Here your five conclusions from the sixteenth week of play in the 2017 Liga MX Apertura.
Cruz Azul’s season hangs in the balance despite win
As so often is the case in Liga MX, with one week to go in the regular season, there is still plenty to play for when it comes to Liguilla places. One of those teams still fighting for a spot in the “Fiesta Grande” is none other than Cruz Azul. The Cementeros picked up a huge lifeline on Friday when they defeated Monarcas Morelia 2-1 but are currently ninth in the league table and need a combination of results to go their way if they want to have any chance of making the Liguilla. Paco Jemez’s boys suffered a downturn in play in the latter part of the season and it is proving costly, as they now run the real risk of missing out of the Liguilla for a seventh straight tournament.
Pachuca crash out of contention
Many will be quick to point out at the failures of Chivas and Pumas this season, but one team that has to go in that category is Pachuca. The Tuzos sealed their elimination from the 2017 Liga MX Apertura with a 1-0 defeat to Queretaro on Saturday.
To put it simply, life after Hirving Lozano hasn’t been easy for the Tuzos. Keisuke Honda, acting as the surprise signing of the campaign, has been quiet, and Pachuca just haven’t been able to organize themselves into the team that a few seasons ago won the league title against Monterrey. Manager Diego Alonso’s status for next year is an unknown, and perhaps it is time to worry if you are a Pachuca fan.
Club America decline continues
Club America were denied again at home, this time settling for a draw against Puebla on Saturday. Las Aguilas have just one win in their last five games in all competitions, and they are looking like a vastly different team than the one from a few weeks ago. Of course, some of it has to go down to overconfidence, but the fact of the matter is they just haven’t been playing at the same level they demonstrated earlier in the season. The Liguilla is a completely different tournament, though. If Miguel Herrera can motivate his team to do different, there is no denying Club America have enough talent to lift the title.
Atlas take the Clasico Tapatio
As Clásico Tapatíos go, there was little to get excited about Atlas and Chivas meeting on Saturday. Sure, Atlas are right in the middle of things for a place in the Liguilla, but things just aren’t the same when Chivas are playing some of their worst futbol in decades.
From the start, there was a feeling of inevitability in the air, like no matter what happened in the match defeat was unavoidable for the Rebaño. Suspicions were confirmed when Atlas ran to a 2-0 lead before the hour-mark, and although here was a scare when Rodolfo Pizarro scored the 2-1, the Rojinegros were able to hang on to stay eighth in the table. The Rojinegros now control their own destiny, and their final league games is against none other than Pachuca, where a win would be enough to seal a place in the Liguilla.
It’s a bit anticlimactic that just when the tournament is starting to get interesting, we have to have the international break. For teams like Club America, this international break can be a good way to regain some of that team chemistry, and for others, two weeks of full planning doesn’t hurt, especially if you still have a chance of making the Liguilla.