Tigres are peaking at the right time with Liga MX playoffs approaching
MEXICO CITY -- There are three playoff spots still available after 16 games in the Apertura 2018. However, the rest of the field is set -- and fans will take in the international break before coming back to the season's final act. Here's what we learned in Week 16:
1. Are teams wary of Tigres' run?
If there's a clear dark horse candidate going into the Apertura 2018 playoffs, Tigres has clearly emerged in that role. In the last four games, Tigres have grabbed eight points and scored 13 goals. Andre-Pierre Gignac has emerged once again as a beast -- he leads the league in goals after notching the first four-goal game of his career. They will be a tough out for anyone come playoff time.
2. Cruz Azul reaches ten-win plateau
There will be only one team in Liga MX to reach ten wins this season. After their comeback victory at the Estadio Azteca against Lobos BUAP, Cruz Azul likely wrapped up the top spot in the Apertura as well. With over two decades of futility in the league, this season looks to be their best opportunity in years to end the drought.
3. America adds another draw
Sure, Club America is undefeated over their last five games, but they also haven't won in nearly a month. Three draws against Cruz Azul, Toluca and Santos have inspired doubts in the minds of fans who have seen their team unable to defeat top opposition.
4. Morelia's late-season run pushes them towards playoffs
Four wins in the last five games have vaulted Morelia to the eighth spot in the league with 25 points and a likely playoff berth. It's been a remarkable turnaround for them -- just a few months ago, the team president had to offer a press conference and back the team's embattled manager. The bet paid off, and Morelia looks to make the playoffs again following their stellar finish.
5. Another away win for Pumas
The country's best visitor did it again this weekend, grabbing three points from Toluca in a solid display. As things shake out in the final weekend, Pumas will certainly look to avoid Tigres in the quarterfinals by any means necessary. That means they'll need to win and hope Club America slips up as well.
6. Chivas closes the season out on a high
The Goats' season highlight in the Apertura 2018 is their acclaimed film, currently being played in Mexican cinemas across the country. On the field, however, things have been starkly different. There will be no playoffs for Chivas this season (again), and turmoil looks to come the front office's way after controversial transactions (again).
7. Who's making the playoffs?
Technically, there are still three playoff spots up for grabs. However, Tigres, with their huge goal differential and good form are a lock to get in as of now. Toluca's chance of missing out, while still non-zero, looks very unlikely to happen. That leaves the eighth and final spot to be decided among Morelia, Pachuca and Queretaro, all two points from each other.
8. Queretaro and Pachuca squander chances
Speaking of which, the table could and should look very differently today if not for two gaffes from Los Gallos and Los Tuzos. Tasked with beating two of the weakest teams of the season, neither squad was able to grab all three points. Going into the season's final day, they'll both have bottom half opposition, but it's likely at least one of the two teams will miss out due to the missed opportunity last weekend.
9. Tijuana unravels late
Four straight losses have shoved Xolos into the table's nether regions. Despite the team's penchant for reinvention via the transfer market, it looks as if executive Ignacio Palou lost his touch in the Apertura 2018, with none of his signings making a true impact. There's plenty of work to be done ahead of the Clausura 2019.
10. Predicting playoff matchups
As the table stands now, the quarterfinals feature Cruz Azul versus Morelia, Club America against Toluca, Pumas facing off with Tigres and Santos Laguna playing Monterrey. The final order may change by the time the season's over, but as of now, all four matchups are more than enticing.