2017 Clausura Liguilla Quarterfinal recap

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Greetings Cantina Patrons, we hope you have been enjoying the 2017 Liga MX Clausura playoffs as much as we have. Despite there being no surprises in the first round match-up results we can confirm that our podcast predictions were spot on. So, grab a pint of something frosty, pull up a chair and join us for this weeks round up.

I Feel Your Pain Bro

As expected the Rojinegros of Atlas once again crashed from the playoffs to the dismay of their hopefull fans. We were going to say without pain nor glory but judging by some of their fans reactions there clearly was much pain. The ‘Rojinegros’ last league Campionship was in the 1950-1951 season – 66 years ago. While Atlas were not favorites for the league title a victory over Chivas was very much in he cards. Atlas had won the first leg, at home at Jalisco stadium, by one goal. Perhaps, it wasn’t much of a difference but Chivas had now strubg together a five match winless streak having only scored once and off a penalty kick. Needles to say the Goats dominated the second-leg and leveled the series 1-1 to advance by having finished the season in better standing. “Ah you think failure plagues you? said the Atlista to the Cruz Azul fan. “You merely adopted the Cruzazuleada. I was born in it, molded by it. I didn’t see the light until I was already a man, by then it was nothing to me but blinding!”

Morelia’s fairytale comes to an End

Morelia had a thrilling finish to the regular season where they not only avoided relegation but managed to sneak into the league playoffs. Their first-round match-up against Xolos of Tijuana looked promising with the Monarchs edging out a one-nil win at home at Morelos stadium. However, just as it appeared that the curse of the league leaders was going to be set in motion Xolos made the most of the Caliente Stadium home advantage to win by two goals and advance to the semifinal.Perhaps the curse is not over yet as Tijuana must not face the mighty Tigres. “They are a great rival, champions of Mexico and have everything to repeat but we are concentrated on turding the tide in our favor,” said Miguel ‘Piojo’ Herrera after the match.

Chorizo Power loses it’s Spice

It might not seem like it, as there had been little noise, but the Diablos Rojos of Toluca are celebrating their centenial and expect to make the final to celebrate with a Championship win. The Diablos arrived to the playoffs on a four match winless streak only to stun Santos, at the Corona stadium, with a resounding 4-1 victory! All seemed well for the ‘Choriceros’ but on the return their leg they were made to suffer in their own devil’s cauldron of the Bombonera stadium. Santos very close of tying the series, winning 3-1, and putting the fear of God into the devils. “It seems that at home we are scared to execure our gameplay. I say it seems like it because I do not think it is fear, it is anxiety of wanting to do everything right and become unbeatable,’ Toluca boss Hernan Cristante told reporters after the match. Toluca’s next opponent will be another club that is having a difficlt time of winning at home: Chivas!

Savage Takedown!

There is nothing worse than losing to your cross town rivals like losing to them in lopsided fashion during the league playoffs. The Rayados Monterrey were no match for an on-fire Andre-Pierre Gignac and his Tigres who won the series with a humiliating 6-1 fashion: losing 4-1 at the Volcano followed by a 2-0 defeat at home. “This is the worst pain I have felt since being here, it is a difficult blow, I am beaten, very sad for what happened in this series. I want to thank the fans who supported us until the final minute…I am responsible for this defeat. Today I am beaten, truth be told I am hurt and sad because we could not achieved what we wanted,” lamented Antonio ‘Turco’ Mohamed during post match press conference.

Savage beatdown!


Following up on the Savage Takedown in Monterrey, there were also scenes of violence. For the second time(1st being in Veracruz) this season in opposing team’s stadiums, Tigres fans get fists flying at their faces and it wasn’t a fair fight. I read in one article, 50 fans taking turns beating a couple of Tigres fans. Just brutal. Why did this happen? During the return leg game in Rayado dominated BBVA stadium, when Tigres was obviously going to win the series, announcers commented that Nahuel Guzman was making fun of Edwin Cardona, by inflating his cheeks, calling him gordo/fat! The gloating may have gotten out of control on the field and spread to the fans, who had to be upset with their team’s result in the first place. The gloating was just adding fuel to the fire. These are the times where you need to wear the opposing team’s jersey underneath your team’s colors, just in case you are fleeing for your life.

