On the Brink: Week 2-3

Two weeks have now passed in this season and no further clarity has come to the relegation race. The apparent weakest squads heading in to the season have displayed the opposite. The teams known for mental fragility have toughed-out wins. The script is flipped from one week to the next.

One consistency is present. Liga MX officiating will be heard. The relegation race is not fortunate enough to escape the grasp of dodgy officiating that infects the entirety of the league.  Two of our fearful foursome were directly impacted this week by some shady decisions from the arbitros.

 In Friday night's match between Queretaro and Leones Negros, the relegation contenders from Guadalajara were able to keep the Gallos Blancos scoreless in the Estadio Corregidora into stoppage time. They weren't, however, able to prevent the official from awarding a highly-questionable penalty in the final moments to Queretaro. The Gallos took the three points and an all-but-certain point from Leones Negros. Considering the great impact that each point has on the relegation race, especially for Leones Negros, this was truly a massive decision.

The big game sloppiness didn't end there. Chivas coming off a tough opening weekend opened at home to a full crowd.  The Omnilife witnessed a Chivas team playing like one that belonged in the Liga MX. Golazos from Angel Reyna and Marco Fabian propelled Chivas to a 2-0 halftime lead. Then things got tossed into the lottery of referee chance. Pumas were awarded a penalty that could also be called a bit dubious in the 83rd minute. Chivas were now another concession away from coughing up two big points. But poor officiating giveth and poor officiating taketh away. Not long after the goal, Pumas were reduced to 10 men when David Cabrera received his second yellow card for a weak foul. To top off the mess, Dario Veron scored the apparent equalizer for the visitors. This goal was called back for a nonexistent offsides infraction. Chivas escaped with the three points after what was actually a fairly strong performance.

The final match involving relegation contenders pitted Puebla against the Tiburones Rojos in Veracruz. With a solid showing, Veracruz flexed their might and came away with a crucial 3-1 victory. This not only puts them the farthest away from the place of doom of the four contenders but also an ironic place at the top of the table. You can't do better than two wins in two games. As for Puebla, it's to the bottom. They now sit three points behind Chivas. Puebla can take solace in the fact that so much of the season has yet to play out. However, if current form is the ultimate measure, there is a disparity present between La Franja and the other three.

TABLA DE DESCENSO *

15. Veracruz - 53 games played - 57 points - 1.0755 ppg

16. Leones Negros - 19 games played - 20 points - 1.0526 ppg

17. Chivas - 87 games played - 91 points - 1.0460 ppg

18. Puebla - 87 games played - 88 points - 1.0115 ppg

This upcoming weekend will be a bit of a gauntlet for all four of our troubled squads. Veracruz will stay home but host perennial power Cruz Azul. Veracruz could have confidence in their start and the knowledge that they came away with a win in this fixture last year. Yet, it's clear that any points will be hard one in this match.

In a case of less hope, Puebla takes the short trip to el DF and the unfriendly confines of Estadio Azteca. America is coming off their disappointing loss in Tijuana and will be looking to hang a few on Puebla. I can't think of any reason why this won't happen. Good luck, Puebla.

On Sunday, another mammoth match in this race will go down. The Estadio Jalisco will host the cross-town battle between the Leones Negros and Chivas. With Leones Negros being only nominally the home side, it would probably be favorable for each side to exit this one with a draw. A win from either would heavily tip the scales. I have no idea how this one will turn out, but I will most certainly be tuned in.

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* Relegation in Liga MX is determined based on the lowest points per game for the past three years or six seasons including the present. Veracruz and Leones Negros are recently promoted and haven't been in the league for three years. Hence, they have played fewer matches and their points per game number fluctuates more than that of Puebla or Chivas.

** Artwork is used under a Creative Commons license from Jonathan

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