Welcome to the beginning of the Liga MX playoffs! After 17 weeks of normal season play, 12 groups stay within the hunt for the 2022 Apertura title.
Starting with the play-in spherical this Saturday and Sunday, the Liguilla will kick-off with spots 5 by means of 12 battling it out for positions in subsequent week’s quarterfinal stage, the place the highest 4 of the common season will await them. Here is how the schedule appears:
Byes: No. 1 Membership America, No. 2 Monterrey, No. 3 Santos Laguna, No. 4 Pachuca
Forward of the primary playoff matches, we have got you lined with every little thing that you must know, starting with three tiers for the title favorites.
Tier 1: The Entrance-runners
Common season document: 17W-2D-3L (1st place)
Variety of league titles: 13 (most in Liga MX)
First-place Membership America have been by far one of the best group of the Apertura common season. After a shaky begin by means of three losses of their first 5 video games, supervisor Fernando Ortiz rejuvenated his aspect that then went on to an ongoing 12-game undefeated streak. Throughout the squad, there are too many high-performing gamers to call, together with main striker Henry Martin, game-changing midfielder Alvaro Fidalgo, energetic and good winger Alejandro Zendejas, up-and-coming defender Emilio Lara, and lots of extra.
Ortiz’s squad love to carry possession and shortly win the ball again as wanted, resulting in numerous entries within the remaining third the place somebody like Martin has been environment friendly together with his 10 objectives to this point. The playoffs are a completely totally different scenario although, and as Ortiz famous after Membership America’s newest consequence: “The Twelfth certified group has the identical alternative as us in first place.”
Common season document: 10W-5D-2L (2nd place)
Variety of league titles: 5
However what about Monterrey? They solely completed three factors behind Membership America in second place, and again in July, they even defeated the Mexico Metropolis group 3-2. There’s lots to love concerning the talent-heavy squad that boasted six nationwide group call-ups (5 for Mexico) within the newest worldwide window.
Sometimes thriving on by means of balls and lengthy passes that break previous defenses, Los Rayados do not essentially want possession as a lot as Membership America. Defensively, they’ve a dependable backline and are nice within the air. They could be a bit too scrappy although, that means that we should not rule out an pointless foul or yellow that hurts them within the playoffs.
Tier 2: The Darkish Horses
Common season document: 10W-3D-4L (third place)
Variety of league titles: 6
Santos Laguna have virtually gone under-the-radar with their success, which has given them a first-round bye. Carried by goalkeeper Carlos Acevedo and attack-minded gamers like Leonardo Suarez, Harold Preciado and Fernando Gorriaran, Los Guerreros went from fringe playoff contenders to sturdy finishers with just one loss of their final 10. There’s an effectivity to the third place group that’s nice at intercepting the ball and enjoying direct soccer — and have 38 objectives to point out for it over 17 video games.
However have they got the roster depth to compete with larger golf equipment? Fortunately, because of their prime three end, Santos Laguna will not have to check themselves till the quarterfinal stage.
Common season document: 9W-5D-3L (4th place)
Variety of league titles: 6
Fourth-place Pachuca additionally will not must cope with the play-in stage and can be part of Santos Laguna within the quarterfinal spherical. As soon as there, they need to be capable to showcase their virtually reckless variety of photographs and 1v1 dribbling that has overwhelmed groups. Supervisor Guillermo Alamada is not afraid to throw numbers ahead and belief younger home expertise in his risk-taking type of play, however this additionally generally results in shedding the ball far too many occasions.
Common season document: 9W-3D-5L (fifth place)
Variety of league titles: 7
On the danger of offending third-place Santos Laguna and fourth-place Pachuca, Tigres are in all probability one of the best of the second-tier group. Roster-wise, the fifth place group ought to be a real title-contender with names like Andre-Pierre Gignac, Nahuel Guzman, Florian Thauvin, Sebastian Cordova and a number of other different skillful choices. And but, an inconsistent finish to the season has left them out of the highest 4, that means they will first want to participate in a preliminary play-in spherical match towards Twelfth-place Necaxa.
Since stepping in as coach final summer time at Tigres, Miguel “Piojo” Hererra has collected extra ejections than titles with the group that has given him a roster that could be a Liga MX All-Star group all on their very own. With the funding being made, the larger-than-life boss must win one thing quickly and if not, he could be on the lookout for a job within the close to future.
Common season: 7W-6D-4L (sixth place)
Variety of league titles: 10
Sixth-place Toluca are an attention-grabbing squad as nicely. They took an opportunity on a roster overhaul over the summer time and it has paid off with a return to the playoffs after lacking out final season. Midfielders Leonardo Fernandez and Jean Meneses are Liga MX Greatest XI-caliber gamers for the 2022 Apertura, in the meantime supervisor Ignacio Ambriz seems motivated after a failed run with Huesca in Spain’s second division.
