Here are your five conclusions from the sixteenth week of play in the 2018 Liga MX Apertura.
A Friday of missed opportunities
Talk about unpredictability. It was a Friday that perfectly summed up Liga MX (and perhaps the appeal behind the league?). Pachuca and Querétaro both had a genuine opportunity to increase their chances of making the Liguilla, but both ended the week with disappointing draws and outside the top eight.
On paper, Veracruz and Atlas were supposed to be a walk in the park for Querétaro and Pachuca. But consistency in Liga MX? Forget it. Querétaro needed a late goal from Hiram Mier to rescue a 2-2 draw, while Pachuca couldn’t get past an Atlas team that almost has the same amount of goals scored as they have defeats.
It all certainly makes things complicated for both sides ahead of the last week of regular season play, and with destiny no longer in their hands, they have no other choice than to start praying.
Cruz Azul can seal first place Week 17
Not all hope is lost for Querétaro and Pachuca. Following Cruz Azul’s 2-1 comeback victory over Lobos BUAP, the Cementeros are just a point away from clinching first place in the Liguilla.
But why is this relevant to Querétaro and Pachuca? Well, Cruz Azul’s final opponent is none other than Monarcas Morelia. The Michoacanos currently hold eighth place in the league table, and if Querétaro and Pachuca are to have any chance of making the Liguilla, it is of their interest that Cruz Azul get at least a draw.
It’s also perhaps of Cruz Azul’s interest they get the result too. Home field advantage would be a big deal for Cruz Azul in the Liguilla. In fact, Cruz Azul are still unbeaten at home since moving to the Estadio Azteca, with eight wins and one draw in nine matches.
The giant has awakened
Rumors of Tigres’s death have been greatly exaggerated. On Saturday, Tigres absolutely crushed Puebla 6-1 behind four goals from Andre-Pierre Gignac to virtually seal their place in the “Fiesta Grande”. After Puebla took an early lead through Lucas Cavallini, it was game over for La Franja, who received an absolute thumping from the frenchman and teammate Eduardo Vargas.
There is no denying Tigres have the talent to win it all and this game should end all certainty about that. Tigre are getting hot again and the rest of the league should beware.
Monterrey reach Liguilla as a result draw
Speaking of teams from Nuevo León, Monterrey officially clinched their place in the Liguilla with a hard-earned 1-1 draw with Necaxa.
It certainly hasn't been the easiest season for the Rayados. They’ve struggled to make an impression at times, and a big part of it has been injury problems. This is a team so banged up that their championship prospects have taken a severe hit. Even on Saturday, star signing Rodolfo Pizarro seemed to have landed awkwardly and picked up an elbow injury.
Too often, Monterrey has shown itself to be unreliable, and that may be the case again this season. They already lost the Copa MX final to Cruz Azul a pair of weeks ago, and it will take something special in the Liguilla if they want to win the title.
Toluca must win/draw versus Lobos BUAP
The other big loser this week came in the form of Toluca. The Diablos Rojos suffered a 1-0 defeat to Pumas UNAM at the Estadio Nemesio Diez on Sunday. The result was a huge coupe for the Universitarios, who managed to qualify to the Liguilla and continue their remarkable run of games away from home.
For Toluca, the result wasn’t all that great. The Diablos Rojos now have the challenge to get a result at Lobos BUAP, with Hernan Cristante’s team now starting to feel the pressure from the teams below them. It is not an impossible task, but never say never when it comes to Liga MX.