Mole Tour Roster

NEW YORK (Tuesday, May 16, 2017) – The Mexican National Team held a press conference today to announce its roster ahead of upcoming matches against Croatia at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum, on May 27, presented by Nissan, and against Ireland at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford on June 1.

MEXICO NATIONAL TEAM ROSTER:

Goalkeepers: Jesús Corona (Cruz Azul), Guillermo Ochoa (Granada), Alfredo Talavera** (Toluca)

Defenders: Oswaldo Alanís** (Guadalajara), Néstor Araujo (Santos Laguna), Raúl López (Pachuca), Rafael Márquez (Atlas), Héctor Moreno (PSV Eindhoven), Diego Reyes (Espanyol), Luis Reyes (Atlas), Carlos Salcedo*** (Fiorentina)

Midfielders: Jonathan Dos Santos (Villarreal), Jesús Dueñas** (Tigres), Andrés Guardado (PSV Eindhoven), Erick Gutiérrez (Pachuca), Elías Hernández (León), Jorge Hernández (Pachuca), Héctor Herrera (Porto FC), Miguel Layún (Porto FC), Jesús Molina (Monterrey), Orbelín Pineda** (Guadalajara)

Forwards: Javier Aquino** (Tigres), Jesús Manuel Corona (Porto FC), Jurgen Damm** (Tigres), Marco Fabián*** (Eintracht Frankfurt), Jesús Gallardo (Pumas), Javier Hernández (Bayer Leverkusen), Raúl Jiménez** (Benfica), Hirving Lozano (Pachuca), Oribe Peralta (América), Carlos Vela (Real Sociedad)

**Pending approval from his club
***Only available for New York game

Ep. 84: CantinaMX Futbol Podcast – Tigueres bringing it, Liguilla in effect!

We discuss the in progress Liguilla in this episode, highlighting the Tigres win over Rayados and how Dueñas is running on all cylinders as well as Gignac coming out of his shell! Just ignore his failed “dab” attempt. We also dive into Chivas and how they are not impressing, even though they have the excuse of some injuries. Finally we discuss Santos and how they are pretty much done, as well as Xolos and how they still have hope in the return leg in Tijuana!

Glad you could listen, stay tuned.

Ep. 62: QEPD: Dos a Zero Futbol Podcast – Liguilla is set!

Sad FluteLigaMX is over and Liguilla is set. We were ready to enjoy some good ribbing of Monterrey’s failure to qualify for the post season tournament. Our fellow rayado, Fernando was not present, however. We dedicate “sad flute” song to him.

We did analyze the matchups and made predictions. We also talked Copa Libertadores and even the USMNT firing of Jurgen Klinsmann.

Ep. 36: Dos a Zero Futbol Podcast – America is still on someone’s mind. :D

manoIn this episode that took place on Wed Night, day before the Liguilla Final partido de Ida, we talked America, America and more America. With a mix of Arbitro. This episode of the podcast was cut short, but contains a good hour 2 panelists going against the sole Americanista on the whole Samudio drama as well as lack of quality reffing.

The hand ball was discussed, the notion that the ref helps America was also discussed. It was a passionate discussion between the 2 sides.

Also we began some discussion on the 10-8 rule in LigaMX and more. Tune in on iTunes.

The Gentlemen Break Down the Liguilla

In the latest edition of the (and freshly rebranded) Gentlemen’s agreement, (nee Weekend at Joely’s) futmexsource.com correspondent Joel Aceves and soccerchronicle.com writer, John Jagou take a look at the 3 big mid-week fixtures, including Pumas’ Libertadores quarterfinal.

