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Mexico Soccer

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Mexican soccer season back again; Chivas favourite to winBy Carlos Rodriguez (CP) â€" 8 hours agoMEXICO CITY — The Mexico soccer season is set to start again.

If it seems like it just ended, that's because it did.Pumas defeated Pachuca on May 31 in the playoff to end the so-called Clausura season.

The Apertura season opens Friday with Estudiantes of Guadalajara facing Pachuca.Like most Latin American countries, Mexico breaks up the season into two halves, with clubs also playing in club competitions in South America and the North, Central American and Caribbean region.Chivas is seen as the favourite for the Apertura title.

The Guadalajara club has all of its starters back, and also sees the return of Mexico national team striker Omar Arrellano who was injured most of last season.

Mexico's most popular club America should also make a push.Chivas opens against Toluca on Sunday.The club with the most pressure is America - probably Mexico's richest team - which has not lifted a trophy in two years.

America finished 14th of 18th last season and barely escaped relegation, which would have been a national scandal.The club has spent US$13 million in the off-season buying players - defender Aquivaldo Mosquera of Colombia, Argentine forward Daniel Montenegro and Brazil midfielder Rosinei.

Jesus Chucho Ramirez, who won the under-17 World Cup in Peru 1995, returns as the coach."We should go up," club president Michel Bauer said.

"We know the expectations attached to this shirt and that our millions of fans demand results."Money may not do the trick.America spent $25 million buying players during last season's break between the Apertura and Clausura, and it made little difference."The solution is not just one player, we're a team," Ramirez added.Pumas have taken a completely different approach.

They are going with the same team that defeated Pachuca in the two-legged playoff in May.

Pumas won the first leg 1-0 and drew 2-2 in the second to win 3-2 on aggregate.

The title was Pumas' sixth Mexican championship."We want to be even better," said Paraguay forward Dante Lopez.

"We know it will be difficult - we're aware of this - but we know if we put in the effort we can do it."Cruz Azul should also be a contender.Cruz Azul finished last in the standings for the first time, which has forced a shake-up.

Alberto Quintano of Chile comes in as the new general manager and Enrique Meza takes over as the news coach."I want to be champion," Meza said.

"If you ask me now, I'd say I want to be champion.

But promising what I can't deliver is something I don't like to do."Cruz Azul, which takes on Jaguares on Saturday, is looking for its first title since the winter of 1997.Chivas has fewer question marks.Chivas spent heavily in the last off-season, but is staying pat this time.

The team is built around forwards Omar Arellano and Javier Hernandez, two of Mexico's best young strikers.Saturday's other matches are Ciudad Juarez versus Monterrey, Tigres versus Puebla and Atlas versus Pumas.

On Sunday, Morelia plays Santos.Copyright © 2009 The Canadian Press.

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