The final week of the Liga MX season was a wild one, one that led to teams jumping up and dropping down in positions. But now the eight teams are set to go and we will see how the quarterfinals of la Liguilla of the Liga MX was decided on the last day of the season.
#1 Pumas vs. #8 Veracruz
Pumas amassed one more point with a draw against América, which saw the league leaders finish with 35 points. They had already secured the league’s top position a few weeks back so the result of this past week was a formality.
Veracruz, meanwhile, had their fate in their own hands as they had to beat Monarcas (which they did by a score of 2-1) and had to have some help from Monterrey and Querétaro to achieve the last spot in the Liguilla. Monterrey lost to Toluca and Querétaro drew with Puebla and Veracruz’s win over Morelia was the securing factor in achieve eighth place.
On paper, this doesn’t look like much of a matchup as Pumas has the best offense out of all the teams in the Liguilla and Veracruz has the second worst. Pumas is coming off their best season in over four years, when they finished in second and won their last championship, and they don’t look like they are going to crumble against Veracruz.
#2 Toluca vs. #7 Puebla
Toluca secured the second spot in the league with an emphatic 3-1 win over Monterrey, ending los Rayados’ playoff hopes in the process. Puebla managed a point with a draw over Querétaro and also ended their playoff hopes with that result.
This matchup will be an interesting one as Puebla has not made the Liguilla since the 2009 Apertura season, which was six years ago. Toluca last won the championship in the 2010 Bicentenario Season and have the talent to make a run for their 11th championship overall. The key in this matchup will be Toluca’s defense and how they handle Puebla’s key scorers in Luis Gabriel Rey and Christian “El Hobbit” Bermúdez.
#3 León vs. #6 América
León managed to hold down the third spot in the league with an easy 3-0 win over relegation leading Dorados. Meanwhile, América spectacularly managed to go from contender for the top spot to the sixth place in the Liguilla.
However, this is the most challenging matchup for both teams as León and América have won four out of the past six championships in the last three years. So both teams know how to win and both teams will use that knowledge to try and get past their opponents as they try to advance to the next round. To me this one is too close to call as both teams are equal in talent and both have the same chance to end their season as champions. This is the matchup to watch, for sure.
#4 Chiapas vs. #5 Tigres
Chiapas have come from out of nowhere to nab the fourth spot in the Liguilla thanks to a string of four consecutive victories in the league. They have finished the league with 29 points, thanks to a come from behind victory over Pachuca, 3-2. Truly, a Cinderella story in the Liga MX as Chiapas has found it’s spark on offense as of late to achieve this great feat.
Meanwhile, Tigres are surely kicking themselves as they finished their season with a 0-0 draw with Cruz Azul to finish with 28 points and in fifth position. Tigres has squandered chances all season to jump into the top four positions and they must now suffer the consequences as they are to play the return leg in the humid jungles of Chiapas.
This matchup will feature a team that was once known as San Luis and was sold and relocated to Chiapas and a team that last won the championship in the Apertura 2011. The inexperience in the Chiapas squad might come as a disadvantage to them and, not to mention, that Tigres has André-Pierre Gignac, who has found his scoring spark in coming to Mexico. We will have to see how this unfolds, but I can see Tigres pulling off the “upset” in advancing to the next round.