 

John Jagou:  I felt bad for Gullit this weekend. He could have increased his hit points and attained legend level status with Chivas fans, but the cross bar said otherwise. And then our friend Oribe scores another huge goal to add to his legend.  It is why Osorio has to take him to Copa America. There is no Mexican player who has come up as big and as consistently as Oribe over the past decade.

 

Joel Aceves:  Gullit has gained a reputation for lacking testicular fortitude.  It is the alleged he lost his starting spot in Mexico’s World Cup squad.  Agreed on Oribe, he even has shown to have the quality to bench Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez! In any case the Horrible One should be a welcome addition to either Olympic or Copa America squad.

 

JJ: I do recall hearing the same thing about Gullit, that he did not deal well when the pressure was ratcheted up, and it cost him in Brazil. You saw some of that when he first played with Chivas, but it seemed like Almeyda had gotten him to calm down and not press. Regardless, the season overall was a good turn of events for Chivas. If they can manage to avoid a slump in the coming Apertura, they can finally, after 3 years, exorcise the relegation fantasma. That should help them play with a lot more confidence. It has been a while since I have said this, but I am bullish on Chivas, provided they find a goal-scorer.

 

JA:  Mexico Boss Juan Carlos Osorio claims that it was his call to Gullit that set the player straight. He is on record saying that he talked to el Lagrimas Esmeraldas and told him to set aside his personal problems and that if he regained his level he would be called up to the national team again.

Next season will be key for Chivas, which have already climbed to 13th place of the relegation chart. Below them are Atlas, Morelia, Puebla, Veracruz, and whichever team gets promoted (either Necaxa or Juarez). As for finding a goal-scorer, Chivas’ best bet will be their Cantera,

 

JJ:  Over to America. As much as it pains you to admit, you have to be really impressed with the job that Ricardo Peláez has done at Club América several years ago. The club was in complete disarray, even flirting with relegation before he took over. Since then, they have become the model club in Liga MX.

In a sense, he has made America hated again. 4 titles with 3 coaches, but with essentially the same base of players. If they manage to win the title this season, it will be even more impressive because they will have defeated 3 of the 5 best teams in the league this season.

 

JA: On the contrary John, I’ve actually been an advocate for Peláez as it was a welcome change in Liga MX. Nestor de la Torre had been doing a similar job at Chivas. Granted not as successful but the team was very consistent:  won the league title, then played two semifinals after that, in addition to a Copa Libertadores final.  It is no coincidence that the club fell apart once he left.

With Peláez, I like that America’s board of directors have given him complete confidence to run the club.   In the past we have seen coaches come into a club like a snake oil salesman, making big promises.  The club would then supply Mr. Snake Oil a brand new roster of players, and when that coach’s fails to meet the high expectations he had set himself,  it’s on to the next quick fixer.

Peláez has shown that long term planning has its merits. He sacked coaches that were not willing to be part of the club’s process. Those were risky moves on his part as was hiring the low profile Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Ambriz but the club’s success has shown that Peláez has been right all along. My hope is for more Liga MX clubs to take this approach as I feel it will lead to a more competitive league.

 

JJ:  I am not so sure your fellow Chivas compatriots would understand or appreciate your healthy respect for Club América’s recent fortune. Some maybe asking to revoke your credentials. But there is something to be said about continuity. And it makes much more of an impact when a club with America’s pedigree succeeds because of it. If Liga MX turns into a copycat league, then, as you stated, the league will become more competitive.

A certain degree of continuity also be used to describe how Pachuca and León have worked themselves into the top echelon of the Liga MX as well. Both of them had good wins to advance to the Liguilla semis, where they will face each other. Pachuca’s kids are fun to watch, but Leon’s Elias Hernandez has been spectacular this season. He deserves a chance to play in Copa America.

