Puebla and Leones Negros battling against Liga MX relegation
If the Liga MX was truly fair, it would be Morelia who would be relegated. La Monarquia have only won four league games since last summer and have been horrific in nearly all areas of the pitch. This season, every team must have been eager for an opportunity to take on a squad that had only won two matches in last year's Apertura.
Luckily for Morelia, the current relegation system in use for the Liga MX focuses not only on recent results, but ones that stretch back during the past three years, or six tournaments. A points-per-game ratio is then utilized to select which team will be dropped at the end of every Clausura.
Despite the awful year Morelia is having, the two worst squads -- at least according to the relegation table -- are Puebla and Leones Negros.
At first, it was easy to feel pity for both clubs who didn't deserve to be dropped, but it has become increasingly difficult to sympathize with them as the relegation race has progressed. Puebla and Leones Negros continue to lose match after match, allowing other relegation-prone clubs like Veracruz and Chivas to avoid the possibility of a demotion.
In April, it was hard to justify any bitterness towards Morelia not being relegated. While Puebla and Leones Negros went the whole month without a win, La Monarquia had the slightly better form with a 2-0 win over Cruz Azul on April 18.
Over the weekend, La Franja finally stepped up in their second-to-last game of the regular season. Argentine striker Matias Alustiza scored twice for Puebla and solidified a 2-0 win over Leon. Before the match, the relegation race was neck-and-neck with both teams dropping points constantly. Puebla's win -- which was the first since Feb. 28 -- provided the club with a small advantage over Leones Negros.
The ball was then in Los Melenudos' court, or pitch if you will.
On Sunday, Leones Negros had the early 1-0 lead over Veracruz, and more opportunities on net, but failed to hold onto a win at home in the Estadio Jalisco. The Guadalajara club gave up two second-half goals and an opportunity to have the upper hand over La Franja going into the final week of the Clausura. It was a damaging defeat and one that moved the Guadalajara team one step closer to Mexico's second division in the Liga Ascenso.
Now, the Guadalajara club still has a chance of avoiding a demotion, but will likely need some luck on its side. A win against Cruz Azul is now necessary, along with a loss for Puebla against Santos. A win for Los Melenudos and a tie for Puebla would keep the two relegation candidates level on the points-per-game ratio, but the tiebreaker -- which is goal differential -- would heavily favor Puebla.
Unless if Leones Negros is confident of finding an absurd 10-0 win against Cruz Azul in the final week, the team must pray for Puebla to lose against Santos Laguna.
You can genuinely feel bad for every Leones Negros fan who has had to watch the club constantly fail during the past couple of months. In the last six games, the squad has only scored a total of three goals. Ecuadorian striker Fidel Martinez is currently the team's leading goal-scorer with six so far this Clausura, but the problem with Leones Negros is that when he doesn't score, nobody else does.
Only two of Leones Negros' 11 goals this season came from players other than Martinez. In fact, another three of those 11 were own-goals that have occurred since March of this year. That means nearly 30 percent of the goals scored this year for Los Melenudos were own-goals.
Defensively, the squad has been surprisingly decent. Leones Negros only allowed more than two goals in a match once this season and has only allowed nine goals total in the seven away games -- the exact same number of goals that Club America and Tigres have allowed in their away matches. The obvious culprit is the lack of force in attack, and due to that, Los Melenudos struggled to amass wins and points this Clausura.
Morelia is easily the worst team in the league, but Leones Negros appears to be ending the season as if the squad is attempting to challenge that title. Los Melenudos had a few surprising wins in late February and early March, but haven't done much since then. Leones Negros hasn't won a game since March 13.
All this being said, there is still a small chance for salvation. Cruz Azul has appeared vulnerable during the past couple of months and may prove to be a lesser threat for Leones Negros than Santos Laguna for Puebla.
It's easy feel bad for the Guadalajara team, but recently, the club hasn't done much to help itself.
Cesar Hernandez covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @cesarhfutbol.