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Chivas seeking rebound, Gallardo getting looks and more Liga MX Round 9 Talking Points

Goal.com logo Goal.com 04-03-2017

At some point Saturday night, we'll reach the halfway point of the Liga MX Clausura.

And as we reach the midpoint of the season, the Liguilla picture is no clearer than it was going in. It may be even more convoluted, with teams like Queretaro and Chiapas who were unlikely contenders in most pundits' minds before the ball started rolling now in playoff contention. And last tournament's finalists, champion Tigres and runner-up America, sit 11th and 15th in the table.

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There are still plenty of matches to come, but let's have a look at what everyone's talking about going into round 9 of Liga MX.

IT'S A BIG WEEKEND FOR ... JESUS GALLARDO

Pumas were cruising along four weeks into the season, blending a strong defense with the league's best offseason acquisition in forward Nicolas Castillo and capable wingers to form a balanced team. Heading into Jornada 9, it looks like that has come unhinged, and Pumas head into Sunday needing a win against Santos Laguna to snap a four-match winless streak in the league, a skid that extends to six games when you include CONCACAF Champions League games against Tigres.

Gallardo can't fix the issues Pumas has at the back, where Dario Veron's age is showing and center-back partner Pablo Jaquez's youth is doing the same with Gerardo Alcoba out . But he can boost his game. Gallardo missed a scoring chance against Tigres in the midweek CCL defeat and generally hasn't been the same since he was sent off against Monterrey in early February.

While it hasn't been a stunning season for the 22-year-old, his hot start apparently drew attention overseas. Fox Sports reported La Liga side Celta de Vigo is considering a move for the winger. Gallardo has the tools to be a top player, but he needs to show the form he did at the end of last season and the start of this year - as much for Pumas' success as for the potential to boost his transfer stock.

DON'T MISS ... CHIVAS VS. TOLUCA

Both Chivas and Toluca squandered opportunities to top the table last weekend and now come up against each other in what now is a No. 2. vs. No. 4 battle.

Sure, the Red Devils are tied with Tijuana and are just second on goal difference, but they didn't look like one of the league's best teams at all as they sleepwalked through a 3-1 loss to Puebla at home.

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They're headed to Guadalajara where a Chivas side that could've gone to 17 points will look to bounce back after taking a loss to Chiapas. In that game, Chivas were up 2-0 before allowing four goals to Chiapas and failing to mount enough of a late charge in a 4-3 defeat.

The game now features two teams that will still be all right on points no matter the result but could take a huge blow in morale if they suffer another difficult loss.

KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR ... MONTERREY FEELING AT HOME

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Monterrey entered Round 8 undefeated and left looking like a team that had been found out.

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Tijuana dominated Rayados en route to a 2-0 win as Monterrey coach Antonio Mohamed's former side handed his current one its first loss. This weekend brings a match against resurgent Queretaro. While it's the wrong time to face the Gallos Blancos, who have won their last three Liga MX matches, playing in the Estadio BBVA Bancomer likely will be enough for Monterrey to recover from last week's concerning showing.

Why? Monterrey has won its last four matches at home and boasts a dozen-match home unbeaten streak that goes back to a shock CONCACAF Champions League to Arabe Unido in August of 2016. Rayados have lost just three league games at the stadium since it opened in summer of 2015. Keep an eye out for the team playing a little looser than it did last weekend at the Estadio Caliente.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

"I think that despite all the draws and not having been able to get victories, the fans are responding, in a way, because they know Santos is killing it, leaving it all on the field, and I think the fans are going to keep following the team as they have been." - Nestor Araujo, Santos center back

Santos Laguna is undefeated this season, yet the Guerreros sit seventh in the table. Why? Because they've won just two matches, drawing the other six. Still, fans in Torreon have been pleased with Chepo de la Torre's side, which will look to break a four-match streak of draws with a victory Sunday against Pumas in Mexico City.

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