By MIKE GRAMAJO
As the 2013 Clausura comes to its final week before the Liguilla, Monterrey look to build from their recent CONCACAF Champions League three-peat and clinch the last playoff spot in the Mexican table.
Los Rayados earned their first road victory of the season last Saturday, beating Tigres 1-0 in the Clasico Regionmontano, which kept their playoffs hopes alive. Monterrey only need a draw against Cruz Azul to ensure a place in the playoffs, as eighth-place Queretaro are already condemned to relegation, disqualifying them from the Mexican postseason.
Club Tijuana’s magical domestic run has fallen back to earth, as their form since March has ended any chance of them qualifying for the playoffs. Xolos, while still alive in the Copa Libertadores, have lost six of their last eight matches, and sit in 11th place in the Liga MX table.
Here’s a closer look at some of this weekend’s Liga MX matches:
AMERICA LOOK TO TOP TIGRES
The race for top of the table comes down to the final match day, when first place Club America host second-place UANL at the Azteca Stadium on Saturday. Though both teams are tied in points, America hold a three-goal differential over UANL, which puts Los Aguilas at the top of the table.
Playing at Pachuca last Saturday, America used a seven minute second half hat-trick by Christian Benitez to help propel them over Los Tuzos, 4-2. In the last match between Tigres and America, the two drew, 1-1, in Nueva Leon.
UANL enter the postseason in fine form, going unbeaten in their last 13 games, though they are 2-2-1 in their last five. America are currently unbeaten in eight matches, with top scorer Benitez scoring 12 goals in 14 appearances.
SANTOS LAGUNA FACES MORELIA IN TOP-FIVE CLASH
Fourth-place Santos Laguna hope to get over their shocking loss to Monterrey in the CONCACAF Champions League last Wednesday when they host fifth-place Monarcas Morelia on Saturday.
Both sides need a win to give themselves an advantage in the upcoming playoffs, likely giving viewers a wide open match. A Santos win coupled with either an Atlas, Tigres, or America loss can send Los Guerreros as high as second place in the standings. A win for Monarcas would send them into fourth place above Santos.
When the two teams met in the Apertura season, Monarcas defeated Santos, 2-0, with two goals from forward Miguel Sabah, who is now on Chivas de Guadalajara.
Here’s the full list of matches for Week 17, complete with TV schedule:
LIGA MX SCHEDULE (Clausura Week 17)
8:30 pm – Azteca America, ESPN Deportes – Chiapas vs. Pachuca
10:30 pm – Univision Deportes – Tijuana vs. Chivas Guadalajara
6pm – Univision – Club America vs. UANL Tigres
8pm – UniMas – Monterrey vs. Cruz Azul
8pm – Univision Deportes – Santos vs Morelia
10pm – Univision Deportes – Atlas vs. Leon
10pm – Univision Deportes 2 – Queretaro vs. Puebla
1pm – Univision – Toluca vs. San Luis
7pm – Univision Deportes – Atlante vs. UNAM Pumas
Yes, once again Mexico’s 1st division has made a rule to keep from getting embarrassed. But they can’t predict what will happen from Apertura to Clausura about the relegation hunt. Which means a team could win an Apertura Championship and go down–even if then stripped of the title the black mark would still be on Mexican footie.
León was not so far from doing that this year, they were in the Apertura playoffs and then tanked in the Clausura. The fact that they are first year up and their points per game average(which is actually what relegation is based on*) is only based on one year means their quotient is especially volatile. That left them mathematically in the relegation race for quite a while.
*If all the teams in the relegation hunt have 3 or more years up the average is based on the same number of games, so in that case one can also look just at the point difference between those teams to see where they are in the race. It’s a little harder to find the tie breaker info, though.
While I’ll try to watch América-Tigres, the match with the most interesting implications is Querétaro-Puebla. If Querétaro wins by less than something like 11 goals, they will be mathematically qualified for a playoff spot but unable to participate because they will be relegated.
(A win would tie them with Puebla on points for the 3 years of regular season games relevant to relegation, but their goal difference is quite a bit worse than Puebla’s, and LigaMX has a rule against a relegated team being in the playoffs)
Thus it appears my dream of a team winning a championship and then going down will have to happen in the Apertura. Not that I have anything against LigaMX, I follow Pumas, but don’t much like torneos cortos(the 2 semester system).
they changed the rule, if they don’t score 11 goals Monterrey gets the playoff spot