Liga MX Playoffs Are Always Batshit Crazy, So Get Ready For Uncut Insanity

The stage is set with 12 clubs vying for Mexico’s ultimate prize.

The 2020 Liga MX Apertura regular season (renamed Guardianes to honor healthcare workers) came to a close on Sunday to finalize positions for the reformatted liguilla.

The number of teams that qualify for the playoffs has been raised from eight to 12 due to the shortened season, although the top four teams still qualify directly to the quarterfinals whereas seeds five through 12 must now navigate a single-leg play-in round to make up the last eight.

The ‘Superlider’ León is joined by Pumas, América and Cruz Azul in the quarters, but the play-in round begins immediately after November’s international break with the four matches being contested the weekend of Nov. 21-22. 

The expanded format hasn’t left out any of the heavy hitters, and we’ll be treated to a couple classic matchups during a first round that promises drama with only one leg to decide things and matches going straight to penalties if it’s even after 90 minutes.   

Liga MX Guardianes 2020 Liguilla Preview

2020 Apertura Liguilla: Reclassification Round 

#5. Monterrey Vs. #12. Puebla

Monterrey 

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Guardianes Record: 8W-5D-4L | GF: 26 GA: 21

Honors: 5-Time Winners (Last was Apertura 2019)

In Attack: Rogelio Funes Mori

The 29-year-old Argentine played in all 17 Guardianes matches and led the team in both goals (six) and assists (three). 

In Defense: Nicolás Sánchez

The 34-year-old Argentine anchored the Monterrey defense while playing in every match and chipping in with five goals of his own.

Puebla

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Guardianes Record: 6W-2D-9L | GF: 22 GA: 25

Honors: 2-Time Winners (Last was 1989-90)

In Attack: Santiago Ormeño

The 26-year-old Mexican had a breakthrough season with Puebla, scoring six goals in 13 appearances.

In Defense: Brayan Angulo 

The 31-year-old Colombian played in 15 matches at left back and scored one goal and provided one assist.

#6. Tigres Vs. #11. Toluca

Tigres

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Guardianes Record: 7W-7D-3L | GF: 27 GA: 16

Honors: 7-Time Winners (Last was Clausura 2019)

In Attack: André-Pierre Gignac

The 34-year-old Frenchman — dubbed "Mr. Playoffs" — scored 11 goals and provided one assist in 17 games. 

In Defense: Jesús Dueñas

The 31-year-old Mexican defensive midfielder played in every match of the regular season while scoring one goal.

Toluca

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Guardianes Record: 6W-3D-8L | GF: 23 GA: 28

Honors: 10-Time Winners (Last was Clausura 2010)

In Attack: Rubens Sambueza 

The 36-year-old Argentine provided three goals and four assists in 17 games.

In Defense: Adrián Mora

The 23-year-old Mexican center back played in 14 matches and provided one assist.

#7. Chivas Vs. #10. Necaxa

Chivas

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Guardianes Record: 7W-5D-5L | GF: 20 GA: 17

Honors: 12-Time Winners (Last was Clausura 2017)

In Attack: Uriel Antuna 

The 23-year-old Mexican winger scored four goals and provided four assists in 15 games.

In Defense: Hiram Mier

The 31-year-old Mexican center back was a constant throughout the season, playing all 17 games.

Necaxa

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Guardianes Record: 7W-3D-7L | GF: 16 GA: 20

Honors: 3-Time Winners (Last was Invierno 1998)

In Attack: David Cabrera

The 31-year-old Mexican central midfielder is the creator with two goals and five assists in 17 games.

In Defense: Unai Bilbao 

The 26-year-old Spanish center back played in all 17 matches and contributed three goals of his own.

#8. Santos Laguna Vs. #9. Pachuca

Santos Laguna

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Guardianes Record: 7W-4L-6D | GF: 24 GA: 20

Honors: 6-Time Winners (Last was Clausura 2018)

In Attack: Julio Furch

The 31-year-old Argentine had five goals and four assists in 17 games.

In Defense: Carlos Acevedo

The 24-year-old Mexican goalkeeper played all 17 games for Santos Laguna.

Pachuca

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Guardianes Record: 6W-7D-4L | GF: 18 GA: 14

Honors: 6-Time Winners (Last was Clausura 2016)

In Attack: Víctor Dávila

The 23-year-old Chilean winger scored five goals, including a hat trick against Atlético San Luis, and provided two assists in 15 games.

In Defense: Óscar Murillo

The 32-year-old Colombian center back played in 16 matches and scored one goal.

The Quarterfinalists 

#4. Cruz Azul

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Guardianes Record: 9W-2D-6L | GF: 23 GA: 16

Honors: 8-Time Winners (Last was Invierno 1997) 

In Attack: Jonathan Rodríguez

The 27-year-old Uruguayan finished as the Apertura’s leading scorer with 12 goals in 16 games to go along with two assists. 

In Defense: Luis Romo

The 25-year-old Mexican defensive midfielder provided five assists in 16 matches.  

#3. América 

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Guardianes Record: 9W-5D-3L | GF: 31 GA: 22

Honors: 13-Time Winners (Last was Apertura 2018) 

In Attack: Henry Martín

The 27-year-old Mexican forward finished with seven goals and one assist in 17 games.

In Defense: Guillermo Ochoa

The 35-year-old Mexican goalkeeper played in 13 matches and kept two clean sheets.  

#2. Pumas 

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Guardianes Record: 8W-8D-1L | GF: 29 GA: 17

Honors: 7-Time Winners (Last was Clausura 2011) 

In Attack: Juan Dinenno

The 26-year-old Argentine had 10 goals in 17 games. 

In Defense: Alan Mozo

The 23-year-old Mexican right back played in 14 matches and provided three assists.  

#1. León

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Guardianes Record: 12W-4D-1L | GF: 27 GA: 14 

Honors: 7-Time Winners (Last was Clausura 2014) 

In Attack: Ángel Mena

The 32-year-old Ecuadorian provided seven goals and five assists in 15 appearances. 

In Defense: William Tesillo 

The 30-year-old Colombian center back played in 16 matches for the division’s joint-best defensive side.  

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