Blanco’s return to Estadio Azteca highlights Liga MX weekend

Cuauhtemoc Blanco will return to face his former Club America when Puebla visits the Estadio Azteca on Saturday.

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Week three of Liga MX’s 2015 Clausura campaign is upon us and there is one player dominating the buildup: Cuauhtemoc Blanco.

Outside of Mexican football, the fact "El Cuau" is still playing in the first division makes no sense. It is an irrational aberration: a 42-year-old who is clearly overweight, very slow and greatly struggles to complete 90 minutes.

But in the Mexican context it does make sense. Blanco is a bona fide icon — like it or not — and still has the ability to draw fans, spark a positive reaction from those around him and hasn’t lost the ability to strike a clean ball from set pieces. That’s enough to justify him still playing for Puebla, or he simply wouldn’t be there.

Blanco says what he feels, speaks like someone from one of Mexico City’s hardest barrios and doesn’t bite his tongue. He has had little spats with Omar Bravo and Rafa Marquez in recent months, has said he wants Chivas to do down and still gives good interviews wherever he goes.

Named after the last Aztec emperor, Blanco is the type of character that perhaps Mexican soccer and global football lack at the minute, with stock answers and PR training keeping the lid on headline-making straight-talkers. According to recent reports, he’ll be heading straight into politics after he retires from the field. That should be unmissable.

But before that, this Saturday, Blanco and relegation struggler Puebla face his beloved Club America in the Estadio Azteca. It is almost certainly the last time he’ll play in the stadium, at least in a competitive capacity.

Some of the most memorable events that have happened in Blanco’s career have taken place in the stadium; from the 1999 goal against Chivas goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez, the huge fight he sparked in the Copa Libertadores in 2004, lifting the 2005 Clausura championship and the show-reel of bizarre, brilliant and even tasteless celebrations.  

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Love him or hate him, he’s been entertaining and you wouldn’t bet against Blanco writing one final chapter in his story with Club America inside the famous World Cup stadium this Saturday.

Can Pumas react without Daniel Luduena?

The news Pumas playmaker will miss two months of the Clausura season will have been a bitter blow for coach Guillermo Vazquez.

Last weekend against Chivas, a Luduena-less Pumas lacked direction going forward and Sunday’s home game against Toluca will be another stern test. What Vazquez needs to see is one of the new signings like Jonathan Ramis or Silvio Torales really step up a be a difference-maker.

These are strange times for Pumas. One of the Liga MX’s "big four," the team has failed to really nail down an identity or style since the Clausura 2011 championship win.

Chivas won last weekend against Pumas, but Leones Negros are increasingly difficult to beat and will look to frustrate and hit on the counter.

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The thing is that Queretaro is doing quite well — one win and one tie — so far this Clausura. It’s also worth pointing out that last season, Gallos Blancos actually lost places in the league after Ronaldinho joined. His presence boosted the team off the field, but not in terms of points.

With that hanging over him, Ronaldinho could really do with a positive start to 2015 with Queretaro. After all the time off he got over the offseason, he owes the club on the field.

But Cruz Azul has been consistent, solid and is once again nearing its best following an awful second half of 2014.

The Luis "Pirata" Fuente is sold out for La Maquina’s visit on Friday, expectations are high and we should get some answers on whether Veracruz is the real deal this Clausura.