Here are some of the main takeaways from the eighteenth week of play in the 2019 Liga MX Apertura.
Club América finish regular season with Veracruz thumping
Club América will go into the Liguilla well rested and without a worry in the world after Las Águilas officially sealed their place in the “fiesta grande” with a 5-0 win over Veracruz. Coincidentally, las Águilas’ bye week happens to be during the last game of the regular season, which means Miguel Herrera’s men will arrive to the Liguilla with three full weeks of rest and ready to go. For a team that has struggled with injuries through the course of the season, this is like music to América’s ears and even gives the team’s international players a chance to have an extra week of readaptation following the international break.
Of course, there is always the risk the team loses momentum given the three weeks of inactivity, but momentum has never been a problem with América. This is América we are talking about. They are the most winning team in Liga MX history for a reason.
Destiny is in Monterrey’s hands
Things couldn’t have gone better for Monterrey this week as their 4-0 win over Xolos de Tijuana was enough to catapult them all the way up to eighth place in the league table with just a game left to play in the regular season. It has been an incredibly difficult season for los Rayados, but as fate would have it, all Antonio “Turco” Mohamed’s team needs is another win to make the Liguilla.
Make no mistake about it, this was arguably Monterrey’s biggest win of the season, Sure, the early red card helped, but Xolos’ late season collapse is no fault of los Rayados, who have to like their chances against Atlas in two weeks.
If Monterrey do manage to qualify to the Liguilla, you can be rest assured there won’t be too many teams who will want to face los Rayados. In addition to having one of the deepest squads in all of Mexico, Mohamed knows a thing or two about winning Liguillas. He has already done it twice in his career as manager.
Chivas keep their Liguilla hopes alive
If hope is the last thing that dies, Chivas have a lot of hope left in the tank. For starters, Chivas is playing some great football right now, and their front three of Alexis Vega, Alan Pulido, and “Chofis” Lopez is looking real good. In the case of Alan Pulido, the Mexican striker is now second in the scorers table with 10 goals.
The problem is that all of this might end up being for nothing. In essence, even after beating Querétaro 3-2, Chivas need a miracle to make the Liguilla. In total, Chivas need a win and three other results to go their way, one of which includes a draw between Pumas and Pachuca. Weirder things have happened, no doubt, but if you are a betting person, you might want to put your money elsewhere.
The other talking point here is that because the team has done so well under Luis Fernando Tena, that sporting director Ricardo Pelaez might consider keeping him until next season. Rumor has it that Diego Alonso was Peleaz’s preferred candidate, but money has got in the way. Tena is a proven manager, and clearly something is working in his favor.
Pumas blow their chance once again
You gotta give it to Pumas for continuously finding ways to ruin their season. You’d think that after playing at home and against arguably one of the worst sides in Liga MX that the Universitarios would find themselves in the driver’s seat to make the Liguilla. But alas, that is not the case.
It’s just been that kind of season for Pumas, and in some ways, their disappointing draw versus FC Juárez from this weekend perfectly epitomizes what the Apertura has been for the Universitarios. While they were technically always in the fighting, they never seemed to find the consistency or talent to really win the games that mattered. Pumas’ season in a nutshell and the reason why they will most likely be watching the Liguilla from the TV.
Cruz Azul’s season comes to another premature end
Failure is a word Cruz Azul fans are very much used to. In that regard, you can add this season to another one of their team’s long list of failures.
Like with other teams, it was going to take a miracle for Cruz Azul to make the Liguilla, but their 3-1 defeat to Santos Laguna on Sunday officially ended any hope they had of qualifying.
Just a few weeks ago, coach Robert Siboldi received the full backing of the higher-ups, which means that the team at least won’t be changing managers during the offseason. But changes is something this team definitely needs if they plan on competing in the 2020 Apertura because we are way past the 20-year mark without a league title. There is now adults that have never even seen Cruz Azul lift a league title.