. As good as this team was last year especially offensively they may have to wait to the Clausura tournament to get back to la Liguilla.
Breakout Player: Edgar Andrade, Right Mid.
Projected Finish: 10th in table.
Key Transfer Arrivals: Duvier Riascos, Forward, Club Tijuana, Jorge Iván Estrada, Left-Back, Santos Laguna and Wálter Ayoví, Left Mid, Monterrey.
Key Transfer Departures: Héctor Herrera, Midfield, FC Porto and Angel Reyna, Midfield, Veracruz.
Where They Stand: It will be difficult for Pachuca to fill the void left by Olympian Hector Herrera who is on to bigger and better things at FC Porto. Difficult but not impossible as much of the talent remains on this Pachuca squad and then some with the addition of hungry goal scorer and playmaker Duvier Riascos who is out to prove to Pachuca fans and executives that their money was well spent. Expect this team to make a late run for a liguilla spot but most likely fall short.
Breakout Player: Duvier Riascos, Forward.
Projected Finish: 9th in table.
Key Transfer Arrivals: Alfredo Moreno, Centre Forward, Chiapas FC, Armando Navarrete, Keeper, CF América, and Óscar Rojas, Right-Back, CF America.
Key Transfer Departures: Jonathan Lacerda, Centre Back, Santos Laguna, Michael Orozco, Centre Back, Chiapas FC, and Segundo Castillo, Defensive Midfield, Al-Hilal Riyadh.
Where They Stand: It seems the goal for this Puebla squad is not to succeed but merely to survive this tournament. The transfer window has not been kind to this team as it has lost a lot of its defensive talent and has no where near replaced it. Veteran coach Manuel Lapuente needs to get his players on board and make them realize that one more bad tournament might just be enough for this team to find themselves playing Acenso league futbol next year.
Breakout Player: Armando Navarrete, Keeper.
Projected Finish: 18th in table.
Key Transfer Arrivals: Leandro Graciá, Attacking Mid, Boca Juniors, Pablo Antonio Gabas, Attacking Mid, LD Alajuelense, and Esteban Paredes, Left Wing, CF Atlante.
Key Transfer Departures: Oswaldo Henríquez, Centre Back, Millonarios FC, Patricio Treviño, Centre Back, CF América, and Carlos Bueno, Forward
Where They Stand: The city of Queretaro has received an upgrade with this new Queretaro franchise that has replaced the now defunct squad that was relegated. A very minimal upgrade but an upgrade nonetheless. The fear of relegation will be out of fans minds at least for a few more seasons but there is quite a bit of work to do if this team wants to get back to playing Liguilla futbol. Coach Ignacio Ambriz will have his hands full as this team begins to find their identity which surely will not happen this season.
Breakout Player: Esteban Paredes, Left Wing.
Projected Finish: 15th in table.
Key Transfer Arrivals: Eduardo Herrera, Forward, UNAM Pumas, Javier Orozco, Forward, Cruz Azul, and Néstor Araujo, Centre Back, Cruz Azul.
Key Transfer Departures: Hérculez Gómez, Forward, Club Tijuana, Cándido Ramírez, Left Wing, UNAM Pumas and Jorge Iván Estrada, Left-Back, CF Pachuca
Where They Stand: The main core of this team returns for and the addition of Javier Orozco to compensate for the departure of the aging Hérculez Gómez is a definite upgrade. The defense is concrete and reinforced with Néstor Araujo who may work his way towards the starting lineup as the season progresses. Look for this team to have another solid campaign but once again fall short of the ultimate prize in la Liguilla.
Breakout Player: Javier Orozco, Forward.
Projected Finish: 5th in table, Quarterfinals in Liguilla.
