Last updateFri, 11 Mar 2016 6pm

Chivas on ‘precipice’ of relegation as new soccer season kicks off

The Mexican soccer league, Liga Mx, restarts this weekend with both Guadalajara teams looking to improve on an unexceptional 2015

Neither side reached the playoffs in the six-month Apertura 2015 tournament and while Chivas triumphed in the less prestigious Copa Mx, the nation’s most supported team will need to improve dramatically to avoid being dragged into a “relegation” battle in the January-May Clausura 2016 tournament.

Each year, one team from the 18-team league descends to the second-tier Ascenso MX division, where the Leones of the Universidad de Guadalajara currently reside.  This ignominy is decided on a rather complicated system based on performance stats over the past three years.  Chivas hover near the bottom of this table along with the likes of Morelia and Puebla.   A poor start to the season will mean several months of nail-biting tension for Chivas’ many fans, as the “dreaded drop” closes in.

Chivas loosing top tier status would not only be a huge blow to fans and owner Jorge Vergara – allegedly seeking a buyer for the team – but dent finances of other teams in the league since games the against the Chivas usually tend to be sellouts given their wide support around the country.

Making matters worse is that Chivas have lost several key players over the winter break.  Perhaps the most serious departure is that of star midfielder Marcio Fabian, who has been traded to Bayer Leverkusen in Germany, where he will team up with local hero Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez.   Replacements have been signed, however, and Vergara is optimistic that the season will be a positive one, with experienced Argentine coach Matias Almeyda at the helm.

Chivas play their home games at the modern Estadio Omnilife on the western outskirts of the metro area, while Atlas play in the Estadio Jalisco on the Calzada Independencia.

Here is the schedule of games in January and February:  Sunday, January 10, 5 p.m. – Chivas vs. Veracruz, Estadio Omnilife. Saturday, January 16, 8:30 p.m. – Atlas vs. America, Estadio Jalisco. Sunday, January 24, 5 p.m. – Chivas vs. Tigres, Estadio Omnilife. Saturday, January 30, 8:30 p.m. – Atlas vs. Pumas, Estadio JaliscoSunday,  February 7, 5 p.m. – Chivas vs. Toluca, Estadio Omnilife. Sunday, February 14, 5 p.m. – Chivas vs. Leon, Estadio Omnilife. Saturday, February 20, 8:30 p.m. – Atlas vs. Pachuca, Estadio Jalisco. Sunday, February 28, 5:30 p.m. – Chivas vs, Tijuana, Estadio Jalisco.

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