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.