 

JA:  No need to revoke my Goat creds.  I’m about to hand them in myself. Chivas CEO (Jose Luis Higuera) and General Manager (Jaime Ordiales) are known Americanistas. And the club owner (Jorge Vergara) is rumored to be an Atlista. His first foray into Liga MX was to sponsor Atlas and then even tried to buy them. I maintain hope that Vergara’s ex wife Angelica Fuentes, who owns 49% of Chivas, will sell her shares to a proper investor that can then buy out Jorge. Cough Slim Cough

While Leon and Pachuca have been on the right path it is America that has taken the spotlight. For the greater good of the league, America’s success in Concachampions, and even at the Club’s World Cup can influence other clubs to take the same approach:  having a set of goals to reach instead of betting on a coach and mid-season transfers to turn things around.  Last season Cruz Azul brought in Eduardo ‘Yayo’ de la Torre as GM, so it will be interesting to see how much freedom he will have to shape the club. As we can see Yayo has bet on continuity with Tomas Boy remaining at the helm. In the past he would of been gone once the final match-day whistle signaled the Maquina’s latest fracaso.

 

JJ:  Pumas did the same with Antonio Sancho. And they also were judicious in their recent acquisitions — most already Liga MX veterans.  They may not be in the liguilla, but their season is not over yet.

And we can also say that this season was one that was not pockmarked by coach firings. In the not so recent past, it was normal to have 6-10 coaches given the boot at midseason. Some teams would have 3 coaches for the 17 games. So maybe this is the new normal in Liga MX.

The king of continuity is Tuca Ferreti.  Tuca has coached Tigres for 6 years, which is incredible for Liga MX. It is unfortunate that the series with Monterrey was marred by bad officiating and then baiting Tuca into one of his classic eruptions. What the press won’t show, though, is Tuca going back and calmly answering questions.

 

JA:  Well then, I guess we can say that the trend is catching on. We can add Toluca to the list who under Jose Saturnino Cardozo played two Liguilla semifinals. And like Pumas dominated the Copa Librtadores group stage. Unfortunately, Toluca had one bad game against a Brazilian giants Sao Paulo.

That said both Pumas and Toluca failed to make the Liguilla, which I blame on the short season which, ironically, has been one of the most influential factors in Liga MX club owners’ erratic behavior in their quest for instant results with the quick fix.

 

JJ:  I don’t mind that Pumas didn’t make the liguilla. I would much rather they focus on the Libertadores anyway, which they can do now without any distractions. A few years ago when Monterrey won their first title under Vucetich, they chose to play the Libertadores with reserves. The reigning champions at the time had an opportunity to measure themselves against SA’s best, and they play with reserves.  Baffling!

Take the shot when you have it because you never know when you’ll get another chance.  Pumas has a legitimate shot at the semis after a 10 year absence in the tournament. It is a busy midweek schedule. Pumas vs Independiente del Valle (ECU) on Tuesday, América-Rayados Wednesday, and Leon-Pachuca Thursday. Who you got?

 

JA:  I’m going with Pumas over Independiente not just because they represent Mexican soccer but because I’d like to believe we have a better league than Ecuador.

In my opinion America-Rayados is the final adelantada and the winner should lift the Liga MX title. I got the sense that Rayados showed some weakness against Tigres in the quarterfinals that America can exploit. So, I will side with the Wilas on this one.

Leon-Pachuca is the Grupo Pachuca Clasico. We’ve all seen what happens when teams owned by the same owner meet: the main club gets favored and in this case it’s the Tuzos.

So, we can be seeing an America vs. Pachuca final: two clubs that have bet on a long term project and continuity. Maybe this is becoming a trend. Latest news is that Vergara offered Matias Almeyda a five year coaching contract.

 

JJ:  I also hope to see Pumas through, but it will be a lot tougher than people expect.  Independiente did just bounce none other than the defending champs, River Plate.  So they are no pushover by any means.

Monterrey’s discipline will make Club America unravel, and Pachuca will prevail over Leon because the last time they played in the liguilla, Leon won.

It’s daddy’s turn.

As always a pleasure, Joel.

 

JA:  Same here.  I am really enjoying these chats.

 

JJ:  As am I.  Hopefully the readers are as well.

