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Cruz Azul hopes to end Liga MX title drought in 2019

Cruz Azul's Milton Caraglio (L) fights for the ball with America's Victor Aguilera (C) during the Liga MX's Apertura tournament final on Dec. 16, 2018, at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, Mexico. EPA-EFE FILE/Jose Mendez

Cruz Azul’s Milton Caraglio (L) fights for the ball with America’s Victor Aguilera (C) during the Liga MX’s Apertura tournament final on Dec. 16, 2018, at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, Mexico. EPA-EFE FILE/Jose Mendez

EFE

Cruz Azul, which has not won a Liga MX title in more than 21 years, hopes to turn things around when it kicks off its 2019 Clausura tournament campaign this week against Puebla.

“The goal will be glory or nothing,” Cruz Azul manager Pedro Caixinha said Thursday, adding that he was confident that his club would win the Clausura tournament and successfully defend its Copa MX title.

Cruz Azul, which won its last Liga MX title in 1997, begins its quest for a championship on Friday against Puebla in the Clausura tournament, which ends on May 26.

Cruz Azul was the No. 1 seed heading into the Apertura tournament playoffs in December, but the club’s offensive production fell sharply after the regular season.

Club America defeated Cruz Azul 2-0 on a brace double by Edson Alvarez, winning the Liga MX Apertura title.

Cruz Azul added Uruguayan forward Jonathan Rodriguez, Peruvian holding midfielder Yoshimar Yotun and Mexican midfielders Orbelin Pineda and Aleis Gutierrez to the roster to bolster an offensive unit that sputtered in the Apertura semifinals and final.

Although Cruz Azul has the better roster and is the favorite, the match against Puebla will be a good test because Caixinha’s squad has had less practice time due to its appearance in the Apertura final.

Caixinha made it clear that he wants to get off to a good start against Puebla manager Enrique Meza’s squad to rid his club of the bitter taste of losing to America.

The Clausura tournament features 18 weeks of regular-season competition, with the top eight clubs advancing to the playoffs.

Defending champion America will make its tournament debut in March against Necaxa.

America is expected to have the same players who won the Apertura title back on the field, but the club could lose Mexico’s most promising young soccer player, 18-year-old holding midfielder Diego Lainez, whose services are being sought by Dutch club Ajax.


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