Two playoff spots still up for grabs as the Apertura 2019 resumes this weekend following the November FIFA break.
Plenty of drama remains as the Liga MX prepares to kick off its final regular-season weekend. Seven teams are fighting to prolong the Apertura 2019 and five others are jockeying for a better playoff seeding. Only Santos – with the No. 1 seed clinched – can relax, certain of its position in the Liguilla.
The FIFA break is over and it appears that no team was adversely affected – León had five players out on international duty and Angel Mena might be fatigued after playing twice for Ecuador, but that’s really it. So we’re going to take a quick look at four games with playoff implications, two of which could be decisive.
Liga MX prepares to print final playoff ducats
León at Tijuana
The Xolos have a difficult task on Friday night. They host one of the league’s best road teams knowing they probably have to win to keep alive their postseason dreams. The remaining playoff hopefuls play on Saturday or Sunday, so they’ll have the advantage of knowing exactly what they must do.
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You see, a draw here could get the Xolos into the playoffs but only if Atlas defeats Monterrey, the Chivas fail to win and the Pachuca-UNAM match ends in a tie. So Tijuana knows it must find a way to defeat the Esmeraldas at the Estadio Caliente.
This will be no easy task as León is the second highest-scoring team in the league (36 goals scored) while the Xolos have the league’s second-worst defense (34 goals allowed). The visitors also have a chance at claiming the No. 2 seed. If Necaxa defeats Puebla earlier Friday, then the Esmeraldas will be playing to nab the No. 3 seed. Adverse results could see León sink to a No. 7 seed. Coach Ignacio Ambriz will want to avoid that.
Morelia at Querétaro
The visiting Monarcas could make the playoffs with a loss (unless Tijuana makes up a 16-goal differential … not likely) and a tie clinches at least a No. 7 seed in the Liguilla. But Morelia has been one of the hottest teams in Liga MX, racing down the back stretch with a 7-3-2 record since Pablo Guede took over for Matchday 6.
Querétaro has stumbled a bit of late, going 0-1-2 since a 3-0 win over the Pumas on Oct. 25. The Gallos Blancos have fallen out of the top 3 and could sink to the No. 7 seed with a loss. On the other hand, a win could allow them to claim the No. 3 seed. This is a game coach Víctor Manuel Vucetich will not take lightly. He’ll want his Gallos Blancos to enter the Liguilla on a positive note.
Atlas at Monterrey
For the Rayados of Monterrey, it’s simple – win and you’re in. A draw would suffice but only if Tijuana loses, the Pachuca-Pumas game ends in a draw AND the Chivas do not defeat Veracruz by more than 3 goals.
For the visiting Zorros, it doesn’t get more complicated. Atlas must beat the Rayados in Estadio BBVA Bancomer by at least 8 goals. Also, Tijuana must lose, the Pachuca-Pumas match must end in a draw AND the Chivas must lose to or tie Veracruz. So … not likely.
Pumas at Pachuca
This Saturday night clash could be a real thriller if the Xolos fail to win on Friday AND if Monterrey does not beat Atlas. In this scenario, the winner of the 9 p.m. match at Estadio Hidalgo will snag the No. 8 seed in the playoffs.
A draw would eliminate both teams regardless of other results, so this game would likely produce 90 minutes of high-pressure attacking. If the Xolos win, or if Monterrey wins, this game could be a rather glum affair.