Probably the most evident downside for them although is a noteworthy drop in vitality, claiming only one win (towards backside of the desk Queretaro) of their final eight matches. Toluca will kick off the play-in spherical as hosts towards FC Juarez.
Common season document: 7W-3D-7L (seventh place)
Variety of league titles: 9
Seventh-place Cruz Azul have one thing that’s important earlier than a playoff run: Momentum. They have 4 wins of their final 4 video games, which incorporates victories over fellow playoff groups like Chivas and Leon. Interim supervisor Raul “Potro” Gutierrez has reawaked the Mexico Metropolis giants which have the luck of enjoying Leon as soon as once more within the play-in spherical this weekend. After that? That is the place some severe doubts stay, particularly when you think about how a lot Cruz Azul have struggled towards Liga MX’s finest this season.
Tier 3: The Lengthy-shots
Common season document: 4W-10D-3L (Eighth place)
Variety of league titles: 2
Puebla have the unusual notoriety of getting probably the most ties this season — with 10 to their identify by means of 17 video games. Credit score ought to be given to the younger however shrewd supervisor Nicolas Larcamon for retaining tempo in so many video games, however of these 10, Puebla held the lead seven occasions earlier than ultimately shedding it. Heaps to show for the Eighth-place group that can face Chivas within the play-in spherical.
They’re presently the Liga MX group with the longest title drought — final received in 1990 — they could possibly be subsequent in line after the latest surprising championships received by underdogs Atlas and Cruz Azul since 2021. Larcamon tends to have a number of tips up his sleeve throughout massive video games, and as seen in earlier playoff runs, Puebla’s roster can turn into larger than the sum of its components in high-profile Liguilla video games.
Common season document: 5W-7D-5L (ninth place)
Variety of league titles: 12
Outdoors of a handful of video games on the midpoint of the season, Chivas have been largely ineffectual and poor within the assault. After floundering to ninth place, supervisor Ricardo Cadena must revive the squad that has scored simply 19 occasions over 17 video games. Three consecutive losses (which stretches to 5 should you embody friendlies) to shut out the season will not assist a lot both.
What is going to seemingly irk Chivas followers is that Membership America look poised to additional improve their title tally, presently at 13. Nevertheless, if Chivas exceed expectations and in some way clinch an unlikely trophy, they might equal Membership America. Stranger issues have occurred in Liga MX.
Common season document: 6W-4D-7L (Tenth place)
Variety of league titles: 8
Tenth-place Leon have been common at finest, usually having points with stringing passable performances collectively. The excellent news for them, and for supervisor Renato Paiva, is that new striker Lucas Di Yoiro is gaining some type on the finish of the season. Up towards Cruz Azul within the play-in spherical, the Argentine will probably be heading in with 4 objectives and two assists over his final seven appearances.
Common season document: 4W-7D-6L (eleventh place)
Variety of league titles: None
FC Juarez breathed a sigh of reduction just lately, realizing that they wanted some outcomes to work of their favor to complete at eleventh place. Supervisor Hernan Cristante and veteran goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera have carried out nicely to tighten up the backline, however going ahead, there may be little hope for the group that has the fewest objectives scored (17) from the golf equipment remaining within the playoffs.
Common season document: 5W-4D-8L (Twelfth place)
Variety of league titles: 3
Lastly, we shut out with Twelfth-place Necaxa, who additionally wanted some outcomes to work of their favor final weekend. They’ve query marks all through their XI and with just one victory since mid-August, Los Rayos ought to simply be comfortable to be right here and will not be a lot of a problem to Tigres.
Gamers to observe
Now we have to spotlight Membership America’s Martin. No participant has had a better whole of mixed objectives (10) and assists (5) this season than the 29-year-old ahead. At present within the working for priceless World Cup minutes and appearances for Mexico, Martin ought to be greater than motivated to proceed his glorious run of type. In assist at Membership America, Spanish midfielder Alvaro Fidalgo has been unbelievable as nicely and is arguably probably the most impactful Liga MX participant in his place within the Apertura.
As Santos Laguna’s chief in internet, Acevedo can have a degree to show within the playoffs. Regardless of being one of many prime goalkeepers of the season, and likewise regardless of his gorgeous purpose he scored in early September, the 26-year-old was surprisingly not noted of Mexico’s newest call-up final month. A powerful end within the Liguilla might do loads to assist win over El Tri supervisor Gerardo “Tata” Martino forward of Qatar.
League-leading goalscorer Ibañez deserves a particular shout after topping the Liga MX common season charts with 11 objectives for Pachuca. Because of the Argentine’s intelligent positioning and glorious placement of the ball by means of headers, he’ll be a risk to any and all defenders within the Liguilla.