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Copa MX Apertura 2018 Knockout Stages Preview

Hey, wake up! The group stages are over and done with, now it’s win or go home in the Copa MX. Here’s how the matchups look.

Necaxa v Toluca - Final Copa MX Clausura 2018 Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images

Zacatepec defeated Liga MX bottom-feeders Atlas, 3-2, Thursday in a surprise, come-from-behind victory that gave Los Cañeros a ticket to the next round and officially concluded the Copa MX group stages. The knockout rounds have begun! Here’s who will be fighting for a championship this time around:

Round of 16:

1. Club America vs. 16. FC Juarez

Sept. 25 - 21:00 hours

Club America v Monterrey - Torneo Apertura 2018 Liga MX Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images

Las Aguilas captured the No. 1 seed this season and they will face off with one of the best clubs the Ascenso MX has to offer. Juarez, led by former Pachuca and Santos legend Gabriel Caballero, are undefeated in Mexico’s second division and look to upset one of the Liga MX’s most talented albeit somewhat inconsistent rosters.

8. Club Tijuana vs. 9. Cruz Azul

Sept. 25 - 21:00 hours

Cruz Azul v Veracruz - Torneo Apertura 2018 Liga MX Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images

Cruz Azul is in the midst of a dream start in the league, but can they keep up the same success in the cup? In front of them is Xolos, who have not been doing so hot in the main competition (14th place) so expect them to try to get as far as they can in this one.

4. Chivas Guadalajara vs. 13. Pumas UNAM

Sept. 26 - 21:00 hours

Pumas UNAM v Chivas - Torneo Clausura 2018 Liga MX Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images

In its recent history, Chivas have performed exceptionally well in cup competitions, but the loss of former coach Matias Almeyda could prove costly. Pumas are starting to come down after their three-game undefeated high at the beginning of the Liga MX season, but will still be tough to deal with. By far, the most attractive game of the Round of 16.

5. Necaxa vs. 12. Leon

Sept. 25 - 19:00 hours

Necaxa v Toluca - Final Copa MX Clausura 2018 Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images

The reigning champions will begin the defense of their title against La Fiera, which is no easy task. Leon have not looked as fierce as in past years, but Mauro Boselli is still a monster at slotting goals in the net. Then again, so is Necaxa’s Victor Davila. Should be an entertaining and attack-minded matchup.

2. Pachuca vs. 15. Tapachula

Sept. 25 - 19:00 hours

Pachuca v Monterrey - Torneo Apertura 2018 Liga MX Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images

This game might be the most unbalanced of the knockout stages. Cafetaleros are dead last in the Ascenso MX, despite winning the league last season. Pachuca haven’t looked so hot either, and the midseason loss of captain Erick Gutierrez could wind up hurting them for a while. Still, you have to expect Tuzos to have the definitive upper hand.

7. Tigres UANL vs. 10. Club Puebla

Sept. 26 - 19:00 hours

Tigres UANL v Veracruz - Torneo Apertura 2018 Liga MX Photo by Azael Rodriguez/Getty Images

At first glance, this game might seem like a walk in the park for Tigres (and you’re probably right). But it’s still worth mentioning Puebla’s strange advantage it has had over Monterrey-based teams as of late. Unfortunately for La Franja, this game won’t be played in Puebla, where they tend to win most of their games.

3. Monterrey vs. 14. Zacatepec

Sept. 26 - 21:00 hours

Monterrey v Morelia - Torneo Apertura 2018 Liga MX Photo by Azael Rodriguez/Getty Images

After defeating Atlas in the last game of the group stages, Zacatepec aka “Chivas Juniors” will face Rayados, who last won a Copa MX two seasons ago against Pachuca. Jose Luis Higuera’s team are looking to reach the finals of the Copa for the first time since 1959, but the threat that Monterrey (as well as all other Liga MX teams) poses will most definitely overshadow the slim chance at another title.

6. Queretaro vs. 11. Dorados de Sinaloa

Sept. 26 - 19:00 hours

Dorados de Sinaloa Unveils New Coach Diego Armando Maradona Photo by Carlos Ramirez/Getty Images

Here it is, people! The moment you were all waiting for. Diego Maradona’s new team will most likely not make any noise in the league (Sinaloa is tied for last place), so it’s time for them to put all their eggs in the Copa MX basket. Maradona will travel to Queretaro for his Copa MX debut with Dorados and look to upset Los Gallos Blancos in probably his biggest test as a coach this season.

Who’s winning the Copa this season? Let us know in the comments down below!

You can follow Antonio on Twitter @antonio1998__