Clausura 2015 Preview

After the long winter break, Mexican soccer is back! No longer will the scraps of minutes for Mexicans in Europe solely fill the void in our hearts. It's back and ... probably about the same as where we left it. Where we left it was with a complete debacle. The Apertura 2014 final was a mess but a significant mess. Club America took the reins alone at the top as the team with the most titles. We pick up with the usual mess of coaching swaps, massive player transfers and general changes of direction. Considering all of these factors and the usual volatility of the league's standings the intrigue never wanes. There will be no shortage of drama this time around. Oh and did I forget to mention, Chivas is involved in a relegation battle?

Here are some predictions and things to look for this time around ...

1) Title Race

There's little reason to pick any other team than Club America for the Clausura title. They were the best team in the Apertura season and captured their historic twelfth title. America followed this up by ravaging the rest of the league of some of its best talent. They are the clear favorites for the title. With that being said, I'm going to go with the Rayados of Monterrey. The Liguilla is a roll of the dice and I expect Monterrey to be in the mix at the end.  

2) Top Scorer Prediction

I hesitate to select a striker on a new team, but I'm making unwise choices today, apparently. Normally it takes time to mesh with new playing partners and a new direction from the manager. My guess is that this will matter little for Dario Benedetto. Benedetto is one of the most-talented strikers in the league. I expect him to improve upon his nine goals with Tijuana now with better service and increased opportunity (even with Peralta and Darwin getting their shares).

3) Team on the Rise

While their perennial-place among the elite of Mexican soccer hardly makes them true underdogs, their recent years make greater successes a surprise. Pumas have improved out of their slump in previous seasons and look to be a team on the rise. With a late season push, they were able to squeeze into the Liguilla this past season. I expect them to take it a bit further this time around and be a serious threat.

4) Relegation

This year's relegation battle should be a great one. With a pretty clear cut four way battle for the ignominious prize, it's safe to assume that relegation will still be in question in the final weeks of the season. Much of the focus will rightly be on Guadalajara and their fight to stay away from the Ascenso. My best guess would be another team from Guadalajara will be heading back down. Of the four teams involved the Leones Negros are simply the one I trust the least. They seem to be most flawed in this group of flawed rosters. Veracruz will likely give them some hope, but I do like the way Veracruz has defended in recent seasons. I think the trend continues.

5) Must-see team

I said it last season and it remains true this time around. If you are going to make a point to watch any one team, it really should be Atlas. The dynamic talent infused throughout this roster make them a technically sound squad with the flair to please the eye. The team boasts a solid mix of cagey veterans with immensely talented-youth. For supporters of the Mexican national team, Arturo 'Poncho' Gonzalez is certainly someone to keep an eye on. Gonzalez could be instrumental for Mexico in the near future. Paraguayan forward Luis Caballero is another to watch. I expect great things from Caballero in his second season with the club.


 

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