Key Transfer Arrivals: Hérculez Gómez, Forward, Santos Laguna and Darío Benedetto, Attacking Midfield, Arsenal de Sarandí FC
Key Transfer Departures: Daniel Márquez, Forward, CF América and Duvier Riascos, Forward,CF Pachuca
Where They Stand: The surprise team of the 2012 Libertadores competition is now in rebuilding mode. After the departure of charismatic manager Antonio Mohammed and some of their key talent including forward Duvier Riascos this team will find it difficult to qualify for another continental cup for at least another season. The defense is solid and midfield play is their advantage but they will be lacking attack capability as they try to replace Riascos with veteran striker Hérculez Gómez. Expect this team to play out this tournament as it is and make in impact in the January transfer market for a Clausura tournament title run.
Breakout Player: Joe Corona, Midfield.
Projected Finish: 11th in table.
Key Transfer Arrivals: Aarón Galindo, Centre Back, Santos Laguna, Óscar Ricardo Rojas, Right-Back, UNAM, Paulo da Silva, Centre Back, CF Pachuca, and Edgar Benítez, Forward, CF Pachuca.
Key Transfer Departures: Diego Novaretti, Centre Back, Lazio, Lucas Silva, Attacking Midfield, CF Monterrey, and Luis Tejada, Forward, Veracruz.
Where They Stand: Toluca legend and now manager José Saturnino Cardozo brings a whole new attitude and game plan to this squad which was very technical and boring at times during Ojitos Meza’s one year reign. The defense will miss new Lazio man Diego Novaretti but may improve with veterans Aarón Galindo and Paulo da Silva joining the ranks. Offensively Edgar Benitez will have the task of improving a depleted forward position that remains the weakness of this Toluca team.
Breakout Player: Antonio Rios, Midfield.
Projected Finish: 13th in table.
Key Transfer Arrivals: Guido Pizarro, Central Mid, Club Atlético Lanús, César Villaluz, Right Mid, San Luis FC, and Édgar Gerardo Lugo, Left Mid, Santos Laguna.
Key Transfer Departures:Elías Hernández, Right Midfield, Club León FC and Francisco Acuña, Right Midfield, CF Atlante.
Where They Stand: Last years number 1 seed looks to comeback from an embarrassing display in the last liguilla were they ousted by rival Monterrey who was in on a technicality. The rich got richer in this transfer window as they have added plenty depth to the midfield position that is arguably the best in mexican futbol. This team should have no problem achieving the number one position once again and should also be favored in the CONCACAF champions league as this team has more than enough talent for two tournaments. Expect Tigres to hold up the Apertura trophy come December.
Breakout Player: Jorge Torres-Nilo, Left-Back.
Projected Finish: 1st in table, Champion in Liguilla
Key Transfer Arrivals: Ariel Nahuelpán, Forward, Barcelona SC Guayaquila, and Cándido Ramírez, Left Wing, Santos Laguna.
Key Transfer Departures: Eduardo Herrera, Centre Forward, Santos Laguna, Jaime Lozano,Left Midfield,CF Oaxaca, and Jehu Chiapas Central Midfield, Veracruz.
Where They Stand: The arrival of Ariel Nahuelpán and Cándido Ramírez make this team look younger and faster on paper but do not expect the success of last tournament. The strength in this team is in the midfield that will keep this team in many games but may not be enough against higher quality opponents. A mid table finish is expected as they will attempt to capture a spot in la liguilla. Without much depth this team will falter with a key injury.
Breakout Player: Ariel Nahuelpán, Forward.
Projected Finish: 12th in table.
Key Transfer Arrivals: Angel Reyna, Attacking Mid, CF Pachuca, Jehu Chiapas,Central Midfield, UNAM Pumas, Israel Martínez, Central Midfield, CF América, Luis Tejada, Forward, Toluca and Christian Marrugo,Central Midfield, CF Pachuca.
Key Transfer Departures: The core of FC La Piedad.
Where They Stand: The new primera division team has a new name, new image and revamped roster. Liga MX transfer prize Angel Reyna and the other new transfers have the talent to compete in this league but this a team sport and individual talent alone will not be enough if they want to make any sort of impact in the Apertura tournament. Look for signs of good things to come for the Clausura tournament from this team.
Breakout Player: Angel Reyna, Attacking Mid.
Projected Finish: 16th in table.