|Goalie Carlos Acevedo has been cleared to return to action and he could be between the pipes when Santos Laguna takes on Liga MX leaders América on Saturday night. (Photo by Alfredo Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images)|
As the Apertura 2023 season in Liga MX approaches its climax, fans are eagerly anticipating the final turn, with an exciting Friday night tripleheader kicking off the action.
While marquee match-ups like Toluca at León on Saturday and Monterrey at UNAM on Sunday promise high drama, the spotlight falls on tonight's clash between Guadalajara and Puebla, a fixture that brims with intrigue.
The Chivas arrive at Estadio Cuauhtémoc carrying a unique set of challenges. Notably, star players Alexis Vega and Cristian Calderón, who had faced a three-week suspension for violating team rules, have been reinstated to the squad, albeit without traveling to Puebla.
Guadalajara's management has found themselves under scrutiny for what appeared to be a backtrack from their initial declaration of sending the offending players packing. Yet, it's essential to recognize that both Liga MX and FIFA regulations do not permit such extreme actions, leaving the Chivas with little room for maneuver.
Coach Veljko Paunovic faces a formidable task – that of reestablishing unity within the locker room and instilling a renewed sense of pride among the players. The Chivas now face the challenge of mounting a late-season surge to secure a high playoff seed, a task that won't be without its obstacles.
Cruz Azul Faces the Dueñas Dilemma:
In a saga of contract disputes and unexpected twists, Jesús Dueñas' legal battle against his former team, FC Juárez, has taken a new turn. The five-time Liga MX champions found themselves in hot water after releasing Dueñas during the summer, alleging that he had committed to a one-year contract. However, Dueñas vehemently insisted he had signed a three-year deal.
In response to Dueñas' lawsuit, FC Juárez's ownership took a surprising step by filing a complaint against Cruz Azul. They argued that the Cementeros owed them a buy-out fee for acquiring Dueñas. This implied that FC Juárez now acknowledges the validity of Dueñas' three-year contract, seeking to reap the benefits from it.
This legal wrangling places Cruz Azul in a precarious position, as they may find themselves obligated to pay out money they didn't anticipate when they initially signed the experienced player. The League HQ's ruling in this dispute will undoubtedly be a subject of great interest, as it will set a precedent for contract disputes in Liga MX.
A Flashback to Twin Contracts:
This contract dispute brings to mind the bygone era of twin contracts in Liga MX. Teams would engage players in one contract while submitting paperwork with a lower financial figure to the league office, effectively reducing their tax burden. While such practices have been curbed, this situation with Jesús Dueñas raises questions about the past and future of contract negotiations in Mexican football.
Santos Laguna's Acevedo Returns:
Turning our attention back to the action on the Liga MX fields, Santos Laguna's goalkeeper Carlos Acevedo has received medical clearance to return to action. Acevedo was once touted as the heir apparent to Guillermo Ochoa as El Tri's number one goalkeeper but struggled last season due to a shoulder injury that required surgery.
During his 16 starts last season, Santos conceded 34 goals. However, it's essential to note that the team's defensive issues extended beyond Acevedo's injury. After Santos was eliminated in the quarterfinals, management decided to shut him down for his recovery.
As Acevedo dons his gloves once again, it remains uncertain if he will be reinstated as the team's starter. Santos Laguna faces a formidable challenge against league-leading América at Estadio Azteca on Saturday night.
Aguilas Face Absences:
In the midst of the action, "Los Azulcremas," the Aguilas of América, have been hit by a double blow. Playmaker Diego Valdés is set to be sidelined for up to two months, leaving a creative void in the team. Additionally, midfielder Richard Sánchez's availability for the upcoming Santos Laguna match is in doubt.
Sánchez recently played a full 90 minutes for Paraguay in a World Cup qualifier against Argentina on October 12, but he emerged with a noticeable injury that kept him out of the October 17 match against Bolivia. Reports suggest that he is grappling with muscle fatigue, though precise details remain undisclosed. Sánchez's involvement in the upcoming game remains uncertain, making him a game-time decision at best, which could further challenge América's midfield strength.