The 2016-17 Liga MX Clausura Liguilla Preview

The 2016-17 Liga MX Clausura Liguilla Preview

Manuel Veth - After a sensational final matchday in the 2016-17 Liga MX Clausura, it is time to look ahead to the first round in our Clausura Liguill

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Manuel Veth –

After a sensational final matchday in the 2016-17 Liga MX Clausura, it is time to look ahead to the first round in our Clausura Liguilla Preview.

The top eight was rounded up with Monarcas Morelia finishing in eighth place after a dramatic last minute victory against Monterrey. Morelia’s win not only meant that the club fought off relegation, but also eliminated giants Club América, and Pachuca from the playoffs. It is, in fact, the first time that Club América has failed to reach the Liguilla in the short season era.

One club that has reached the Liguilla is Tigres UANL, who have finished the season in the sixth spot after a strong finish in the Clausura. Monterrey’s last minute defeat in the meantime guaranteed Tijuana’s first place, which was the first time that a club managed to finish first in both halves of the season.

Matchday 17 brought plenty of drama to the Liga MX. This week’s first round of the Liguilla, however, promises, even more, drama in Mexican football.

Here is our Clausura Liguilla Preview for the first round:

Tijuana vs Morelia

Tijuana will go into the Liguilla as the top favourite for the title. They will now face a team that has been playing for survival all season. Morelia had to reach the playoffs to avoid being relegated to the Ascenso MX. Their do or die attitude has given Morelia the edge in the last 17 games, and although Tijuana will be the hands down favourites to win the title, it would not be a major surprise if Morelia could once again shock a major club by eliminating Tijuana in the first round.

Liguilla Preview – Player to look out for:

Raúl Ruidiaz #9 – Morelia

Raúl Ruidiaz last minute matchday 17 winner against Monterrey secured Morelia the spot in Liga MX, the Liguilla, eliminated Club América and won him the goal-scoring title. The 26-year-old Peruvian striker has been Morelia’s life insurance all season, and he will be the key player for Morelia if they want to be successful in the Liguilla.

Liguilla Preview - Morelia's Raul Ruidiaz celebrates after scoring one of his nine goals in the Clausura. (JULIO CESAR AGUILAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Morelia’s Raul Ruidiaz celebrates after scoring one of his nine goals in the Clausura. (JULIO CESAR AGUILAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Toluca vs Santos Laguna

Toluca vs Santos Laguna was also the matchup on matchday 17. That game ended in a 2-2 draw, which suggests that the quarterfinal matchup between the two will guarantee goals. Toluca are celebrating their 100 year anniversary this season, and the club has the desire to win the Clausura to celebrate their birthday in style. Toluca have also shown at times in the Clausura that they have the class to win the title. But after an early challenge to finish the league in first place, Toluca fell out of form and finished in fourth place. Santos Laguna, on the other hand, has been solid all season. Santos Laguna are one of the best-run clubs in the league and could be the dark horse to win the title.

Liguilla Preview – Player to look out for:

Jonathan Rodríguez #13 – Santos Laguna

Santos Laguna signed Jonathan Rodríguez in the summer of 2016. The Uruguayan has since become the most famous forward in Santos Laguna’s system with 12 goals in 29 Liga MX games this season. Rodríguez has scored six goals in the Clausura, and the 23-year-old will be the player to watch in the Liguilla.

Jonathan Rodríguez has been exciting for Santos Laguna this season. (OSCAR WONG/AFP/Getty Images)

Jonathan Rodríguez has been exciting for Santos Laguna this season. (OSCAR WONG/AFP/Getty Images)

Monterrey vs Tigres UANL

Morelia’s last minute victory against Monterrey did not only catapult them into the Liguilla but also set up a quarterfinal between two of the biggest rivals in Mexican football. The Clasico Regio between Monterrey and Tigres will be a fascinating quarterfinal matchup. Both clubs have the potential to win the Clausura, and both teams have the biggest budgets in the league. The matchup between the two clubs means that the two legs between the two teams will provide plenty of drama in a fifty-fifty matchup.

Liguilla Preview – Player to look out for:

Jürgen Damm #25 – Tigres

Jürgen Damm is one of the most interesting talents in Mexican football. The duel Mexican-German citizen is arguably the fastest player in the world and could be on his way to Europe sooner rather than later. His German citizenship could mean that Damm could soon be found in the Bundesliga.

According to our Liga MX club guide Jürgen Damm is one of Tigres' biggest talents. (YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Jürgen Damm is one of Tigres’ biggest talents. (YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Guadalajara vs Atlas

Guadalajara is one of the two most popular clubs in Mexico. Guadalajara, better known as Chivas (the goats), is famous for only fielding Mexican players. The club has not won the Liga MX since they secured the 2006 Apertura. The great desire of the club is therefore to finish the title drought. Chivas have won the Clausura Copa MX this season, and the management hopes that knockout experience could help the club to win a national championship finally. Atlas, who are Chivas’ regional rival, in the meantime are the secret tip to win the Clausura. Atlas have never won the national championship, and the club’s fans hope that they can not only win their first title but also eliminate their city rivals in the first round.

Liguilla Preview – Player to look out for:

Matías Alustiza #11 – Atlas

Nicknamed El Chavo, slang for a boy, Matías Alustiza is a stalwart of the Liga MX. First signed by Puebla in 2012 Alustiza has been in the league, for now, five years, and the native Argentinian has even acquired Mexican citizenship. A small and mobile forward Alustiza has scored eight goals in the Clausura and is a major reason why Atlas is a dark horse in the race for the title.

Atlas forward Gustavo Alustiza (L) celebrates after scoring a goal. (PEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images)

Atlas forward Gustavo Alustiza (L) celebrates after scoring a goal. (PEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images)

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Manuel Veth is a freelance journalist, social media junior editor at Bundesliga.com, and podcaster for WorldFootballIndex.com. He is also a holder of a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada.  Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.

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