Three days. Nine games. One weekend. That’s how much time is left in the Liga MX Apertura regular season. Some teams are prepping for the playoffs, others are still hoping to get in and others are already looking forward to next season. Whatever the case, this is the time of year when things get interesting. Here’s what to watch for during the last Jornada before the liguilla.
Who’s In, Who’s Out?
There are five teams guaranteed to be in the liguilla: Cruz Azul, America, Pumas, Santos and Monterrey.
Two teams are basically in, but not mathematically guaranteed: Tigres and Toluca.
-Tigres: 26 Pts. +13 Goal differential Toluca: 26 Pts. +7 GD.
Three teams are battling for the last spot: Morelia, Pachuca and Queretaro.
- Morelia: 25 Pts. -1 GD. Pachuca: 23 Pts. +8 GD Queretaro: 23 Pts. -2 GD
So, How Can My Team Get In/Get Eliminated?
In: win or tie vs. Chivas
Out: lose to Chivas + Toluca beats or ties Lobos + Morelia beats Cruz Azul + Pachuca beats Leon by A LOT or Queretaro beats Necaxa by A LOT.
In: win or tie vs. Lobos
Out: lose to Lobos + Morelia beats or ties Cruz Azul + Pachuca beats Leon and/or Queretaro beats Necaxa by A LOT.
In: win vs. Cruz Azul or tie/loss vs. Cruz Azul + Pachuca lose to Leon and Queretaro lose to Necaxa.
Out: tie/lose vs. Cruz Azul + Pachuca beat Leon and/or Queretaro beat Necaxa.
In: win vs. Leon + Morelia tie/lose to Cruz Azul
Out: lose or tie vs. Leon
In: win vs. Necaxa + Pachuca tie/lose to Leon + Morelia lose to Cruz Azul.
Out: lose or tie vs. Necaxa
So, What Are the Games to Watch?
(*** = extra important)
Morelia vs. Cruz Azul | Friday, Nov. 23 | 8 p.m. EST ***
This game’s huge. Not only could it solidify Cruz Azul as the No. 1 seed with a win or tie, but a Morelia upset could potentially ruin chances for Pachuca and/or Queretaro. Morelia are two points ahead of Tuzos and Gallos Blancos, but they will have the most daunting task to achieve to stay in the playoffs. They need a win. Expect a great game.
Queretaro vs. Necaxa | Saturday, Nov. 24 | 6 p.m. EST
Rafael Puente, Jr. has done a great job with Queretaro this season. He debuted Luis Romo and Marcel Ruiz, two of Liga MX’s most impressive young stars, and he’s proven he can do a decent job at a bigger club than Lobos. With that being said, Queretaro have a tough gateway to the liguilla. They most likely won’t make it in, although miracles can happen. They do have the upper-hand against Necaxa, though.
Pachuca vs. Leon | Saturday, Nov. 24 | 8 p.m. EST
Okay, look, you didn’t hear it from me, but, this is an incredibly convenient matchup. Jesús Martínez Patiño owns Pachuca while his son, Jesús Martínez Murguia, owns Leon. Pachuca need a win, meanwhile Leon is already eliminated from contention. This could go one of two ways: Leon upsets or ties Pachuca, and Murguia steps up and proves that he can still field a competitive team against his father’s. Or, don’t be surprised if Pachuca beats Leon handily and you see a couple deals go through sending more Pachuca recruits on loan to Leon next season. I mean, don’t get me wrong, Pachuca can beat Leon fairly anyway, but wouldn’t they want to make sure Grupo Pachuca has at least one team in the playoffs?
Pumas vs. Santos | Sunday, Nov. 25 | 1 p.m. EST ***
Two liguilla-locked teams battling it out before the playoffs. Pumas is in third place, currently, with Santos in fourth. Both Pumas and Santos will be vying for the win in order to receive home-field advantage for the second legs of the liguilla, which are given to the top-4 teams in the league. Here’s another fun fact: If Pumas lose, they could potentially fall all the way to sixth or even seventh place if every team under them wins its matches. Unlikely, but not impossible. These two could also potentially match up again come playoff time.
These are the important games to watch, but, naturally, we recommend watching all of them. We may already know the majority of teams in, but we still don’t know who will face who. Any team could still take any seed, and that’s the beauty of this weekend.
You can follow Antonio on Twitter @antonio1998__