Here are your five conclusions from the Quarterfinals of the 2019 Liga MX Clausura Liguilla.
Tigres were there for the taking but still advance
This was a Quarterfinal most expected Tigres to win, but Pachuca will rue it as an opportunity lost after twice taking the lead in the tie. Los Tuzos were gifted chances in the First Leg and could easily have punished Ricardo “Tuca” Ferretti’s side. But at the end, they were left empty-handed despite even taking the lead in the Second Leg with ten minutes to go.
Tigres hold off Pachuca to reach Liga MX Semifinals https://t.co/wCfMHA1urT— FMF State of Mind (@FMFSoM) May 12, 2019
Tigres entered this Quarterfinal following defeat to rivals Monterrey in the Final of the CONCACAF Champions League, so it must have felt like a sigh of relief when Andre-Pierre Gignac scored the series-defining goal. However, it is worrying that Los Felinos constantly have to depend on their individualities to get anything done, especially in games they should definitely control.
León cruise into the Semifinals
Even with all the pressure being the “superlíder” assumes, Club León wrapped up a place in the Semifinals with a 5-2 aggregate win over Xolos de Tijuana. “They are just a regular season team”. Nope, coach Ignacio Ambriz and León firmly believe they have a good shot at lifting the title, and here, they barely broke a sweat. A First Leg flurry that ended 3-1 in favor of La Fiera combined with a Joel Campbell brace in the Second helped them earn a date against none other than Club América in the Semifinals.
.@clubleonfc advances, defeating @xolos_en 2-1 in the match and 5-2 on aggregate. #ligamxeng #LiguillaMXEng https://t.co/odaa3DODTl— FMF State of Mind (@FMFSoM) May 12, 2019
What was perhaps most telling about this win was how they showed that they still have one of the best attacking forces in Liga MX. Their forwards’ ability to generate attack puts them in the discussion with teams like Club América and Monterrey. It’s also a contributing reason why many will be changing their mind about La Fiera heading into the Semifinals.
Club América own Cruz Azul in Liguillas
After Sunday’s elimination, Cruz Azul remain without a single Quarterfinal triumph over rivals Club América. Here, it all went wrong (again!) for La Máquina. Although they were largely the better side in the Second Leg, they lived to regret their 3-1 defeat in the First.
There is at least consolation that this didn’t happen in the Final like it did last season. But for all the courage and guts they manufactured in the Second Leg, the bottom line is Quarterfinal or Final, it’s all the same thing. It’s a defeat against your biggest rival and it’s another year without a league title.
Club América survive Cruz Azul scare, advance to Liga MX Semifinals https://t.co/nCijMJNud1— FMF State of Mind (@FMFSoM) May 13, 2019
For América, they were certainly efficient, but there was also never any noticeable full control from Las Águilas. They were very much outplayed through portions of this tie, especially early into the Second Leg.
Psychologically, though, this was a huge step, and only fools would discount this team’s chances of winning back-to-back titles.
Monterrey double still in the cards
Necaxa made their life difficult, but Monterrey were able to move on to the Semifinals of the 2019 Liga MX Clausura. The reigning CONCACAF Champions League winners mustered up the necessary response after falling 1-0 in the First Leg and kept their dreams of winning the “doblete” alive.
Match Recap: Monterrey outlast Club Necaxa with a 1-0 victory and advance in the Liguilla@Rayados advance over @ClubNecaxa behind a brilliant goal from @Rpizarrot and will now face off against @TigresOficial in the semifinals#LigaMXeng#LiguillaMXeng https://t.co/zIxagJMXFn— FMF State of Mind (@FMFSoM) May 13, 2019
The competition has been tough for Rayados of late, going winless in their last three prior to Sunday’s win. But Diego Alonso and Company are making a good go at it, and they’ll be facing rivals Tigres next, a team they know they can beat already as was demonstrated in the CONCACAF Champions League Final.
For Necaxa, the extent to which they missed Brian Fernandez, who was suspended for this tie, seems more obvious than anything else. His absence was always going to be a big blow heading against one of the league’s better teams. At the end, however, it was an admirable season for Los Rayos, and particularly for their coach Guillermo Vazquez Jr, who made out of Necaxa one of the surprise teams of the season.
We have dream Semifinal matchups
You couldn’t have asked for better Semifinal matchups. On one side you have a historic León side taking on perennial favorites Club América. On the other, you have another Clásico Regiomontano between Tigres and Rayados.
Make no mistake about it, these were the four best teams through the course of the season, and it is nice to see the Semifinals reflect that. Who do you think will make the Liga MX Final?