The second to last week of the Liga MX has concluded and the playoff picture is looking clearer than ever as most teams have assured themselves a place in the Apertura 2015 Liguilla and are jockeying for better positioning in the table.
Let us examine the week that was in the Liga MX Week 16. First, a few notes, there were two games that were played in addition to the scheduled nine games that comprised Week 16. Dorados vs. Veracruz, from Week 12, and Atlas vs. Chivas, from Week 14, were played in between the week. These are games that were rescheduled until this week.
Spots 1-4 had a big shake up as, finally, Tigres were able to break into the top tier of the table, knocking León off the third spot, with a big win over Veracruz and with help of América who lost 2-1 to Monterrey. Tigres consistently had trouble with smaller teams, but were finally able to get past a struggling Veracruz team thanks to their two forwards who notched goals in the game.
Toluca managed to jump into the second spot with a quality 2-1 win over Cruz Azul and if they win their next game they are assured the second spot for the playoffs. Speaking of assured spots, Pumas managed to lock up the first spot in the league with a 2-1 win over a confident Querétaro. With this win, they also assured themselves a spot in the 2016 Copa Libertadores.
So far, the standings at the top look like: 1. Pumas 34 pts., 2. Toluca 29 pts., 3. Tigres 27 pts. (+10 Goal Differential), 4. América 27 pts. (+9 GD)
The big change in the lower Liguilla spots is that León replaced Tigres in the fifth spot, but besides that the course is the same in the 5-8 spots. León’s chances to host the return leg in the first round of the playoffs took a big hit when they lost to Pachuca 3-2, thanks to a late goal by Cristian Penilla. With the Tuzo’s win over León, they inch ever closer to the Liguilla and will have to win, and get help from other teams, to make the final eight.
[h/t: Alexis Tubay Chávez]
Puebla and Chiapas both kept their chances looking good going into the last week of the season with 2-1 and 3-2 victories, respectively. Luis Gabriel Rey scored the game winner early in the game for Puebla, meanwhile Silvio Romero scored a brace for Chiapas to give them the three points.
Veracruz, on the other hand, lost a crucial game to Tigres at home on the weekend but benefitted from a nil-nil draw against Dorados during the week to give them a vital point that (so far) is keeping them in the playoff hunt.
As of now the bottom tier looks like: 5. León 27 pts. (-2 Goal Differential), 6. Chiapas 26 pts. (+3 GD), 7. Puebla 26 pts. (+2 GD), 8. Veracruz 24 pts.
The pool of teams that are still mathematically in playoff contention was reduced by one as Chivas defeated Atlas 1-0 in their replay of the game cancelled by Hurricane Patricia. With this loss Atlas are eliminated from making la Liguilla, and now spots 9-12 are still technically alive.
Things were not looking good for Chivas and Atlas after Week 16 play as they both lost crucial games. Chivas lost embarrassingly to relegation threatened Dorados 2-1 and Atlas dropped their game to Chiapas by a goal as well. Querétaro also suffered a crushing defeat to the league leading Pumas, and will have to play for their playoff lives in the last week.
On the other hand, Monarcas and Monterrey increased their chances of making the playoffs as they scored big wins this week. Monarcas defeated lowly Santos 3-2 and Monterrey upset heavily favored América by a score of 2-1, and now both sit at 23 points within striking distance of the Liguilla.
Week 17 Matches
(Teams I predict to win are in bold, predicting a draw if no teams bolded)
*Note: (If Querétaro, Monarcas, Pachuca, Monterrey, and Chivas lose their games they will be eliminated from Liguilla contention)
Querétaro vs. Puebla
Tijuana vs. Atlas
América vs. Pumas
Tigres vs. Cruz Azul
León vs. Dorados
Monarcas vs. Veracruz
Chiapas vs. Pachuca
Toluca vs. Monterrey
Chivas vs. Santos