Here are your five conclusions from the fifteenth week of play in the 2019 Liga MX Clausura.
Problems in Tijuana
Xolos de Tijuana failed to take advantage at the Estadio Caliente, as the Fronterizos fell 2-1 to Lobos BUAP on Saturday to remain outside of Playoff positioning. Against a team that on paper they were supposed to beat, Oscar Pareja’s men now find themselves in race against time, literally. In addition to needing positive results in their remaining two games, coach Pareja will need to find minutes for his least experience players, as Liga MX rules state that teams are required to play a combined 1000 minutes for their U-21 players. This obviously puts Xolos in a precarious position and one that could end up costing them a place in the Liguilla.
Cruz Azul march on but doubts remain
Cruz Azul’s 2-1 win over Pumas UNAM was an undeniably superb result for La Máquina, but there was elements of their play that still cast a doubt over which way their season is going. In essence, they never really had “control” of the match, and if it weren’t for the assistance of the VAR, perhaps we would be talking about a completely different result.
Cruz Azul hold on to defeat Pumas https://t.co/HkGJPNLOot— FMF State of Mind (@FMFSoM) April 21, 2019
With the win, Cruz Azul did manage to virtually seal their place in the Liguilla, but to be fair, La Máquina have been there and done that. The real question is will they mount a proper challenge for title again like they did last season or simply land among the top eight and bow out respectively in the Liguilla?
Tigres welcome the return of Gignac
Guess who’s back? After being out for weeks with a knee injury, Andre-Pierre Gignac returned to Tigres UANL’s starting lineup in their 2-2 draw with Monarcas Morelia. Though Gignac did not get on the scoresheet, this is without a question a boost in Tigres’ season. There is no denying that Gignac is a special player, and having a finisher like the Frenchman can make all the difference for Tigres in the Liguilla.
Gignac’s return also happens to coincide with the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League Final against none other than Monterrey. Tigres have never won an international title before, and what better way to do it than against your biggest rival?
Puebla put the last nail in Chivas’s coffin
In keeping with Chivas’s terrible 2019 Liga MX Clausura, the Rojiblancos threw away their remaining hopes of making the Liguilla by falling 3-1 to Puebla at the Estadio Akron. Chivas absolutely buckled in this one (surprise?), and after taking an early lead, Puebla cut them apart, scoring three unanswered goals, including two goals form Brayan Angulo in a space of four minutes.
To Puebla’s credit, La Franja are still very much a contender for a place in the Liguilla. “El Chelis” and his team are currently eighth in the standings with 23 points, only behind defending champions Club América on goal difference.
Toluca beat América, keep Liguilla hopes intact
Speaking of the defending champions, they continue to make life difficult for themselves. On Sunday, Club América fell 3-2 to Toluca at the Estadio Nemesio Diez and now find themselves within striking range of several teams outside the top eight.
Canelo’s two goals earn Toluca a 3-2 win over Club América https://t.co/zZGaOd4fB0— FMF State of Mind (@FMFSoM) April 21, 2019
One of those teams is actually Toluca. The Diablos Rojos have improved tremendously since the arrival of Ricardo Antonio La Volpe as manager, and this win takes them to 10th in the league standings with 21 points.
Toluca still need to win their remaining two games and hope that several results go their way, which sounds easier said than done considering Puebla and Xolos face each other in the last week of the regular season and Club América have a relatively easy schedule. That said, stranger things have happened in Liga MX, and nobody would be surprised to see Toluca sneak in as an eighth seed and take on León in the Quarterfinals.