We’ve arrived to the top 4 in the competition. Here is the preview.
5. Chivas vs. 8. Santos Laguna
Underdog is a word that is used a lot today in sports. For the first time in Liga MX history, the top four seeded teams failed to reach the next round of the Liguilla. A surprise? Yes, but to call each one of these teams underdogs would be an argument against the parity of the league.
Santos Laguna went into the Liguilla as the last seeded team of the competition, but they crafted out a 1-0 aggregate victory against first-place Tigres. On paper, it looked like a shocking victory, but on the field it was a game played at mid-tempo and of few chances. Long ball tactics won Santos that game, but Santos manager, Caixinha, would be the first to tell you that it doesn’t matter how you win.
In front of Santos is Chivas. The Rebaño Sagrado booked their place in the semifinals by easing their way past crosstown rivals Atlas in a game marred by violence at the Estadio Jalisco. It was almost unfair the violence had to steal away some of the headlines from a masterful performance from Marco Fabian. The Mexican international scored three goals in under 45 minutes to seal his team a place in the next round.
In addition, “DJ” Enriquez, who was filling in for the injured Carlos Salcido, looked stellar, and it is that kind of depth on all their lines that continues to label Chivas as a serious title contender.
6. Queretaro vs. 7. Pachuca
It is a clash between the experienced manager and the Liga MX newcomer. For Queretaro’s Victor Manuel Vucetich, his 18 liguillas and five league titles speak for themselves. Morever, since taking over at Gallos Blancos mid-season, Vucetich has an impressive record of eight victories, one draw, and three defeats. Diego Alonso, on the other hand, was the author of Club America’s demise in the quarterfinals. The 40-year-old manager will be looking to reach his first Liga MX final after only six months in charge of Pachuca.
But the tie is perhaps tainted with the absence of three youngsters: Queretaro’s Orbelin Pineda, and Hirving Lozano and Erick Gutierrez from Pachuca. Pineda was at the forefront of every Queretaro attack throughout the season, while Erick Gutierrez and Hirving Lozano were pillars in Diego Alonso’s system.
Despite the absences, however, both teams have more than enough to make the final push to the Liga MX final. The margins may be small, but both teams have absolutely nothing to lose. At the end of 180 minutes, only one team will be able to call themselves a Liga MX finalist.