Liga MX W2W4: Clasico Regio stars Mexico's best: Monterrey vs. Tigres
Ahead of this weekend's action, ESPN FC's Liga MX writers Tom Marshall, Nayib Moran and Eric Gomez look ahead to some of the league's biggest matchups and storylines.
Clasico Regio the pick of the weekend
Make no mistake, the Clasico Regio between Monterrey and Tigres is the best game Liga MX has to offer right now. The quality of both teams, the passion of the fan bases in the northern city of Monterrey and the fact Saturday's latest derby will be played in Estadio BBVA Bancomer -- one of the most modern soccer stadiums in Latin America -- make it stand out compared to the Clasico Tapatio, Clasico Joven or even the Clasico Nacional.
This is the last round of matches in the 2017 Apertura, and both Rayados and Tigres are already safely qualified for the Liguilla, but there is still a lot riding on this result. Monterrey currently top the Liga MX table on 34 points, two ahead of Tigres. A first-place finish is on the line, which would be a source of boasting for fans of one side, and if both teams reach the final, the better-placed finisher would have home-field advantage in the second leg of the final.
There's also the added ingredient of Monterrey's Aviles Hurtado and Tigres' Enner Valencia being in the race for the top-scorer award. Hurtado is currently on 10 goals, one behind Leon's Mauro Boselli. Valencia sits on nine goals. -- Tom Marshall (@mexicoworldcup)
Cruz Azul on the brink of another Liguilla appearance
We're here. It kind of feels like Cruz Azul will finally reach the Liguilla, but that feeling could radically change if Atlas beats Pachuca on Friday night. If Los Rojinegros defeat Los Tuzos at Estadio Jalisco, then Cruz Azul's Liguilla options get complicated, because first, it has to win its match against Veracruz on Saturday, and second, it has to wait on what Necaxa, Leon, Morelia and Toluca get from their matches.
If Atlas loses on Friday, the crowd at Estadio Azul will let the team know that a win puts them in the big dance. Defeating Veracruz shouldn't be a complicated task for Cruz Azul, especially considering that the last time Los Tiburones Rojos won in Estadio Azul was the 2003 Apertura. Total disaster has to happen for Los Cementeros to lose Saturday.
The idea of seeing Paco Jemez and Cruz Azul in the Liguilla will provide Mexico's playoffs with an extra, but vital, spark. To see Jemez competing against the likes of Antonio "Turco" Mohamed, Ricardo "Tuca" Ferretti and Miguel "Piojo" Herrera, all of whom know the ins and outs of the Liguilla, will be fascinating.
Cruz Azul lost its regular season games against America and Tigres, both at Estadio Azul, and drew against Monterrey. Their results aren't positive, but as everyone in Mexico knows, the Liguilla is a new season. -- Nayib Moran (@nayibmoran)
Start of Club America's fairy-tale run?
After elimination in the Copa MX semis, Club America is still an outside candidate to win the league. Seemingly gone are the days in which the Mexico City team bullied the rest of the league with its checkbook and commanded most of the media's attention with its play. Make no mistake about it: Miguel Herrera's team is second fiddle to both Monterrey sides when it comes to this year's Liguilla.
So why is this game important? Well, America has been terribly inconsistent of late, and we all know that much of Mexico's playoff tournament boils down to momentum. If America can log 90 great minutes in Torreon, suddenly the outlook changes if Las Aguilas can barrel into the quarterfinals and put in a good performance against Toluca, Necaxa, Atlas or whomever they get in the first series. After that, the likelihood of a tilt against Tigres or Monterrey in the semis becomes likely and an argument supporting Las Aguilas beating either team holds a bit more water.
Otherwise, Herrera's debut season becomes an absolute dud after the manager came back to the club following a three-year hiatus. -- Eric Gomez (@EricGomez86)