Liga MX favorites Tigres and Club America on upset alert in Liguilla
The Clausura Liguilla kicked off with two wins and two draws for the lower seeds, who hosted the first legs of the quarterfinals.
Every squad still has a fighting chance, and some favorites are in danger of upset. Now each have just 90 more minutes to make a case for themselves for a spot at the semifinals of the Liguilla.
Here are five things to watch for this weekend.
1. America pushing for another comeback at the Azteca
Pachuca might have the 3-2 win in hand against America, but Las Aguilas will likely feel confident going into the second leg at home.
A couple months ago, America lost 3-0 to Herediano in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions league semifinals but then roared back with a 6-0 win at the Estadio Azteca in the second leg. In the past season's Liguilla final, America came from behind after a 1-0 loss to Tigres and scored three times against Los Auriazules at the Azteca once again.
With the current roster available and Gustavo Matosas' knack for thriving in the postseason, a massive victory for America shouldn't be too surprising Saturday night. America's two goals at Pachuca could also prove highly beneficial if the aggregate score is tied.
2. Roster selection for Tigres
Tigres will be taking part in two competitions in just four days. After Saturday's game against Santos Laguna, the squad will head south to Ecuador for the first leg of the Copa Libertadores quarterfinal against Emelec on Tuesday.
Considering the historic opportunity Tigres can achieve in the South American tournament, manager Ricardo "Tuca" Ferretti will likely save his best options for the match in Ecuador next week. No Mexican team has ever won the competition, and there has been a total of two times a Liga MX squad has made a final.
The club has so far done an excellent job of balancing both tournaments and could potentially have an extraordinary season with two titles.
Although it might seem risky to utilize multiple backup options on Saturday, Tigres will have the benefit of the 12th man at the Estadio Universitario. With a passionate and vocal fan base at the stadium, the venue could be a significant factor in the outcome of the match.
3. Santos Laguna's attack
Los Guerreros need goals, simple enough. After the 1-1 draw at home against Tigres, Santos Laguna will need to secure either a win or a 2-2 draw, at the least, to make it to the semis, which will be no easy task.
Los Auriazules haven't lost at home since January and have only allowed three goals in the past seven matches at the Estadio Universitario. Players such as Nestor Calderon, Javier Orozco and Andres Renteria will need to help push the Los Guerreros attack -- all three players have combined for a total of nine goals in Santos' past six games.
The club lacked goals during long stretches of the Clausura but has recently had success through the likes of the three aforementioned players. That said, great performances in the Liguilla could make up for the poor form strikers such as Orozco and Djaniny Tavares have had so far this season.
Santos fans will need to cross their fingers that Ferretti rests his best defensive options this weekend.
4. Veracruz finding success at home
Thanks to a late, game-winning goal by Queretaro defender Yasser Corona, Veracruz found itself the underdog after losing 2-1 to Los Gallos Blancos in the first leg.
Now, Los Tiburones Rojos will be hosting Queretaro in a venue the team has recently struggled in. Since April, Veracruz has yet to win at the Estadio Luis "Pirata" Fuente. In fact, the squad has only one victory -- a narrow 2-1 win over UdeG -- in the past seven matches.
With Ronaldinho finally stepping up and Queretaro not losing any of the momentum it has gained through new manager Victor Manuel Vucetich, Los Tiburones Rojos will have their backs against the wall this Sunday.
Striker Julio Furch, who has scored or assisted about a third of Veracruz's goals, could be the team's savior. The Argentine hasn't scored in his past three games and is due for another standout match for his club.
5. The second and final leg of the Clasico Tapatio
Although the atmosphere was electric on Thursday at the Estadio Omnilife, the match was anything but. After an exciting first 20 minutes, both Chivas and Atlas gradually slowed their tempos and lumbered to a dull 0-0 final score.
From a fan perspective, it was a massive letdown but one that shouldn't reemerge this Sunday when the two rivals meet at the Estadio Jalisco. Another 0-0 would only help Atlas, which means Los Rojiblancos need to push higher up the field and pressure the Los Zorros defense.
With Chivas stretched in the attack, it wouldn't be too foolish for Atlas to counterattack and run at Chivas as well. Los Zorros might have the slight advantage playing at the Estadio Jalisco, but if Chivas sneaks in just one goal, Atlas can't afford to tie the game. Any draw outside a 0-0 would secure a semifinal place for Chivas
Cesar Hernandez covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @cesarhfutbol.