What each team must do to clinch a spot for the Liga MX playoffs
MEXICO CITY -- The Apertura 2018 regular season is about to end. With only four match weeks left, the Liguilla (the name used for the playoffs) is not fully defined yet. Many clubs still have a real shot of contending for the title. That's why Liga MX fans are looking forward to an exciting conclusion.
We look at what each one of the 18 clubs must do to qualify for the eight spots.
THESE TEAMS CONTROL THEIR DESTINY
1. Club America (27 points)
The Aguilas have arguably punched their ticket and they depend upon themselves in order to end the regular phase as overall leader. To finish the tournament on a positive note would allow the club to be one of the main candidates to the Liga MX title.
Upcoming opponents: Cruz Azul, Toluca, Santos and Veracruz
2. Cruz Azul (26 points)
The Pedro Caixinha-led club is about to clinch a spot in the Liguilla. However, despite the fact Cruz Azul spent a large chunk of the season at the top the table, it could end up outside of one of the top four spots.
Upcoming opponents: America, Pumas, Lobos BUAP and Morelia
3. Santos (25 points)
The Torreon side has a great chance of clinching a berth during the upcoming matches, and even of finishing the regular season in first place. The club has cemented themselves as one of the most consistent sides in the 2018 Apertura season.
Upcoming opponents: Monterrey, Queretaro, América and Pumas
4. Pumas (23 points)
Pumas, as is the case with Santos, can write their own ending and advance to the Liguilla. It's important to point out that, despite their many chances of contending, the side could end up watching the from afar if it ends up losing throughout the tournament's final four dates.
Upcoming opponents: Tijuana, Cruz Azul, Toluca and Santos
5. Monterrey (23 points)
We are talking about a very similar scenario to the one Pumas is facing. However, the Rayados have upon them a more accessible final stage of the regular tournament, by facing sides located on the bottom of the leaderboard. Therefore, it is almost a sure thing to have them playing the Liguilla.
Upcoming opponents: Santos, Veracruz, Nexaca and Atlas
6. Toluca (22 points)
The side led by Hernan Cristante has a three-point advantage over the seventh and eighth spots in the leaderboard. That's why they depend upon themselves in order to advance to the Liguilla. The club hopes to end the regular phase located among the first four spots. They are currently at three points away from third place.
Upcoming opponents: Queretaro, America, Pumas and Lobos BUAP
7. Tigres (19 points)
Tigres are in in a touchy spot. The team managed by Ricardo "Tuca" Ferretti could end up losing their berth if they end up losing in their upcoming match. However, for the time being, they are still dependent on their own performance.
Upcoming opponents: Lobos BUAP, Morelia, Puebla and Chivas
8. Queretaro (19 points)
They face the same scenario as Tigres: a loss could mean their elimination from the Liguilla; but they are facing two opponents which are at the bottom of the leaderboard.
Upcoming opponents: Toluca, Santos, Veracruz and Necaxa
THESE CLUBS NEED HELP
9. Morelia (19 points)
Morelia, with the same amount of points as Tigres and Queretaro, have to rely upon a slide from one of the two aforementioned sides so they could claim a Liguilla spot. The Michoacan side has allowed more goals from their opponents and that's the reason why they are currently out of the main eight spots. Next week, Morelia will play a crucial match against Tigres.
Upcoming opponents: Chivas, Tigres, Tijuana and Cruz Azul
10. Pachuca (16 points)
Pachucha is one of four clubs with 16 points each, at three points from a Liguilla berth. However, they are hoping that Tigres, Queretaro or Morelia end up with a bad skid throughout the rest of the tournament. It is worth noting that Pachuca will face an arguably easy end of the regular season.
Upcoming opponents: Veracruz, Necaxa, Atlas and Leon
11. Chivas (16 points)
The Guadalajara club still dream of the Liguilla, but they are forced to win in the upcoming weeks and still depend of a bad outcome for four teams throughout their upcoming dates, so they could have a shot to the title.
Upcoming opponents: Morelia, Puebla, Leon and Tigres
12. Leon (16 points)
Leon must keep on winning in order to increase their chances of clinching a Liguilla berth. However, as is the case of Pachuca and Chivas, they depend on other teams' results. The next two match dates could be a key for the side managed by Nacho Ambriz and its expectations.
Upcoming opponents: Pueba, Atlas, Chivas and Pachuca
13. Tijuana (16 points)
The Xolos are still reeling from a tough defeat against Club America, but still have huge chances of advancing to the Liguilla. They have to overcome some huge hurdles first. If they lose to Pumas next week, it could mean the end of all their hopes.
Upcoming opponents: Pumas, Lobos BUAP, Morelia and Puebla
14. Puebla (15 points)
Puebla has a very complicated outlook in front of them. The club needs to win in at least three of their next four matches and hope that the sides over them on the leaderboard are not able to add three points in the future.
Upcoming opponents: Leon, Chivas, Tigres and Tijuana
TEAMS ON THE BRINK OF ELIMINATION
15. Necaxa (12 points)
After their loss to Leon, Necaxa fired manager Marcelo Michel Leano and it looks like a long shot to have them contending for the title; but they still have a chance, technically speaking. They need to start to win again, though, while hoping that other sides start to tumble.
Upcoming opponents: Atlas, Pachuca, Monterrey and Queretaro
16. Lobos BUAP (12 points)
They are under the same scenario but Lobos BUAP's chances are even less than those of Nexaca's. They have shown poor form throughout the tournament with a roster not quite able to match their upcoming rivals.
Upcoming opponents: Tigres, Tijuana, Cruz Azul and Toluca
17. Veracruz (9 points)
While they have a mathematical chance of advancing to the Liguilla, it seems quite impossible for them to make it. Veracruz must win each one of their final four matches while hoping that the clubs on top of them in the leaderboard end up losing all of their upcoming games.
Upcoming opponents: Pachuca, Monterrey, Queretaro and Club America
18. Atlas (8 points)
The club side is practically out of contention. Just like Veracruz, they still have a theoretical shot, but it is more probable that team executives are already planning their next tournament.
Upcoming opponents: Necaxa, Leon, Pachuca and Monterrey