Manuel Veth –
With the final weekend approaching in the top flight of Mexican football Liga MX continues to spark interest around the world. The first six clubs to have qualified for the playoffs are Tijuana, Monterrey, Atlas, Guadalajara, Toluca, and Santos Laguna.
The fact that those six clubs have secured the playoffs does not, however, mean that the regular season is over for those clubs. After all the regular season standings will determine, who will face who in the first round of the Liguilla. The current standings, for example, would see first place Tijuana face off against eight-placed Tigres.
It would be a huge matchup between two of Mexico’s strongest sides. Of course, Tijuana’s regular season record would favour Xolos in this matchup. But the recent matchup between the two teams saw Tigres dominate the club from Tijuana—Los Auriazules quickly dispatched Xolos 3-0 last Saturday. The current standings would also see Monterrey, another dominant side of the Clausura, face Club América in the first round.
The other possible matchups include Atlas against Santos Laguna and Chivas against Toluca. Of course, those standings could still change. First placed Tijuana and Santos Laguna, who are in sixth place, are separated by just three points going into the final round, which means the top six spots could look very different after the final whistle sounds on the matchday 17 of the Liga MX.
Liga MX – Who will make the playoffs?
Tigres and América, of course, will have to get to the playoffs first, as they have not secured their Liguilla spot yet, and are one of five teams, whose fate will be decided on matchday 17. Club América, who are seventh with 24 points, and Tigres UANL, who are eighth with 22 points, currently occupy the last two spots. América could secure their Liguilla spot with a draw against Pachuca on Saturday; Tigres in the meantime will have to beat Querétaro if they want to be ensured a spot in the Liguilla.
But while Querétaro have nothing left to play for recent CONCACAF Champions League winners Pachuca need to secure three points if they still want to reach the playoffs. Pachuca, who are tenth in the league, are part of a pack of three clubs, which are sitting on 21 points. The other two clubs are ninth-placed Morelia, and 11th placed Veracruz.
For those two clubs, a potential playoff spot is not the only thing that remains on the line. Both Morelia, and Veracruz, in fact, are still fighting against relegation. The current relegation table has Veracruz in 16th place with 117 points accumulated over the last three seasons, Morelia in 17th spot with 115 points, and Chiapas in the last place with 114 points.
Veracruz will, therefore, travel to Tijuana wanting to secure at least one point to ensure that they will not be relegated to the second division. Morelia in the meantime have a tough match against Monterrey and will have to win the game if they want to avoid the drop to the second division. Especially, as Chiapas, which experienced crowd trouble on matchday 16, will face Atlas, who have already secured their spot to the Liguilla.
The current standings at least will make it impossible for either Veracruz or Morelia to reach the playoffs, and at the same time be relegated to Ascenso MX. It is a fine line nonetheless for both these clubs, as they could face a weekend in which they either celebrate reaching the playoffs or mourn possible relegation.
Liga MX three games to watch
With this much on the line, the Futbolgrad Network has put together the must-see games on the final weekend of the Liga MX Clausura.
Querétaro vs Tigres
Tigres faced the ultimate disappointment when they lost their third international final in a row last week against Pachuca. Los Auriazules showed a strong reaction to their disappointment with a convincing display against Tijuana. Three points against Querétaro would ensure their spot in the Liguilla, and a deep run in the playoffs would mean that fans would quickly forget the recent CONCACAF Champions League disappointment.
Monterrey vs Monarcas
While Tigres are still battling to secure their spot in the Liguilla their rivals, Monterrey will be looking to finish the regular season victory over Monarcas Morelia. Irony has it that a win against Monarcas, and a possible first place finish, could set up a Clasico Regio quarterfinal against their biggest rivals Tigres. Morelia in the meantime will try to stop Monterrey at all costs. Results last weekend meant that Morelia had to beat struggling Pumas to fight off relegation, and also stay in the playoff race. Monarcas managed just that with an emphatic 4-0 victory, and are now in the do or die position. A win against Monterrey could see them reach the Liguilla, but a defeat could mean relegation to the Ascenso.
Tijuana vs Veracruz
This is another do or die matchup. Like Monarcas Veracruz could still get relegated, but also reach the playoffs. Unlike Monarcas, however, Veracruz just need one point to fight off the drop to the Ascenso. At the same time, a victory could see Veracruz reach the Liguilla, which would be an amazing turnaround given the poor start to the Clausura. In the meantime, it would be expected that Tijuana will want to finish the season in the first place to face the weakest team in the first round of the playoffs—even if that means a potential first round clash against either Tigres or Club América.
Manuel Veth is a freelance journalist, junior social media 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.