 

Catch John and Joel every Wednesday on the Dos A Zero Futbol Podcast live on youtube at 9pm CT, or on itunes.

Follow Joel on twitter @joelyaceves

Follow John on twitter @jjagou

Ep. 34: Dos a Zero Futbol Podcast – Liguilla 1st leg, emo-CH14 and more.

Tigres UANL sadAn exciting 1st leg with 2 clasicos is now over and we talk all about it. The clasico regio had goals scored, but the clasico nacional was just as exciting even with a 0-0 tie. We talk about how Monterrey played counter attack ball and didn’t have as much possession as Tigres, but still came out with the win. These Rayado tactics being similar to USMNT.

Refereeing was an issue brought up as we talked America vs Chivas. Red cards were expected from the hot head Aguilas.

We also talked a little bit of Chicharito and his recent interview with Gonzo Pineda. How he has been critical of certain press outlets as well as not giving interviews to some.

Going to the image of this post of the Tigres fan shedding some tears, we discussed how the production of these games goes and if producers actually have cameramen searching for these emotional moments. Next time you are at the stadium, be sure to hold back those tears. 😀

Let’s Fix the Liguilla


It is something that has happened every year since 1970. That means that except for a small handful of people that are reading this, the only way you have ever seen Liga MX crown their champion is at the conclusion of the famous Liguilla. So for all the talk about changing the season format, and changing the post-season format, one thing is very clear. The Liguilla is just not going away.

Does not mean it cannot be tinkered with, though.

There has been some tinkering over the years. The best thing the string-pullers have done over the last few years is to eliminate the Repechaje (Wild Card round for the monolinguals). A 10 team playoff in a league of 18 was just silly. It was a move in the right direction. The other major modification that has had an impact was changing the tie breaker. It used to be that the first tie breaker was the seeding. In other words, the lower seeds had to win the series no matter what. The first year this new wrinkle was added, there was a major casualty. Can anyone guess who fell victim to the tie-breaker? If your first (and frankly, it should be your only) inclination was to say Cruz Azul. You are right! And you move on to the next round.

It happened in the C14 season. #8 Leon and Cruz Azul ended level after their tie, but Leon made it through to the next round because away goals became the first tie breaker. Ay ay ay, Cruz Azul! If it were up to me, I would set up the liguilla tie breakers in the following way:

1st round – Higher seed advances if tied on aggregate
Semifinals – Away goals
Final – No tie breaker – penalties decide champion.

Of course, I am making the assumption that there would still be 8 teams that qualify for the post-season. Which would be a good number if the season was not split in half as it is now. Which segues nicely into my next proposal: limit entrants to the fiesta grande.

If we have to deal with 2-season seasons, then 8 teams are too many. It cheapens (or chepoes, depending on how you feel about the man) the regular season. Not to mention, and I quote soccerchronicle.com regular contributor, Joel Aceves “it rewards mediocrity.” He is right. Now, I am also a realistic man. The reason there are that many teams in the post-season is that there will be more games to broadcast. I get that. So while my gut tells me that a 4-team post season would be best, the business man in me says a reduction to 6 teams would be the most palatable.

So the top 2 seeds would get a bye after the 3-6 teams play a one off over the weekend. Tie breakers would be the same as above.

1st round – Penalties after 90 minutes
Semifinals – Away goals
Final – No tie breaker – penalties decide champion

6 teams out of 18 would not cheapen the regular season as much, and would make for some very dramatic finishes over the last few weeks.

What are your thoughts?

Listen to the dos a zero futbol podcast at a special time Thursday at 11pm CDT and Sunday night at the conclusion of the Pachuca – Santos.  Catch all previous editions on itunes.

Follow me on twitter @jjagou

Tigres makes quick work of Pumas

It did not take long for Tigres to take the initiative in the Liga MX Apertura final vs Pumas.  It was all of 10 minutes before the Monterrey side grabbed hold of the series and looks to not let go.

