Liga MX: The Top Dogs, The Underdogs & The Chihuahuas
The Liga MX Clausura 2018 playoffs commence this Wednesday with Pumas UNAM playing Club America and Club Tijuana playing Monterrey. There are some great matchups to look forward to this week and they are almost unpredictable like in any Liga MX season. The “Liguilla” is the start of a new season but here are Futbol 20’s top contender, dark horse and weak link in the Clausura 2018 playoffs.
Top Dogs: Toluca
Toluca lost to the only dogs in the league, the Xolos, to end its season but that loss broke a nine-game winning streak. Los Chorizeros were on a tremendous run and had an amazing season finishing in first place with 36 points, seven more points than Club America in second place. Toluca has a strong squad and has the luxury of benching players like Fernando Uribe and Gabriel Hauche. Hernan Cristante has plenty of pieces to move and his fiery attitude works well with the squad he has. Rubens Sambueza is the motor of the team and he was arguably the best player in the Liga MX this season. Sambueza works well with Pablo Barrientos in the midfield while Alexis Canelo, Fernando Uribe, and Luis Quinones finish off the chances they create. The defense is also experienced, physically strong and has the luxury of playing in front of a top goalkeeper like Alfredo Talavera.
Underdogs: Monarcas Morelia
While this role would be appropriate for a team like the Xoloitzcuintles, Club Tijuana only scored one away goal this season and does not seem like a team that will bother anyone in the “Liguilla”. However, Monarcas Morelia is a team to watch that can even get past the top dogs Toluca. Morelia’s weak point is the defense, that was tied for the most goals allowed out of any playoff team with 24. The attack, on the other hand, is a threat with Raul Ruidiaz leading it and Diego Valdes behind him. The x-factor for Roberto Hernandez is Ruidiaz, who is easily one of the best strikers in the Liga MX. Morelia always gives a good fight at home and are capable of pulling some upsets rallying under Roberto Hernandez.
Chihuahuas: Santos Laguna
Santos Laguna is not the weakest team in the playoffs but it is the team that had the worst finish to the regular season. The team from Torreon finished the season with three straight losses and only scored two goals in this three-game losing streak. Los Laguneros actually lost four of their last five games in the Clausura 2018 and will not go into the playoffs with the best mindset. Santos Laguna was also reliant on Djaniny Tavares this semester, he scored 14 goals and Los Guerreros only won two games when he did not score. The tide does not look promising for Robert Silboldi’s team but it is a new season after all and the current bad form can change in an instant.