With the matchups in Round Two of the Mexican Verano 2002, many Mexicans will be glued to their television sets for the entire weekend.
There are three contests worthy of a finals series and several other matches worth watching.
Toss out the pathetic La Piedad-Tecos and Pumas-Celaya matches, and no Mexican supporter could ask for anything more.
Game of the week:
Necaxa at Toluca.
The Mexican football gods have offered its supporters a tasty morsel this weekend. Two of the top clubs in Mexico square off in Estadio Nemesio Diez. Both sides have been amongst the league's top clubs for nearly a decade (outside of last Verano's aberrations). Necaxa and Toluca are both loaded with top talent and experience. Last week, the clubs combined for five goals and allowed none. Toluca will beat Necaxa in a tough and entertaining match in what could be a finals preview. Pick: Toluca, 2-1.
Upset of the week:
Leon at Monterrey. Monterrey losing to most clubs would not be considered much of an upset, but dropping a home-opener to Leon is ground for exile. Monterrey's offense was non-existent against lowly Pumas a week ago. Leon, who also had 90 minutes of scoreless football in their opener, have their own demons to slay. This weekend, at least and probably only one goal will fall, and the visitors from the south will celebrate it. Pick: Leon, 1-0.
Stinker of the week:
La Piedad at Tecos. Nobody missed Tecos last week when they took their bye and nobody would miss this match if it never happened. Unfortunately, the schedule calls for the each club to play every other club during the regular season, so here we are. Tecos are at home and as such should pull out a not-so-entertaining victory. Pick: Tecos, 1-0.
Atlas at Atlante
An intriguing match featuring two playoff contenders will be played at Estadio Azul. Atlas played the best match of last weekend's openers, scoring late to pull out a 3-3 draw at home. Now, they face an Atlante side ready to atone for their loss to Veracruz. Atlante's defense showed holes which Atlas offensive guru Enrique Meza could exploit. Atlante, though, lost only four matches last season, and two losses in two matches this year does not appear likely. Pick: Draw, 2-2.
Cruz Azul at Chivas
On most other weeks, this would be the best matchup in the league. Chivas' tradition and support is rivaled by only two other Mexican sides, and Cruz Azul are one of them. Estadio Jalisco should be filled to capacity for this match. Chivas might seem overmatched against Cruz Azul's talent-laden side, but Chivas seem to get up for these matches -- at least early in the season. Look for Chivas to pack in their defense and score on a couple of breakaways. Pick: Chivas, 2-1.
Veracruz at Morelia
Morelia were one bad call away from stealing a victory from Tigres at Estadio Universitario. But a referee assistant's atrocious offside call took away a legitimate Morelia goal and Tigres came back to draw, 1-1. Now, Morelia are hoping to make one bad call a moot point. Morelia's offense comes alive at Estadio Morelos, and that should be the case against one of the league's worst defenses. Pick: Morelia, 3-1.
Pachuca at Puebla
The champions are hoping to make this week's match less riveting than last week's. Pachuca overcame a 2-0 halftime deficit to beat America, 3-2. Comebacks like that, though, only come along several times a season. Now, Pachuca face a gritty, defensive-minded Puebla club who make it difficult for their opponents to score. Puebla seem content to play for a draw every week, and this week should be no different. Pick: Draw, 1-1.
Pumas at Celaya
The last time these clubs met, Celaya surrendered five unanswered goals in the last half hour as Pumas won, 5-0. This time will be different. Celaya seem semi-stable while Pumas are coming off a victory. Now, a win would seem beneficial but Pumas did not win two consecutive matches all of last season. Celaya will try to keep that stat alive for another season. Pick: Celaya, 2-1.
Tigres at America
Estadio Azteca is an imposing place to play, but not when it comes to America. Mexican sides welcome the opportunity to visit Latin America's most revered football shrine. The hosts, America, are more than happy to kick the ball around for 90 minutes with no particular rhyme or reason. Mix in a Tigres side content with scoreless draws and that is exactly what you get. Pick: Draw, 0-0.
Bye: Santos. Santos need a rest after a tough 3-3 draw against Atlas last week. The club also need to figure out how to pass the ball to each other without having it stolen by the other side. Last week, Atlas scored after keeper Adrian Martinez botched a pass from defender Luis Romero.
Team rankings: 1. Pachuca; 2. Toluca; 3. Cruz Azul; 4. Necaxa; 5. Tigres; 6. Santos; 7. Chivas; 8. Atlas; 9. Atlante; 10. Morelia; 11. Puebla; 12. Tecos; 13. Veracruz; 14. Tecos; 15. Monterrey; 16. America; 17. Pumas; 18. La Piedad; 19. Celaya