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 By Eric Gomez

Liga MX Power Rankings: Cruz Azul stays hot; Chivas, Morelia lay eggs

MEXICO CITY -- As Liga MX breaks for the first FIFA international dates of the budding season, we can mark an informal midpoint to the season with eight games down and nine to go in the Apertura 2018 campaign. 

While one team sits head and shoulders above the rest in Cruz Azul, another (Atlas) has still not won a game and just fired its manager after an offensive output of one goal in the first eight matches. Even then, all 18 teams still possess a mathematical chance to make the playoffs -- an exciting foible few leagues around the world can lay claim to.

Here are the Power Rankings after Week 8:

1. CRUZ AZUL

Record: 6W-2D-0L
Week 7 ranking: 1

A sound 4-1 victory over Veracruz wasn't the top newsmaker for Cruz Azul fans this week: rumors that the club might sign Italian midfielder Claudio Marchisio were the top draw. Though Marchisio ended up signing for Russian club Zenit, there's an air of confidence around Cruz Azul not seen for years.

2. CLUB AMERICA

Record: 4W-2D-2L
Week 7 ranking: 4

The bounce-back victory against Lobos BUAP has America going into the international date on a high note. The first-time senior national team call for budding star Diego Lainez should also serve as a double-edged sword. Time is ticking away quickly before Lainez eventually joins a European side.

3. MONTERREY

Record: 5W-1D-2L
Week 7 ranking: 3

Tough luck for Diego Alonso's side as they went ahead in the first half at Puebla, then protected a draw for most of the second half after their opponents leveled. In the game's very last play, Canada's Lucas Cavallini gave the home team the win and sent Monterrey with nothing to show for its efforts.

4. SANTOS LAGUNA

Record: 4W-2D-2L
Week 7 ranking: 2

On Sunday, Santos took an early lead at Toluca in what looked like a redux of the Clausura 2018 championship series. However, the home team came back with goals from William da Silva and Rubens Sambueza to win, despite Santos holding the lion's share of possession and shots on goal.

5. PUMAS UNAM

Record: 4W-2D-2L
Week 7 ranking: 7

Both Pumas and opponents Leon ended the game with ten players following red cards. However, after Felipe Mora scored a brace to overcome Luis Montes' opening goal and win, Pumas were not too burdened by David Cabrera's stoppage-time red.

6. QUERETARO

Record: 4W-2D-2L
Week 7 ranking: 6

On Friday night, Queretaro put on an attacking clinic against a team that had been more than decent at home in Morelia. Camilo Sanvezzo scored a brace, while Gael Acosta and Jaime Gomez finished brutal counterattacks to cement the rout.

7. UANL TIGRES

Record: 4W-1D-3L
Week 7 ranking: 10

In Tuca Ferretti's sendoff before he takes the Mexican team over on an interim basis (again), the Monterrey side overcame Atlas' first goal of the season early in the game with scores from Jorge Torres, Andre-Pierre Gignac and Enner Valencia.

8. MORELIA

Record: 3W-3D-1L
Week 7 ranking: 5

Brutal loss at home against Queretaro that, on paper, looked like a great matchup. Nine times out of ten, this game ends differently -- however, the reality is that on Friday night, Morelia laid an egg at home in an ugly 4-1 loss.

9. TOLUCA

Record: 4W-1D-3L
Week 7 ranking: 9

Good win for Toluca at home against Santos Laguna, though the ten-time Liga MX champion has been mediocre this season, trading wins for losses through the first eight games of the season. The club remains playoff contenders, but it seems less likely it'll be back in the finals after the current display.

10. PACHUCA

Record: 3W-2D-3L
Week 7 ranking: 11

Los Tuzos continue to rise despite selling their most talented player and captain Erick Gutierrez earlier this week. At home, Pachuca punished Chivas in a game that pitted two teams on hot streaks. The Goats did well to counter Franco Jara's opening goal in the first half, but were unable to come back after Pablo Lopez and Jara pulled away later on.

11. NECAXA

Record: 2W-2D-4L
Week 7 ranking: 13

In Tijuana, the visitors outshot and had more of the ball than Xolos -- none of it mattered. Miller Bolanos scored the game's only goal in the 86th minute to send Necaxa home with nothing to show for its efforts. Some offensive help for Victor Davila will be key in the upcoming transfer window.

12. LEON

Record: 3W-1D-4L
Week 7 ranking: 12

Leon showed a ton of fight on Saturday night even as they succumbed to Pumas, playing a man down for most of the second half. After Pumas manager David Patino sat back despite having the lead, Leon was close to snatching a point back on several occasions.

13. CHIVAS

Record: 3W-1D-4L
Week 7 ranking: 8

Smoke and mirrors. The best way to describe Chivas' recent success was to simply look at who they played. A cavalcade of bad teams made way for the Goats on their nine-point run before they came back down to Earth against a Pachuca team that manhandled them last weekend.

14. PUEBLA

Record: 3W-1D-4L
Week 7 ranking: 16

Big, unexpected win from Puebla against Monterrey at home last weekend. Despite the result, this is far from the season it expected following its surprising run in the Clausura 2018. There's still much more work to do.

15. CLUB TIJUANA

Record: 2W-3D-3L
Week 7 ranking: 15

Similarly, Tijuana's win over Necaxa doesn't do much in the grand scheme of things unless it is able to build on it. This has been a mostly subpar season for the border dwellers, and a case study in what blowing your roster up every six months can do to your team.

16. VERACRUZ

Record: 2W-1D-5L
Week 7 ranking: 14

The loss against Cruz Azul was expected, even after Bryan Carrasco's penalty kick leveled things early in the second half. Following a run of scandals off the field, the performance on the field has not done much to make people focus on something else.

17. LOBOS BUAP

Record: 1W-1D-5L
Week 7 ranking: 17

After Gerardo Espinoza's ouster at Atlas, is Lobos' Francisco Palencia next? After (almost) being relegated, it has been a disastrous start to the season for the Puebla side.

18. ATLAS

Record: 0W-2D-6L
Week 7 ranking: 18

The drought is over! Andres Andrade scored the team's first goal since last season against Tigres. Who's going to be responsible to deliver the team's first win since last season?

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