By Dan Price
After the euphoric high of Club America beating Montreal in the final 45 minutes of the two-legged CONCACAF Champions League final on Wednesday night, the Liga MX returns this weekend with plenty of its own drama in store.
There are now only two weeks remaining the regular season. With a mere six points separating Chivas in first from Chiapas in fourteenth and with Puebla and Leones Negros locked a bitter relegation battle, there is still lot’s to play for across the entire league.
Tigres UANL vs Chivas de Guadalajara (Saturday, 8pm ET)
The most ‘box office’ fixture of the weekend sees league leaders Chivas travel to face in-form Tigres for a game that could go a long way to deciding who ends up as the SuperLider next week.
While it might not have the international pulling power of Saturday night’s Pacquiao vs Mayweather boxing fight, for the highly passionate fan-bases of the two clubs there is no doubt about which occasion is the headline event.
Tigres have hit their stride at exactly the right time. After suffering a hangover from their Apertura final loss to Club America in the first two months of the season, their ongoing stunning form in the Copa Libertadores has finally started to translate into improved league form.
They've now won four of their last six Liga MX games, with the sole loss coming to Cruz Azul, a game
which arrived directly after their energy-sapping 2-2 draw with River Plate.
Chivas have also confounded the critics since January, but after winning five out of seven games between late February and early April they have hit a wobble in recent times, drawing three of their last four and only scoring five times in their last five outings. Tigres have scored six in two.
A win for the visitors would assure them a place in the postseason, while Tigres could also claim their Liguilla place with a victory if other results go in their favour.
Prediction: Tigres 2-0 Chivas
Puebla vs Club Leon (Saturday, 6pm ET) and Leones Negros vs Veracruz (Sunday, 6pm ET)
The relegation battle is going down to the wire. Chivas and Veracruz both secured their safety a couple of weeks ago, meaning one of either Puebla or Leones Negros will be playing in the second tier next season.
Relegation would be harsh on Puebla – in the six seasons that are used to calculate the relegated side they have never actually finished in last place. It would be similarly harsh on Leones Negros – considering they are a newly promoted side they have occasionally played with a swagger and vitality that some of their rivals would love to replicate.
It’s clear the relegation system is flawed. Since the summer of 2014, Leones Negros and Puebla have amassed 12 points more than Morelia – a team which has only won four out of 32 games and is set to finish both the Clausura and Apertura as the league’s bottom side.
The permutations for relegation are numerous and complex, but if Puebla were lose at home to Leon, then Leones Negros could secure their safety on Sunday afternoon with a win against Veracruz. Any other combination of results would send the fight to the final weekend, with Puebla traveling to Santos Laguna on Friday night then Leones Negros visiting Cruz Azul on Saturday evening.
Predictions: Puebla 1-1 Club Leon // Leones Negros 1-2 Veracruz