Tijuana Xolos: A Look at The Remaining Games for Realistic Playoff Contenders in the Liga MX Apertura 2017

Credit: Liga MX

Credit: LIGA MX

The Liga MX Apertura 2017 is down to its last three games of the regular season and the race for a playoff spot is as contested as expected. The Tijuana Xolos are among the seven teams that still realistically have a chance at finishing within the top eight, but are not guaranteed a spot in the playoffs just yet. It seems like the seventh and eighth-place spots are up for grabs while the top six seem like locks, with the teams already in those positions. The Xolos have a tough schedule as they will play Chivas, Leon, and Toluca and only the game against Leon will be at home. Here is a rundown of what the schedules look like for those six other teams that are fighting to crack La Liguilla.

Santos Laguna

Santos Laguna is currently in 13th place with 15 points and is one of the teams that is least expected to crack the top eight of the contending teams. Los Guerreros are one of two teams on the list that actually have four games left, due to postponed games. Weather impeded Santos Laguna from finishing its game against Monterrey in week 11 of the competition, but that will arguably be Santos’ toughest game of its last four. Monterrey is currently in first with 30 points and seems to be the clear-cut title contender in this Apertura 2017. In this upcoming week 15, the team from Torreon will host Pachuca in a game between two teams that need the three points to make the playoffs. Week 16 will be a bit easier for the Celestial Warriors, coming up against 17th-place Pumas UNAM. On paper, that should be an easy fixture for Robert Siboldi’s men, but the game will be away from home, which could make it much more complicated. Finally, Santos Laguna finishes off the regular season at home, but will have an extremely tough game, hosting second-place Club America.

Lobos BUAP

The recently promoted team that is fighting relegation and struggles to fill its stadium and turn on its lights still has a very real chance at making the playoffs. The team from Puebla is currently in 12th place with 17 points, currently only four points out of a playoff spot. The schedule isn’t easy for Lobos BUAP, but it is definitely manageable facing Necaxa, Monterrey, and Puebla. Necaxa is another team that will be seen on this list, but has proved to be a very beatable team. Monterrey will be Rafael Puente’s toughest task, but it will be at home, which could play a factor in the result. Finally, Puebla has proven to be one of the weakest teams in the Liga MX and the three points from that game should almost be guaranteed, especially if Lobos BUAP has real aspirations of finishing in the top eight.

Pachuca

Los Tuzos arguably have the best squad of the teams on this list and also arguably have the easiest schedule. Pachuca is currently in 11th with 17 points, massively underperforming, but still has a shot at redemption by making the top eight. It seems like Japanese superstar Keisuke Honda is finally adjusting well to the league and his performance could be vital in these last few games. Los Hidalguenses will start their road to a potential playoff spot against Santos Laguna this Sunday away from home, and then will host Queretaro in week 16 before finishing the regular season against Atlas at the Estadio Jalisco. All three of these games are very winnable, but two of the three will be against teams that are also fighting for a playoff spot. That last game against Atlas could especially prove to be complicated as Xolos saw that Atlas at the Estadio Jalisco is a tough fixture.

Atlas

Atlas is currently in ninth place with 19 points and does have an easier schedule ahead than most teams on this list. The team from Guadalajara is the other team on this list that has a game in hand, but it will be a very difficult match against Tigres UANL. Los Zorros start off with a very winnable game against Queretaro away from home in week 15, but then face archrivals Chivas de Guadalajara away from home in week 16 of the competition. While Chivas is not living a great moment in the Liga MX, this is still a match with very high stakes that neither team will want to lose. The last game for Jose Cruz’s team can go either way as Atlas will host Pachuca in a game where Los Rojinegros should use the home-field advantage to get a favorable result.

Credit: Liga MX

Cruz Azul

The Mexico City team is currently in a playoff spot in eighth place with 21 points, but arguably has the toughest schedule of the teams on this list. Cruz Azul hosts one of the best teams in the league Tigres UANL in week 15 then has a very tough game against Monarcas Morelia away from home. The Xolos fell 3-0 to Monarcas Morelia at the Estadio Morelos and this could prove to be an arduous task for Paco Jemez’s team. Finally, Cruz Azul will host Veracruz to cap off the regular season in a game where the three points could also be hard to obtain. While La Maquina does have more points than most of the teams on this list, it would not be surprising if the Mexico City side only managed to get a point or less from these last three games.

Necaxa

The final team on this list is Necaxa, who are currently in seventh place with 21 points, same as Cruz Azul, but with a better goal differential. The pragmatic, direct style of Ignacio Ambriz has made the team from Aguascalientes very successful this season, but it will be all for nothing if the team crashes in the final three games. Los Rayos have a rough schedule, first hosting Lobos BUAP this Saturday, then visiting the Estadio Universitario to face Tigres UANL in week 16. This fixture against Tigres UANL seems almost impossible away from home, but Necaxa recently achieved a 1-0 away win against Club America, proving that it can handle some of the better teams in the league. This game should still be extremely difficult and the last game of the regular season will not be much easier hosting Monarcas Morelia. Necaxa has a solid team and is under good care with Ignacio Ambriz, but does not have any overpowering players like Xolos’ Gustavo Bou or Tigres’ Andre-Pierre Gignac, which can be the downfall of the team.

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Francisco Velasco
Francisco, 21, Chula Vista area, Journalism student at Southwestern College. I have been a Padres fan all my life, did most of the series previews and recaps in the Padres' 2016 season for EVT. Now I focus more on the Tijuana Xolos soccer team, get press passes for every home game and write consistently about the team for EVT.

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Francisco Velasco
Francisco, 21, Chula Vista area, Journalism student at Southwestern College. I have been a Padres fan all my life, did most of the series previews and recaps in the Padres' 2016 season for EVT. Now I focus more on the Tijuana Xolos soccer team, get press passes for every home game and write consistently about the team for EVT.