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Liga MX Clausura Week 16: América avert crisis, Chivas surprise León

Chivas v Leon - Torneo Clausura 2019 Liga MX Photo by Refugio Ruiz/Getty Images

Here are your five conclusions from the sixteenth week of play in the 2019 Liga MX Clausura.

Tijuana hang on to life

On Friday night, Xolos de Tijuana made the statement that they belong in the 2019 Liga MX Clausura Liguilla by thumping Monarcas Morelia 4-1. The Fronterizos made life difficult for themselves last week by losing at home to Lobos BUAP, but coupled with Puebla’s 1-1 draw to Tigres earlier in the night, destiny is once again in Tijuana’s hands. All Xolos need from their last game versus Puebla is a win or a draw. Anything else would mean it would be La Franja who goes through.

It hasn’t always been straightforward for Oscar Pareja’s men, but it must be said that they have also had some strong performances this season, including wins over Club América, Monterrey and league leaders Club León. At the end, they are going to need another one against Puebla if they are going to want to make the Liguilla.

The defending champions march on

Crisis averted. Club América have made it hard work in recent weeks, but on Saturday, they got the job done by beating Santos Laguna 1-0 to officially clinch their place in the Liguilla. All told, América’s end to the season has been no work of art, but las Águilas’ history in these situations suggest that the defending champions will be just fine. Sure, fans have became increasingly agitated from star signing Nico Castillo’s lack of scoring, but it’s worth mentioning that almost six months ago from this time, we were having a similar conversation.

The most discouraging development from all this, however, is that, unless they somehow leap all the way up to fourth, they will likely face one of the Monterrey teams or Cruz Azul in the Quarterfinals. That said, you best bet they are probably thinking the same thing and the prospect of facing América so early in the competition.

Chivas shock León in final home game

Chivas Guadalajara delivered a gritty performance on Saturday, as the Rojiblancos ended Club León record-breaking winning streak with a 2-1 victory at the Estadio Akron. Chivas’ win came when it least mattered, but at the very least, they gave their fans something to cheer about in their last home game of the season.

There was certainly no faulting the effort either, especially in the composure of the team, which was a big problem for León throughout the night. León, who saw their winning streak end at 12, now have a lot of thinking to do ahead of the Liguilla. While La Fiera will most certainly still finish at the top of the league table, it’s not a good sign when a simple defensive performance from Chivas can do the trick, considering the level of play in the Liguilla will be a lot greater than that of the Rojiblancos.

Nuevo León teams head into CCL Final with draws

No game in Mexico will be bigger next week than the one that will be played on Wednesday in the city of Monterrey. Rayados and Tigres will face off in the second leg of the 2019 CONCACAF Champions League Final.

Both Rayados and Tigres have quietly been occupying the second and third positions in the league table, but obviously, the CONCACAF Champions League took precedence this week, as both sides get ready for their second Clásico Regio final at the Estadio BBVA Bancomer in two years.

Well, at least that was the case for Rayados who rotated their squad heavily in their 2-2 draw versus Necaxa, while Tigres went nearly full-strength in their 1-1 stalemate with Puebla. In much Ricardo “Tuca” Ferretti fashion, Tigres haven’t been as enthusiastic of the possibility of winning their first international title. They were clearly outplayed in the first leg, losing 1-0, and will now go into the second leg facing a well-rested Rayados side.

May the best team win.

Toluca’s season ends in Ciudad Universitaria

On Sunday, Toluca were able to overcome a two goal deficit but had to settle for a 2-2 draw at Pumas UNAM to officially crash out of the Liguilla race. The sight of Toluca coming up short after coming from two goals down at Ciudad Universitaria perfectly summed up the Diablos Rojos’ season. They started their campaign slow, lost out on the chance of winning the CONCACAF Champions League, let go of their manager and got back into the Liguilla frame under Ricardo Antonio La Volpe, only to see it all come down in their penultimate game of the season.

The noteworthy thing here is that this has been the story for Toluca for much of their recent history. A team that, like Tigres nowadays, claims it should be considered one of the big teams in Mexico has now gone almost ten whole years without a league title. Even the team that they tied against today, Pumas UNAM, has won a league title across that span. It must be nice to be want to be considered a big team but face very little pressure in the process. At least there’s always next season.