With the regular season coming to an end last weekend, that only means one thing; the playoffs have arrived. Thanks to the international FIFA break, all teams got a week off and we won’t see any Liga MX action until next weekend. This really takes away from the first-round bye the top 4 spots were supposed to enjoy. Because of that, those four clubs will now have about a two and a half week break, which could ultimately end up coming back to haunt them, as their on-field rhythm will have been affected. We’ll see if it does more harm than good in a couple of weeks. In the end, all playoff clubs got a one-week bye anyway.
All of that being said, there are a few interesting points to look forward to during this particular ‘Liguilla’, which I will highlight below:
- Tigres vs. Toluca wild-card matchup. This is supposed to be a much tougher matchup than many are anticipating. When these two met face-to-face in Week 5, the Diablos Rojos suprisingly stuck it to Tuca and company and defeated them by a 3-2 final. That match was of course played in La Bombonera, in contrast to next weekend’s match which will be played in San Nicolás de los Garza. However, with Tigres only losing three games this season, the fact that Toluca was one of those three means a lot. Not to mention, Toluca didn’t do half bad when facing the league’s top teams; they defeated Cruz Azul and Tigres, and drew with América and León. They clearly aren’t afraid of going toe to toe with the bigger, stronger teams.
- Pumas could have early playoff exit. I’ve been betting against them all season long, and thus far, I’ve been wrong. Their only loss of the season was to the hands of league-leaders León. However, I still continue to believe they haven’t played well enough and haven’t showed the necessary consistence to be the deserving 2nd overall seed. After all, Pumas won only half of their games (8W, 8D, 1L). They will more than likely be facing Chivas, Santos, or Pachuca in the Quarter-Final round, and I believe any of those three can pull off an upset vs. Lillini’s squad.
- Clásico Regio Final is a possibility. With Rayados and Tigres ending up in 5th and 6th place respectively, along with León highly unlikely to be ousted in the Quarter-Final round, that leaves only Pumas left on the list. If the two regios were to advance to the Semis along with León, and if Pumas can hold their own, that would set up a possible Clásico Regio Final scenario. If Pumas are upset, however (which to me is very likely), the Clásico regio would be advanced to the Semi-Final.
- Nacho Ambriz goes for first league title. In their last three full season under Ambriz (C19, A19, A20), León have not finished with less than 33 points. In fact, they’ve reached the 40-point mark in two of them. During those three seasons, they have a record of 34W, 12D, 6L. In Mexican football, that is just unheard of. This León is by far the best team in Liga MX over the past two years, and it all started following Ambriz’s arrival halfway through the Apertura 2018 campaign. León enter the playoffs once again as heavy favorites, and have the added pressure of having failed over their past two attempts. With many tough teams in the way of León winning it all for the first time since their two-peat in May 2014, Ambriz will look to obtain his first league championship as a head coach, after having already won a CONCACAF CL and a Copa MX title.