The Liga MX Clausura 2018 season is ready to begin its playoff round. Eight teams. One trophy. Which team is the favorite to win it all? We’ll let you know right here as we examine the odds that all eight teams have at getting a medal around their necks and lifting up the coveted trophy on May 20
Disclaimer: These are not Vegas odds or anything like that. These are the writer’s own personal predictions. Don’t try to gamble with these, and don’t blame us if you do and get it wrong!
1. Toluca (36 points)
Los Diablos Rojos were easily the most dominant team in the regular season. They only lost three games all season, and they were extremely close to the 40-point mark. The only problem is; are they too dominant? Are they just a regular-season club? Like what happened with Monterrey last season and Tijuana when Miguel Herrera was coach, the top team always fails to win the championship. The last No. 1 team to win the title was Club America in the 2014 Apertura, and that was an outlier. If there are two things Liga MX fans know in the liguilla, it’s that you almost never want to put your money on the No. 1-ranked team or Cruz Azul. Can Toluca break the cycle?
2. Club America (29 points)
No matter what die-hard Club America fans will try to have you believe, this is not the same team from years past. They had more draws than wins this season for the first time since the 2011 Apertura (when they were ranked second to last) and have really been slacking the past few Jornadas. They have all the talent in the world at their disposal but haven’t been able to make that talent translate on the field. They lacked a reliable striker, and former AC Milan man Jérémy Ménez didn't exactly live up to expectations. The good news is they can definitely turn things around in the playoffs. Las Águilas are a team that rarely disappoint in the post-season, so they’re still a force to be reckoned with.
3. Monterrey (29 points)
After making every Monterrey fan fantasize about the title last season, Antonio Mohamed’s side completely choked the final against Tigres. That loss completely threw off their confidence, and this season La Pandilla finished almost 10 points below what they finished with last season. Dorlan Pabon, Avilés Hurtado, Carlos Sanchez and Rogelio Funes Mori (due to injury) have not been in the limelight this season, and like Club America, this just isn’t the team that fans have been used to seeing.
4. Santos Laguna (29 points)
With what we’ve seen in the regular season as a whole, Santos is definitely a serious contender for the title. Djaniny Tavares led the league with 14 goals and there was a stretch where the Cape Verdean striker was downright unstoppable. However, Los Guerreros lost their spark at the wrong time. They have four losses in the past five games that include losses to Atlas, Pachuca and Pumas. At their peak, Santos could beat anybody, but they need to climb back up that mountain.
5. Tigres UANL (28 points)
This isn’t really a surprise. Honestly, it didn’t matter whether Tigres finished first or eighth in the league, if they're in the playoffs, they’re a favorite. Ricardo Ferretti has built a squad with tremendous talent and recruited an icon in André-Pierre Gignac, who always shows up in the liguilla. Tigres have real possibilities to make their fourth-straight Liga MX final, and maybe win their seventh title in their history.
6. Club Tijuana (25 points)
Xolos is the dark horse of these playoffs. They were the best defensive team in the league, only conceding 12 goals, and have a future star between the goalposts in Gibran Lajud. However, they are also the worst offensive team in the playoffs, with only 18 goals scored. The only question is: can defense win them a championship? It certainly isn’t out of the question. We’ve seen teams make it all the way to the final without technically winning a single series (Chivas last year), but will that bring this Xolos team a title?
7. Pumas UNAM (24 points)
Pumas were not one of the best teams this season by any means, in fact at one point Los Ariazules were one of the worst, but the capital club has turned things around. UNAM has one man that can help this team reach the promise land, and that’s Nicolas Castillo. When Nico is on, Pumas do great things. When he’s not, not so much. Relying on one man isn’t exactly the tactics of a champion, so that’s why Pumas has one of the weakest odds here.
8. Monarcas Morelia (24 points)
It’s just not going to happen, sorry Morelia fans. Like Pumas, Monarcas have a star striker that makes the difference in Raul Ruidiaz. Unfortunately, Ruidiaz just doesn’t look as dominant as he has in past seasons. The Peruvian only scored six goals if you don’t count penalties this season, which is not the biggest number for his talent level. But hey, Morelia is a fun team to watch, and upsets have happened many times before. They (just maybe) could dump Toluca out of the quarter-finals, but I can’t see them going further than that.