Here your five conclusions from Quarterfinals of the 2017 Liga MX Apertura.
Monterrey flex their muscle
From the start, this was always going to be the most lopsided of all four quarterfinal matchups. Atlas were lucky to even make the Liguilla, and from the eight teams in the “Fiesta Grande”, they were perhaps the one with the weakest backbone. As such, Monterrey had a field day, winning the first leg 2-1 and the second leg 4-1. Antonio “Turco” Mohamed’s men are simply rolling at the moment and they left no doubt behind as to why they are the favorites to win the title.
Monarcas Morelia get the best out of Toluca
The fans in Michoacan are excited, and for good reason. Monarcas Morelia bounced back from a last-minute defeat to Toluca in the first leg to progress to the next round of the Fiesta Grande. Despite drawing 3-3 on aggregate, Morelia’s better positioning in the table means the Purepechas are through to the final four.
It is hard to believe that just a few months ago Monarcas Morelia were seconds away from relegation. Now Roberto Hernandez and his men are two games away from the Liga MX Final. Morelia’s gameplay wasn’t exactly the best, and they only looked competitive when sitting back and absorbing pressure. They were also quite fortunate to have the refs blow a clear offside call in the second leg’s game-winning goal. That said, Morelia have plenty of momentum in their favor, and the Estadio Morelos will be up for it when they take on Monterrey on Thursday.
Tigres pushed to the limit by León
One of the biggest criticisms of Tigres this season is that they never seem to play at full throttle. It is certainly an argument that can be made, but it is also arguable that this is as good as Tigres get. Against León, Ricardo “Tuca” Ferretti’s men were pushed to the limit, and if it weren’t for their best positioning in the table, this tie could have easily gone León’s way. Andre-Pierre Gignac missed some clear chances, but in general, Javier Aquino and Jurgen Damm’s wingplay had little to no effect and any attacking positives were simply circumstantial. In the last few seasons, Tigres have lost Rafael Sobis and Guido Pizarro and have had a tough time replacing them. As a result, Tigres just don’t have the same sting from a pair of seasons ago.
At the end of the match, coach Ferretti was rewarded with a contract extension, which is an accomplishment of its own for the legendary Brazilian coach. But in terms of what it means for this season, Tuca will need a better communal effort from his team if they want to have a chance at lifting the trophy at the end of the season.
Club America outplayed in Clásico Joven win
Stylistically, it begs to ask how a team like Club América went from playing some of the best fútbol in the league to some of the worst. Las Águilas got the job done on Sunday, eliminating rivals Cruz Azul, but leaving much to be desired in the process.
There is no question about it, Cruz Azul were the better team, but just lacked that bit of quality to beat América’s brilliant defense. Of course, a win is a win, but this resembled something out of Ignacio Ambriz’s playbook, somebody that was highly criticized for his defensive tactics during his tenure in Coapa. Club América looked far from their best, and their was nothing ambitious out of Miguel Herrera’s tactics through the course of both legs.
To Américas credit, though, you cannot discount the work of Agustin Marchesin, Pablo Aguilar, Bruno Valdez, Carlos Vargas, Guido Rodriguez, and Miguel Samudio, among others. Aerially, they were dominant, and when it came down to shutting down Jesus Mendez on the left wing, they left very little room for the Spanish winger to operate. As a consequence, Cruz Azul had no outlet of creativity, essentially shutting down all of Cruz Azul’s team.
Quality in Liguilla can still improve
There is no lack of drama when it comes to the Liguilla, but it has to be said, the quality of play could still improve. Whether it is the addition of the away goal or something else, the tendency of teams to go on the defensive has been a common theme in these quarterfinals. Three of the four ties were determined by better positioning in the table, only Monterrey actually won their tie. It almost seems like teams would rather sit back and absorb pressure than actually attack.