For some, the penalty called against Pumas’ Javier Cortés was karmic justice.  It was Cortés’ tackle that led to the fracture of America’s Javier Güémez last week in the their semifinal.  Cortés was not carded or even called for a foul.  Andre Pierre Gignac, the French international who has been nothing short of sensational since his arrival to the Sultana del Norte this past summer, delivered a thundering, unstoppable blast.  It was 1-0, but it may well have been 10-0.  The rout was on.  The Frenchman, along with his strike partner, former Brazilian international Rafael Sobis, had their way with a Pumas backline that has picked the worst time in the season to become ball watchers.  Their inability to control the scoring tandem was only compounded by the fact that Tigres’ wingers, Javier Aquino and Jurgen Damm, feasted on their slower defenders.  And then there was the complete control in the midfield by Guido Pizarro.  The Argentine, like most holding midfielders, will never get the recognition he deserves, but the way he dominated the middle of the pitch was as close to an MVP performance as one can see at a championship game.  There is a reason why the strikers and wingers were so effective. The reason last night was Pizarro.

One would have never known that Damm was playing with an injury that limited his effectiveness.  Pumas had no answer for the right winger’s deep runs, where Damm set up his wingman Aquino with the second.

2 goals for Pumas to overcome was always going to be difficult, but a third would be borderline insurmountable.  And that is exactly what happened early in the second half as Sobis, tipped in a Gignac shot that Pikolin Palacios could only parry away. It is interesting that for the second week in a row, a team will take a 3-goal lead to the second leg to Mexico’s Olympic Stadium on Sunday.  The difference here is Pumas is just not equipped to take the offensive initiative like Club America was.  They are an absorb and counter side that used the strategy to great success during the season.

Now they will have to press a team whose coach, Tuca Ferretti, despite having more than 70% possession in the first leg, can’t shake his reputation as being the cat mouse coach.  It is true that Tuca has softened a little; his teams play a little more offensively than before.  But when they need, they counter, and like they showed last week in Toluca, it is still as lethal as ever

There are still 90 minutes left to play, and we all know that anything can happen.  But Tigres is the team that has the most talent, and playing the best soccer right now.  And Tuca is still Tuca.  They can be be more offensive, but order and shape is still what he cares about most.

What it all means is that come Sunday night, for the 2nd time in two months, Tuca will emerge sans moustache and Tigres will have their 4th trophy in hand.

Tigres Offense vs Pumas Defense Stats preview

Pumas vs TigresSo Martin Del Palacio has been putting up some great Youtube videos analyzing the statistics side of these Liguilla games. You can find his videos here!

I wanted to review a quick video he covered in text format for you to read. This is what he gathered. Props and credit to Martin:

Pumas Defense:

Pikolin the best goalkeeper in LigaMX?

Stats during Apertura 2015 for Pikolin Palacios (Pumas goalkeeper):

  • Most shots received at 126
  • Blocked 83 of those shots. (Best in League of all keepers)
  • 20 goals received. (2nd Best in League)

Pumas gave up 1 goal for every 15.5 shots on goal.

Tigres Offense:

Stats during Apertura 2015 for Andre Pierre Gignac (Tigres goalscorer):

  • 48 shots on goal. (league leader)
  • 1 goal for every 4.36 shots. (Last place amongst top 10 goal scorers)

As a reference lets look at Ismael Sosa’s numbers:

  • 22 shots on goal.
  • 1 goal for every 2.2 shots.

 

Offense as a team:

Tigres:

  • 1 goal for every 10 shots

Pumas:

  • 1 goal for every 5.8 shots

 

So based on these stats, Pumas takes advantage of their opportunities. Tigres creates and has more opportunities, but has a lower percentage of effectiveness. Additionally Pikolin and the Pumas defense has been solid in keeping the ball out of the net. This was displayed in the 1st leg of the America semifinal game, where America dominated but was not able to score on the Pumas defense, even though they had the majority of possession.

It should be an interesting game tonight.

Much thanks to Martin, who you can find on twitter @martindelp

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