Friday, August 3, 2007

Apertura begins

After a long few months where the Mexican national team garnered unmolested national attention, the league will now take its turn as the focal point in Mexico. The Apertura 2007 campaign will start today as defending champions Pachuca visit Tecos.

If you follow the Mexican league like I do, we are both likely in the same boat, excited at what will surely be another dramatic season. But if you don't follow the league, I'll try and keep you up to speed with a very entertaining league and brand of football.

I filed my Apertura 2007 preview to SI.com late last night and I'll post that link when it's published.

In the meantime, some basics to know while following the league:

** The league is divided up into three groups of six teams apiece. There is really no rhyme or reason to the groupings; they are not static like MLS. Before each Apertura campaign, the teams are divided up in groups that remain the same for the Apertura and Clausura campaigns. For the next two seasons, these will be the groups:

Group 1: Pachuca, Pumas, Toluca, Tecos, Puebla, Jaguares
Group 2: America, Atlante, Atlas, Monterrey, Santos, Veracruz
Group 3: Chivas, Cruz Azul, Tigres, Morelia, San Luis, Necaxa

** The season is roughly 17 weeks long; each side plays each other team in the league once; for the Clausura 2008 season, the teams will switch venues but the calendar remains the same, for instance Tecos will visit Pachuca in the opening week next season.

** The playoff structure is a bit confusing but for the most part the top two teams in each group advance, then the two teams with the most points afterward also quality. There are wild-cards and things that are the confusing parts but we'll leave that out for now.

** Mexico used to play one long season but the 1995-96 season was the last such campaign. The first short season was the Invierno 96 season won by Santos. Since then, only one team has repeated as champions: Pumas won both the Clausura and Apertura seasons in 2004. History suggests, then, that Pachuca won't repeat.

** There's relegation in Mexico, but it takes into account the last five seasons and a percentage system is used. A team's points over the last five seasons are divided up by games played and the team with the lowest percentage following the Clausura seasons are relegated. Santos has the lowest percentage with 71 points from its last 68 games. Veracruz, Tigres and Tecos are next in line. Pachuca, America, Cruz Azul and Toluca are at the top so their pretty safe, not that teams like that would face relegation any time soon.

** All the games are televised. Tonight's will be on Azteca America. Pretty much, if you have Azteca America, Telefutura, Galavision and Univision, you're set.

There you have it. A brief, brief overview of the league. I'll keep you up to speed with the goings on in Mexico both here and on SI.com.

12 comments:

Steve in FMTX said...

Thanks for the breakdown, Luis. Being only familiar with the UEFA leagues, I was wondering if any other soccer/football leagues around the world had playoffs to determine a seasonal championship like MLS does. Honestly, I was thinking that (playoffs) was a strictly US characteristic.

Steve in FMTX said...

One more comment...can you provide a similar breakdown of how the Copa Libertadores works? I understand that may be a book instead an article...

Anonymous said...

Pachuca-the San Antonio Spurs of Mexican futbol...

Just like the Spurs-small market, low profile, and big winners...

The Manly Ferry said...

Holy moly. It seems like Superliga (as well as the CONCACAF Champions Cup) may be working in reverse: I may start watching the Mexican league when MLS takes time off. Sure, I can't understand the commentary, but I understand the game, right?

Didn't know the mechanics of the Mexican League were so damned tricky, though. I'll be relying on you, Bueno, to make sense of this business...

elopingcamel said...

Thanks for the insight!

Anonymous said...

Thanks LB that was helpful. Can you comment on selection of teams that move forward into the international club tournaments? We always attend the Copa Libertadores qualifying at HDC in January but I am not clear on how the teams are selected and how it relates to the Apertura and Clausura seasons.

Daniel said...

Do you think the Mexican League will ever try a relegation format like Europe's?

Anonymous said...

Can you and Andrea do us some justice and make sure the TV/Radio media pronounces Blanco's name correctly. If anything tell them to call him Temo or Cuah. I'm sick of hearing how they are butchering his name. I think Allen Hopkins is great but great jesus jones he is butchering the name.

El G├╝ero said...

Tonight's game will also be broadcast live on ESPN Deportes for fools like me who don't have Azteca America!

http://sports.espn.go.com/espntv/espnNetwork?networkID=34

El Chueco said...

I read your article on CNNSI with regards to the Apertura tournament. Very good article! Apparently, the "percentage" (porcentaje) relegation issue is very controversial in Mexico. Most commentators dislike it although a few say that it keeps teams on their toes and takes into account consistency since it's based on several seasons.

I'm looking forward to seeing Tigres, Morelia and Atlas. I'd like to see one of those teams surprise everyone and take the tournament.

JT (Chicago) said...

LB, thanks for your posts here. i've been trying to get a few MLS fans to start watching Mexican futbol and a few have become more interested, in part due to your work. Great stuff.

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