The final weekend of the Liga MX season has arrived. Serious musical chair action awaits as five open Liguilla seats remain as ten teams meander in a melodic march. The first aid kit will be needed as five teams end up bruised and battered on the floor. This trial by combat will certainly result in some heads (coaches) being chopped off but the real carnage will be in a different battle all together.
Puebla and Leones Negros will be competing in a gruesome death match otherwise known as the final day of the relegation battle. They will be roughly six hundred miles apart on Saturday but their fates are intertwined. Two go in only one comes out. (This is where you should play some ominous sounding music in your head ... just do it.)
At the start of the week, every match this weekend has at least one team contending for one of the final five playoff spots. Needless to say, game by game the look of this upcoming Liguilla will be in flux. Luckily, I have all of this mess presorted for you. Through great determination and obvious clairvoyance, I've seen the result of each of this weekend's matches and thus have the full Liguilla ready for your consumption. Here's how week seventeen will play out:
Queretaro (23 pts, +1 GD) v. Chiapas (20 pts, -8 GD)
Queretaro are aiming for a playoff spot. Chiapas are aiming for vacation. The Gallos Blancos not only get the benefit of playing a team with nothing to play for, but the Jaguares of Chiapas. Jaguares are a decent team ... when they play in Chiapas. Otherwise, they are a train wreck. All signs point toward a win for the home team here.
The only thing that gives me pause if the potential zombie apocalypse that could break out with this one. When Queretaro were last relegated a few years back they quickly bought Jaguares and moved them to the Corregidora and slapped their jerseys on them. Thus, they became known as Zombie Jaguares. San Luis seeing the opportunity to leave San Luis did so. They moved their club to Chiapas and became Jaguares. Thus, they became known as Zombie San Luis.
Now, I'm not much in to zombie drama or any media in that genre, so I don't know all the ins and outs of zombie battle. However, I get the sense that when a couple of zombie packs are squaring off some weird stuff can go down. Queretaro (Zombie Jaguares) should still win this handily. After all, they do embody the spirit of their opponent (or something).
__ Foreseen Result: Queretaro 3 -0 Chiapas
__ Bonus Points earned: 5,000 ... for not mentioning Ronaldinho in these paragraphs.
Veracruz (28 pts, +11 GD) v. Pachuca (22 pts, +3 GD)
The Tiburones Rojos of Veracruz have already locked up their playoff spot ahead of this final match. Let that fact soak in for a second. Swish it around in the mouth a bit. Do you also detect notes of irony and a real earthiness reminiscent of holy excrement? The relegation favorites at the beginning of the season (not for me ... I picked UdG to go down! I'm super smart) enter this final match at the top of the table. Los Tuzos of Pachuca have endured a much more humbling season. They are a long shot and are faced with the real possibility that a win could still see them sitting on the outside of the Liguilla. Veracruz has little to play for in this match as playoff seeding is beyond pointless. Yet, I can't quite give Pachuca the win here. The 'Pirata' in Veracruz is a tough place to play. The red sharks don't lose many there and I don't expect that trend to be broken. Veracruz has a way of getting results when they are outplayed.
__ Foreseen Result: Veracruz 1 -1 Pachuca
__ Bonus Points earned: 300 ... for not trying to make the bragging humble
Monterrey (23 pts, -3 GD) v. Pumas (21 pts, -5 GD)
The final (regular season) match in the 'Tec' sees playoff hopeful Pumas visit the Rayados who are angling for their own spot. The reality is that neither of these teams will be getting to the Liguilla this season. Monterrey will win this match, but their goal differential is going to be a problem. They need plenty to go in their favor to qualify, on top of a win over Pumas. I'm going to pour out a Heineken for the Rayados season (in a gross beer protest ... not for a loss).
__ Foreseen Result: Monterrey 2-1 Pumas
__ Bonus Points earned: 0 ... no one wins with spilled beer.
Leon (14 pts, -9 GD) v. Tijuana (24 pts, +4 GD)
In the some dusty back corner of my mind, I'm still waiting for Leon to make some miraculous run to qualify for the Liguilla and then crush the hearts and souls of all the legitimate title contenders with their black magic. The majority of my mind is aware that Leon are eliminated from contention and have nothing to play for other than little things like the manager's job, respect, and dignity. The fool's gold start to the season for Xolos gives off the impression of a late season collapse. I would argue that they simply have come back down to a more realistic set of results. With that being said, they should still have enough to overcome Leon. Leon has a history of laying it on Tijuana in the stadium that's not in Barcelona. They also have a recent history of employing a defensive strategy in line with that of the first little pig. Tijuana will score in this match, will win, and will be in the playoffs.
__ Foreseen Result: Leon 1-3 Tijuana
__ Bonus Points earned: 75 ... for mocking ridiculously named stadium
Cruz Azul (25 pts, +2 GD) v. Leones Negros (15 pts, -8 GD)
Full disclosure, I lack an ability to look at Cruz Azul games rationally. I see doom and destruction awaiting my team around every corner. This is a combination of my natural inclinations and the experiences I've grown accustomed to as a supporter of this club.
