There are many ironies when it comes to the Liguilla in Mexico's Primera and one of them is the "Leader's Curse," where the first placed team overall ends up getting knocked out of the competition by the eigth and final seed in the first round. There are results that prove this to be very true. Another irony that relates to the first one is that it does not matter if you are first place or last, what matters is how "hot" you are when you arrive in Mexico's La Fiesta Grande.
Perhaps this is where Club America has the edge. The Aguilas come into the Liguilla in what is one of their best moments of the season. In their last league appearance, they served city rivals Pumas UNAM their first loss at home during the season with a 2-0 result that saw Angel Reyna consolidate himself as Mexico's top scorer with 13 goals during the Clausura 2011. Additionally, the Aguilas have only lost once in their last five league matches.
Club America is also coming off a Copa Libertadores elimination which means Reinoso's team can now fully focus on the domestic title, and the outspoken Reinoso has promised that they will play the final. Should I mention he also promised that they were going to beat Cruz Azul, Chivas de Guadalajara and Santos FC?
As for Monarcas Morelia, they beat Puebla in the final match of the season with a double from Elias Hernandez, whom is without a doubt their best player. In their last five matches of the Clausura 2011 season, Morelia managed three wins and two losses. Their biggest win was perhaps against Cruz Azul and their biggest loss was a 0-3 result against UANL Tigres.
The Michoacanos are a very solid squad and one of their biggest advantages could be how well they play away from home. Morelia was the best away team during the Clausura 2011; they won six out of their nine matches away from home, finishing with a +8 in goal differential. On the other hand, Morelia at home was average at best; they only managed three wins at home of eight league matches. They finished with a -1 in goal difference.
The Estadio Morelos could play a big factor, but not the way Morelia would hope for. Club America has a tremendous fan base in Michoacan and every time they play Morelia the crowd is usually 50-50 if not 60-40 in favor of America. The Aguilas play well at the Estadio Morelos and the last time they played there, Club America handed their opponents a 2-0 loss that broke Morelia's five game winning streak at the time.
This could be one of the most exciting matches of this Liguilla. After all, statistics show both squads at the top of the goal scoring charts with both teams netting 31 goals during the season. America, of course has the league's top scorer in Angel Reyna with 13 goals. Morelia's top scorers are Rafael Marquez Lugo and the electrifying Elias Hernandez. Both combined for 14 goals, and finishing right under them was Miguel Sabah, who finished with four goals.
On the other side of the game, Club America finished with the second worst defense in the league - behind only Estudiantes Tecos - allowing 28 goals. Though Morelia conceded four less goals than their counterparts, they will be missing their best defender in Mauricio Romero. This is a huge loss for Monarcas and a loss that could have a massive effect on the squad.
Not only is this the battle of goal scoring powerhouses but it is also a battle of Mexico's two biggest television networks. It is Televisa Vs. Television Azteca. Just in case you are not aware, Club America is owned by Televisa and Monarcas Morelia by Television Azteca. To each network, it is more than just soccer on the line, it is also the bragging rights of knocking each other out of the competition which would be beyond their wildest dreams.
For all of these reasons and more, this is a Liguilla encounter you will not want to miss.