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Race for Top 4 heats up

With only two rounds to go in the regular season, three spots are still in play for five teams.

FBL-MEX-AMERICA-CRUZ AZUL Photo by PEDRO PARDO/AFP via Getty Images

With only two rounds to go in the Guard1anes 2020 season, the race to the top will be a very close one. Except for León, who have run away with the league and have already clinched the number 1 seed with 36 points to date, the other three first-round bye spots are very much in play and can still go to either of the five teams in the hunt. Currently, Cruz Azul occupy 2nd overall with 29 points, followed in 3rd by Pumas with 28. América also have 28, but occupy 4th due to goal difference. Finally, the two ‘regios’. Tigres place 5th with 27 points, and just one point behind them with 26, are Rayados in 6th.

The interesting part about this entire situation is that over the final two rounds, three matches will feature games between these five teams. In other words, nothing is settled as of yet and any team can still end up anywhere as there is plenty on the line in the final 180 minutes of the season. Up next is each team’s remaining schedule:

TOP 4 (2 THRU 4):

2. CRUZ AZUL: R16 - @ Rayados, R17 - vs. Pumas

3. PUMAS: R16 - vs. Chivas, R17 - @ Cruz Azul

4. AMERICA: R16 - vs. Tigres, R17 - @ FC Juárez

IN THE HUNT:

5. TIGRES: R16 - @ América, R17 - vs. Atlas

6. RAYADOS: R16 - vs. Cruz Azul, R17 - @ Chivas

Each one of the teams play at least one of the other teams still in the race. Not to mention, Cruz Azul, who will face Rayados and Pumas, both of whom are still chasing a top 4 spot. It figures to be an extremely unpredictable ending to the season due to said matchups, with the 2-4 spots totally up for grabs.

It is worth noting that if Cruz Azul manage to defeat Monterrey on Halloween night, they will have clinched a first-round bye regardless, thanks to the América-Tigres matchup, which would one way or another result in one of them being unable to catch ‘La Máquina’, assuring Siboldi’s squad of a top 4 finish. Cruz Azul, of course, know how difficult that task will be, however, with Rayados currently winners of 3 straight and 4 out of their last 5 (3 of those 4 wins coming on the road). In other words, being away doesn’t scare Mohamed and company.

What’s to gain from finishing in the top 4? First off, the teams will get to rest up for the start of the Quarter-Final stage, having a week and a half off instead of just playing a normal week, and therefore having more of a chance of getting back an injured player. Second, the Wild-Card round is a single elimination match, meaning if for any reason a team were to be shown a circumstancial red card or have an off day, that would be it. In other words, they get to avoid a possible elimination against a lower team who could get lucky on any given day, especially considering Chivas, Toluca, and Necaxa are part of that lower four in the wild-card hunt. It’s never easy facing thos teams because of their gritty and physical style of play. While a top 4 finish certainly doesn’t guarantee a club a championship, it undoubtedly helps to have extra time off and avoid a dangerous single-game elimination round.