Liga MX quarterfinal best XI: Funes Mori and Elias Hernandez lead the way
The quarterfinals of the 2018 Apertura playoffs are now done. Following eight thrilling matches, only four teams remain in the hunt for the title: Pumas, Monterrey, Club America and Cruz Azul. There's plenty of drama left in the Liguilla, but before we begin to preview the semis, let's first take a look back at some of the best individual performances from the quarterfinal stage.
GK: Marcelo Barovero, Monterrey
On the back of Barovero's 10 saves, Monterrey is the only team that has yet to allow a goal in the playoffs. The 34-year-old Argentine, who suffered a nasty fall during the second leg, proved crucial for Los Rayados with his numerous stops. That said, Barovero now has a difficult challenge in the shape of Cruz Azul in the semis.
CB: Alejandro Arribas, Pumas
Arribas was the main reason why Tigres' Andre-Pierre Gignac was so quiet during the quarterfinal stage. For 180 minutes, the Spaniard proved to be aggressive nuisance against Gignac, forcing him to hit a number of shots off target. In the next round against Club America, Pumas will once again have to rely on the physical central defender who has so far looked like a game-changer in the Liguilla.
CB: Bruno Valdez, Club America
The Paraguayan's 17 clearances alone are enough to earn him a place in the best XI. Against Toluca, Valdez not only stepped up as Club America's most important member of the backline, but also collected two goals along the way. The defender has now found the back of the net six times in the Apertura.
CB: Nicolas Sanchez, Monterrey
If you're impressed with the fact that Valdez has six goals this season as a central defender, Sanchez has seven... After scoring in the second leg against Santos Laguna, much will continue to justifiably be made about his goal scoring abilities, but there's more to the Argentine than just his finishing. The 32-year-old's interceptions and clearances were significant for Monterrey in the quarterfinals.
RM: Edgar Mendez, Cruz Azul
Although Mendez might not be the most exciting player on Cruz Azul's revamped roster, the Spaniard was undoubtedly one of their best in the last couple of games. With a goal and assist over the two legs against Queretaro, Mendez has proved himself to be a vital member of the attack.
CM: Mateus Uribe, Club America
Where would Las Aguilas be without the two assists from Uribe? In an extremely close series against Toluca, the midfielder took the lead as an active and decisive distributor of the ball. As long as Guido Rodriguez remains healthy as Club America's defensive midfielder, the 27-year-old Colombian will continue to have the privilege of roaming free as an effective playmaker.
CM: Ignacio Malcorra, Pumas
Very few players in the league have the same energy or drive as Malcorra. Whether it be as a winger or a central midfielder, the Argentine is undervalued for his versatility and composure. Against Tigres in the unexpected 3-1 win on Sunday, Malcorra was one of the heroes for the Mexico City side as his two assists helped them on their way.
LM: Elias Hernandez, Cruz Azul
It's no secret that Hernandez is one of the best wingers in Liga MX. Blessed with pace and excellent ball control, the Mexican was a headache for Queretaro's backline in the quarterfinals. Thanks to his goal and assist over the two legs, Los Cementeros are now one step closer to earning their first league title since 1997.
RW: Carlos Gonzalez, Pumas
Gonzalez is easily one of the signings of the season. After thriving with Necaxa for two tournaments, the Paraguayan has seamlessly transitioned his form to Pumas in the Apertura. Following a quiet quarterfinal first leg, the striker compensated for his conservative start to the playoffs with a goal and assist in the second leg against Tigres.
ST: Rogelio Funes Mori, Monterrey
His golazo in the first leg against Santos Laguna will go down as one of the best, if not the best, of this season's playoffs. After the goal, the Argentine striker collected another in the 2-0 victory on Saturday night. Cruz Azul's backline will have to be cautious with a forward who has been gaining some noteworthy momentum.
LW: Felipe Mora, Pumas
Two shots, two goals from Mora. With his efforts from close range, the Chilean helped push Pumas into the semifinals. The No. 3 seeds will need the striker to be just as efficient in front of net in a daunting semifinal series against Club America.
Bench: Jesus Corona (Cruz Azul), Jose Basanta (Monterrey), Pablo Aguilar (Cruz Azul), Carlos Rodriguez (Monterrey), Rafael Baca (Cruz Azul), Rubens Sambueza (Toluca), Javier Aquino (Tigres).