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Liga MX Liguilla 101: What you need to know

Photo by Azael Rodriguez/LatinContent/Getty Images

We are getting down to the most exciting part of the Liga MX season, as eight teams are set to fight it out for the 2017 Liga MX Clausura title. If you’ve been living under a rock or you are just late to the Liga MX party, here is a quick refresher of how things work in the “Fiesta Grande”.

Who didn’t make it?

Pour one out for your Americanista friends. The 12-time Mexican champs failed to make the Liguilla for the first time in 11 seasons, and joining them on their fishing trip are crosstown rivals Pumas UNAM and Cruz Azul. Interestingly enough, this marks only the second time in Liga MX history that no Mexico City teams will be in the Liguilla.

Speaking of Chilangos, the Liguilla will be missing arguably one of the leagues biggest stars in Mexico City native Hirving Lozano. Despite winning the CONCACAF Champions League, Pachuca failed to make the Liguilla, meaning we could have seen the last of “Chucky” Lozano in these parts of the world. Lozano is all grown up and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him playing in Europe next season.

Nowhere near Europe are Necaxa, Veracruz, Leon, Queretaro, Puebla, and the relegated Chiapas, who are all probably planning their vacations to Cancun as we speak.

So who did?

Take a long hard look at these matchups because one of these teams will end up lifting the Liga MX title.

Of course, the one team that all of Mexico will be looking at is Chivas. The Rebaño Sagrado have had the sad distinction of being eliminated by rivals Club America in the last two Liguillas. That said, you can’t get eliminated by America if they aren’t in the Liguilla.

The Clasico Tapatio, though, won't be an easy task for the Rojiblancos as Atlas are coming in as something of a surprise team.

Elsewhere, you have the Clasico Regiomontano, which puts together possibly the best two squads in all of Liga MX. You know Andre-Pierre Gignac? Yeah, that guy will be playing. He is pretty good.

Another guy that is pretty talented is Aviles Hurtado. The Colombian forward will be tasked with leading Xolos de Tijuana against the miracle boys of Monarcas Morelia. The Purepechas are enjoying all the momentum right now after a Raul Ruidiaz winner meant avoiding the drop in dramatic fashion and qualifying to the Liguilla with literally one of the last kicks of the game.

Finally, don’t sleep on Toluca or Santos Laguna. They have the tools to quietly win the whole thing.

Seeding and away goals

Like in most major futbol tournaments around the world, when it comes to the knockout round, matchups are decided based on regular-season performance. The highest seed this time around was Xolos de Tijuana, who became the first team to earn first place in consecutive seasons for the first time in Liga MX history. While that might sound like a good thing, note that only four teams that finished in first place have gone on to win the title in 40 tries.

Furthermore, a sixth seed has NEVER gone on to win the title. The lucky one to have finished in 51xth this season is Atlas. Feel free to laugh on this one, Chivas fans.

Once the quarterfinals are finished, the highest remaining seed then takes on the lowest, with second highest taking on the second lowest.

As for the actual format of the games, it is two matches. The lower seed hosts the first leg, while the higher seed hosts the second leg.

Away goals do count as a tiebreaker, but if there happens to be a 0-0 draw in both legs or tie in away goals, then the winner is decided by who finished as the higher seed. For example, if Xolos de Tijuana and Monarcas Morelia finish 1-1 in both legs, then it is Tijuana who progresses because they were the higher seed. Some see this format as a good thing because it forces the lower seed to score a goal. The only exception to both of these rules is the final, where if the match finishes leveled after a combined 210( two 90 minute matches + extra time) minutes of play, we go to penalties.

Enjoy

In terms of entertaining and drama, there is nothing like Liga MX. If you aren’t watching you are simply missing out. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