Liguilla on the line for America, Tigres: Liga MX Week 17 predictions and more!
As the final round of 2017 Clausura regular-season matches approaches, we asked our Liga MX experts Tom Marshall, Nayib Moran, Cesar Hernandez and Eric Gomez to lay out what's at stake and predict the last two Liguilla spots and relegation losers. Tijuana, Monterrey, Atlas, Chivas, Toluca and Santos Laguna have locked in top-eight finishes, but who of the chasing pack of Club America, Tigres, Morelia, Pachuca, Veracruz, Leon, Necaxa and Queretaro will complete the field?
What you can't miss this weekend
Finding out the fate of last season's finalists
Finding out the fate of last season's finalists Club America and Tigres. If both these teams fail to make the Liguilla, it would change the very complexion of the 2017 Clausura postseason. It would be wide open. On the other hand, if Tigres defeat Queretaro on Saturday and make the playoffs, the reigning champions would become the automatic favorites. And the inconsistent Club America should not be discounted if it can avoid a two-goal or more defeat by Pachuca at Estadio Azteca. -- Tom Marshall (@mexicoworldcup)
Chucky Lozano's last match with Pachuca?
Hirving "Chucky" Lozano can feel that his departure to Europe is right around the corner. The ovation he received as he stepped off the pitch in the second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League final against Tigres is a scene he will never forget. Almost every single fan at Estadio Hidalgo stood up and clapped as he was taken off in the 89th minute.
Who knows if Pachuca's visit to Estadio Azteca will be Lozano's last game in Liga MX. It's possible that the player could propel Pachuca to a brilliant performance that allows it to enter the playoffs, but if that's not the case, Lozano is likely going to give a performance that will stay in the memory of Los Tuzos' fans for years to come. Pachuca's Liguilla hopes rest on Chucky's boots. -- Nayib Moran (@nayibmoran)
Xolos eye convincing home win over Veracruz
Following a shocking 1-0 victory over Monterrey last week, Veracruz is charging into the weekend with two wins in a row. Safety from relegation is nearly guaranteed for Veracruz, leaving the motivated team with a thrilling opportunity to gain another victory that could carry it to the playoffs.
Looking over at Xolos, the club will be keen to bounce back after last week's disappointing 3-0 loss to Tigres. If manager Miguel "Piojo" Herrera hopes to enter the Liguilla with some momentum, he should be pushing his roster for a convincing win at home this Saturday night. -- Cesar Hernandez (@cesarhfutbol)
Tigres visit Queretaro with Liguilla on the line
There's one -- and only one -- team nobody wants to face in the Liguilla, and that's Tigres. Even though the defending champs have been outright mediocre during the regular season, there's no reason to suspect they can't put it together for six games with the type of roster they possess. There's a pretty decent chance Tigres won't even make the playoffs, according to FiveThirtyEight, and yet at the time of this writing only two teams have a better statistical chance of winning the title.
Queretaro is a long shot to make the playoffs, but that doesn't mean it won't try. The first -- and most important -- thing the team needs to do that is beat Tigres. Even if they ultimately don't get in, Los Gallos Blancos can still play spoiler and end their season on a high note. -- Eric Gomez (@EricGomez86)
Who grabs final two Liguilla spots?
Tigres and America
After grueling, tiring and stressful seasons, there is light at the end of the tunnel and a focus for Tigres and Club America. The beach beckons for their players, but beforehand both squads will be keen to win some silverware. And their fans demand it for differing reasons. You wouldn't expect either to slip up under pressure this weekend, given their experience and standing in the game as probably Mexico's best two clubs over recent years. -- Marshall
Although Club America will head into Week 17 amid turbulence and with a tide of changes coming its way, the side has been showing a lot of union in the past few days. A win or a draw propels Las Aguilas to the playoffs; against Pachuca, it would not be surprising to see the duo of Oribe Peralta and Diego Lainez lead the team to victory. It would be an unexpected shocker to witness a Tigres loss to Queretaro in a must-win scenario. Ricardo "Tuca" Ferretti's team has a lot of grit and experience that should allow it to reach the Liguilla. -- Moran
Club America is undoubtedly going through some internal turmoil after the departure of sporting president Ricardo Pelaez, but it can still stumble into the playoffs. All signs point to a win for Tigres against Queretaro and a place in the playoffs. Defeating the reigning champions would be a tough ask for Los Gallos Blancos, and you can easily imagine that Ferretti will have his Tigres fully prepared to steal three much-needed points. -- Hernandez
Tigres and Pachuca
Pachuca, crowned continental champion just a few days ago, will stride into Estadio Azteca to face a Club America that needs only a draw to make it through. The Mexico City giant has been hampered by injuries, mediocre attacking play and a surprisingly conservative tactician for the whole of the Clausura. Ricardo La Volpe will likely set his players up to play for a draw, while Diego Alonso's coaching DNA will push him forward. It's also going to happen for Tigres. After losing the CONCACAF Champions League final, there's no way Ferretti and his boys let the playoffs slide through their fingers. A win against Queretaro launches them into the quarterfinals and (gulp) makes them the prime candidates to win the whole shebang. -- Gomez
Who gets relegated?
Chiapas has to win and hope Morelia doesn't win away at Monterrey. It's not impossible, but keep in mind that Chiapas has not won a single Liga MX game since Feb. 26 and travels to Atlas on Saturday. In other words, Jaguares have a mammoth task to avoid the drop. -- Marshall
As much as Chiapas surprised us at the start of this season with wins over Tigres, America and Toluca, the squad fell apart at the midway point of the regular campaign. Not being able to get a win since Week 8 will be one of the main reasons for its eventual drop. -- Moran
Chiapas not only has the disadvantage of being at the bottom of the relegation table, it also has the worst goal differential of the three teams contending for the drop. If any of the sides are tied on total points after this weekend, which is definitely a possibility, the first tiebreaker is goal differential. So unfortunately for fans of Chiapas, looking at the odds, Jaguares are likely to go down. -- Hernandez
All three relegation candidates hit the road for the last weekend of the season. Tijuana will likely beat Veracruz, despite the fact that their last meeting at the border ended in a win for Tiburones. Atlas has been downright competent all season, but it's dropped three of its past four against Chiapas dating back to January 2015. In that span, the away team has won twice. Thus, it's pretty feasible to see Jaguares come out with everything they've got and take a point.
That leaves us with Morelia, which is in that weird spot you can only be in if you play in Mexico. If the team wins, it will likely make the playoffs. If it loses or even draws, it could be playing in Ascenso MX. If Monterrey wins, it can grab the top spot and maybe face Tigres in the quarterfinals, something Antonio Mohamed would relish. That means, to me at least, that Monterrey will be the most motivated out of the lot, and sets us up for a Rayados win. -- Gomez
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