Less than one month after the first portion of the Liga MX season came to a close, the 2020-21 Clausura campaign begins Friday as the Mexican soccer calendar gets back underway.
Leon were crowned Apertura winners on December 13 and will look to follow triumph up by completing a rare domestic double. As fate would have it, Los Panzas Verdes are the only club to have won back-to-back trophies in the same Liga MX season (2013-14), but a complement of clubs will be motivated and coming for their perch following such a disrupted 2020.
What TV Channel is Liga MX on?
The opening weekend of the Clausura campaign will be broadcast via TUDN, FS1 and FS2, and you can live stream Liga MX matches on fuboTV.
Liga MX Clausura Week 1
Friday, January 8
Puebla vs. Chivas Guadalajara, 8:30 p.m. ET - TUDN
Tijuana vs. Pumas UNAM, 10 p.m. ET - Fox Sports 2
Mazatlan vs. Necaxa, 10:30 p.m. ET - TUDN
Saturday, January 9
Atlas vs. Monterrey, 6 p.m. ET - TUDN
Tigres UANL vs. Leon, 8 p.m. ET - TUDN
America vs. Atletico San Luis, 10 p.m. ET - TUDN
Sunday, January 10
Toluca vs. Queretaro, 1 p.m. ET - TUDN
Santos Laguna vs. Cruz Azul, 8 p.m. ET - TUDN
Monday, January 11
Pachuca vs. Juarez, 10 p.m. ET - Fox Sports 1
TV: beIN Sports
Live Stream: fuboTV (watch for free)
Puebla and Chivas Guadalajara open the new season on Friday, when we’ll also see Apertura runners-up Pumas UNAM visit Tijuana and Mazatlan host Necaxa.
That’s before the spotlight shifts to Saturday’s slate when Tigres UANL welcome Leon in a tiff between titleholders. Tigres recently defeated Los Angeles FC to win their maiden CONCACAF Champions League crown, not to mention Ricardo Ferretti’s men still technically hold the Clausura (the contest was not held in 2020).
America will fancy their chances of a positive start at home to Atletico San Luis, while Cruz Azul may have a trickier task toppling Cruz Azul on their own turf come Sunday. The opening weekend closes with Pachuca hosting Juarez on Monday, just the third Liga MX meeting between the pair.
Tigres Fight Tooth and Nail vs. Leon
If the 2020 Apertura ended poorly for Tigres (and it did), the club went a long way improving their spirits over a short period thanks to their victory march in the CONCACAF Champions League. The triumph meant UANL have now lifted a trophy each calendar year dating back to 2014, concluding their spree of three wins across seven days with a 2-1 comeback over LAFC:
Ferretti & Co. were crowned on December 22, more than a week after Leon won the Apertura for a second time, and that extra respite could have a major impact after such a chaotic campaign. Nacho Ambriz’s side looked monstrous for much of that season and have recorded just two losses in their last 25 fixtures, a total Tigres can match in their last eight.
Speaking of Ambriz, the Leon boss will be on the touchline to lead his side for their curtain-raiser having recently overcome the coronavirus:
Veteran Tigres winger Javier Aquino will be one missed figure in Week 1 due to injury, while utility Jordan Sierra is questionable. The hosts will need all the resources they can muster to start the Clausura on the right foot, although they boast one of the better records against Leon having gone unbeaten in their last nine meetings (three wins, six draws).
Can Chivas Start Strong at Puebla?
The Puebla of a parallel universe may well have gone on to win the 2020 Apertura themselves after giving Leon a fright in the Liguilla quarterfinals. A late flourish saw La Franja creep into the playoffs on the back of their best form of the season, only missing out on a semi-final versus Chivas after a second-leg turnaround from the eventual champions.
Puebla will indeed face Guadalajara (though later than they hoped), and the pressure remains high for both teams focused on starting this new campaign on firm ground. Puebla haven’t lost in this fixture since April 2017, collecting their latest win over Chivas as recently as last August:
But there’s an air of uncertainty for Saturday’s hosts after manager Juan Reynoso was headhunted by Cruz Azul during the winter, via AS. Argentina’s Nicolas Larcamon was hired from Chilean outfit Curico Unido as his replacement, with Clausura prospects unknown under a boss who’s yet to coach in Liga MX.
They face one of Mexico’s most revered clubs in Chivas, who also made things difficult for Leon when they were last in league action but exited the Liguilla with heads held high. Three years have passed since the Billy Goats lifted a piece of silverware, and Victor Manuel Vucetich will be desperate to ensure that number doesn’t rise anymore in 2021:
Guadalajara have a difficult opening string of away fixtures, with trips to Atletico and Leon set to follow their Week 1 visit to Puebla. Those points may prove invaluable after road form was what let Chivas down in the previous campaign, though the mystery of playing Puebla under a new coach complicates their preparations somewhat.