However, I have clearly seen how disappointment will catch up with my club this time around. Their opponents, Leones Negros desperately need to win. Anything but a win in this game and they will be relegated regardless of the Puebla result. So there will be a maximum level of motivation from the visiting team.
The problem for Leones Negros is that they simply can't score. Eleven goals in sixteen matches turns out to be a pretty sad goals per game ratio. Obviously that is the fewest number of goals scored in the league. On top of that, Cruz Azul has allowed the fewest number of goals of any team with twelve. In the best case scenario, Leones Negros beats the odds and scores a goal.
The problem for Cruz Azul is that they simply can't score. They are tied for the second fewest goals in the league with Morelia (never a good sign) at fourteen. On top of that, they are Cruz Azul. They need a win to secure themselves a Liguilla place. What are the chances (not in an SPI kind of way, but in a way that measures mental stability) that Cruz Azul get a big win over a team in a big spot? Not likely.
What is likely and what will occur is a draw. A draw that eliminates Cruz Azul on goal differential and sends Leones Negros out of Liga MX. Everyone leaves miserable!
__ Foreseen Result: Cruz Azul 1-1 Leones Negros
__ Bonus Points earned: 1,000 ... for getting past my fears of Cruz Azul conceding nine to Leones Negros
Santos Laguna (24 pts, +3 GD) v. Puebla (19 pts, +1 GD)
The match will be occurring simultaneously with the match in Estadio Azul. Relegation drama at its finest. Puebla enters the match with the onus to not lose. A loss makes relegation a possibility (with a Leones Negros win). A draw or win will save them.
Santos Laguna needs a win as well. A draw will likely not be enough to qualify for the Liguilla. A win will clinch their place. This match being in Torreon should factor in the result. I don't really trust either of these teams. Santos is the superior squad from a talent perspective, but Puebla will give them a fight. This will be close, but Santos will prevail by the tightest of margins.
Puebla loses but will be safe based on the Leones Negros draw.
__ Foreseen Result: Santos Laguna 1-0 Puebla
__ Bonus Points earned: 5 ... for writing a game preview with little to no previewing.
Atlas (28 pts, 0 GD) v. Club America (26 pts, +2 GD)
Atlas are in the contented trio that have their Liguilla place locked up. That would normally mean that they could kick up their feet and relax in their final home match. That would be if they didn't have the chance to go for everyone's favorite pastime ... disappointing Americanistas. An Atlas win would put America's chances of qualifying for the Liguilla in serious danger.
That won't be happening though. America, for all their bizarre tactical approaches, are better than Atlas. They should be able to score enough to overcome their lackadaisical defending. Word coming out of America is that, in keeping in line with club policy, Matosas will be fired if America manages to win the title this season. We shall see if he and his team are able to reach this mark once again.
__ Foreseen Result: Atlas 1-3 Club America
__ Bonus Points earned: 0 ... doves cry when America wins. How could you think about points at a time like this?
Toluca (23 pts, +2 GD) v. Tigres (28 pts, +8 GD)
Tigres have beyond nothing to play for in this match. In fact, trying in this match would be massively counterproductive. Their Liguilla place is secured and they are entrenched in a Copa Libertadores run. Rest is of the utmost importance and I do believe they have the correct manager to dismiss a game completely.
Toluca will benefit from playing a squad with little motivation. A win here will see them through to a first round exit in the playoffs. Enjoy Toluca.
__ Foreseen Result: Toluca 2-0 Tigres
__ Bonus Points earned: 50 ... everyone wins when Tuca is involved.
Chivas (26 pts, +5 GD) v. Morelia (10 pts, -9 GD)
There's nothing quite like facing Morelia in a final home match to clinch a playoff spot. Congratulations, Chivas. The Monarcas of Morelia are terrible. They don't win matches and certainly not against good teams (weird that Chivas are now considered a good team ... not weird that Morelia defeated Cruz Azul). Chivas won't need three points to lock up a Liguilla place, but they will get them.
__ Foreseen Result: Chivas 2-0 Morelia
__ Bonus Points earned: 20 ... for my 20th unnecessary and uncalled for Cruz Azul reference.
Final Apertura standings (as I know they will be)
1. Veracruz - 29 pts.
2. Chivas - 29 pts.
3. America - 29 pts.
4. Tigres - 28 pts.
5. Atlas - 28 pts.
6. Tijuana - 27 pts.
7. Santos Laguna - 27 pts.
8. Queretaro - 26pts.
9. Toluca - 26 pts.
10. Cruz Azul - 26 pts.
11. Monterrey - 26 pts.
12-18 .. meh
So if my vision plays out perfectly, we are looking at a four way tie for the eighth and final playoff place. Queretaro by way of their decisive win over Zombie San Luis will have the goal differential advantage and thus the final playoff spot. Ronaldinho, Ronaldinho, Ronaldinho!!!
Bonus Point Sub-total: 6,450
Ronaldinho reference penalties : -2,000 x 3
Bonus Point Total: 450 ... (not too shabby)
** photo is used under a creative commons license from Toby Oxborrow