On the Brink: Week 9-10

It's getting real.

The margins are narrowing. The gaps are shrinking. The race is well and truly on.

This four team** battle looked to be tight at the beginning of the season; it is no different now. Well, there is one difference. There is less and less time for separation to form.

Veracruz has made it perfectly clear that they have no intention of being in this race. They are nearly out of it, and their form indicates they are not in danger of relegation. Still, crazier things have happened. The Tiburones Rojos are not yet safe.

Yet, Veracruz is bubble-wrapped and water-winged compared to our other three contenders. Chivas, by way of its troubling loss to Queretaro, finds itself one bad weekend away from pole position. Their partners in crime, Puebla find themselves in nearly the same position ... just with two fewer points. That two point margin nearly didn't exist. If not for two Jaguares goals in the dying minutes this weekend, Puebla would have had their fourth consecutive win and been even on points with Chivas. So, so narrow.

Leones Negros have decided these past two weeks to make things quite narrow. Two consecutive wins against two of the strongest teams have pushed Leones Negros into a tight battle with Chivas and Puebla. In fact, a win on Friday over Morelia propels them out of the dreaded bottom place no matter what happens with the other two.

 

TABLA DE DESCENSO

15. Veracruz - 60 games played - 70 points - 1.1667 ppg

16. Chivas - 94 games played - 102 points - 1.0851 ppg

17. Puebla - 94 games played - 100 points - 1.0638 ppg

18. Leones Negros - 26 games played - 27 points - 1.0385 ppg

 

The other two have a big match to look forward to this weekend. Puebla hosts Chivas in what is undoubtedly the most important match in the season thus far. After Leones Negros defeats Morelia, as they surely will, the loser of this match will be on the bottom of the descenso table. A draw will keep the status quo and the two point deficit for Puebla. A win for either side would be obviously monumental. One has to believe that each side will be putting all of their chips into the middle in this one. The problem is that Chepo de la Torre is probably the worst gambler in the world. Puebla wins this one 2-0.

In their next three matches, Veracruz travels to Tijuana, hosts America, and then plays Tigres in the Volcan. You could not create a harder three game schedule - unless they were to play themselves somehow. This week's match against the Xolos should be fascinating. If Veracruz remains undefeated much longer, I will be starting the appeal to get them a late round entry in the Europa league. I would also like their chances of taking down the Champions League winner after they capture the aforementioned title. So in other words, Veracruz wins.

______________________________________________________________________________

* Relegation in Liga MX is determined based on the lowest points per game for the past three years or six seasons including the present. Veracruz and Leones Negros are recently promoted and haven't been in the league for three years. Hence, they have played fewer matches and their points per game number fluctuates more than that of Puebla or Chivas.

** I still can't add Queretaro, Pachuca, or Chiapas to this relegation race realistically. Queretaro (with the lowest percentage of the three and looking the worst) is still pretty far removed from Chivas and Puebla in the rankings. Basically, Puebla would need to be 15 points better than Queretaro the rest of the way AND Chivas would need to be 13 points better AND both Veracruz and Leones Negros would need to continue their winning ways. It can happen; it's just an extremely long shot at this point. We'll see how this looks in a few more weeks.

*** Artwork is used under a Creative Commons license from Darren Harmon

 

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