Toluca, Pachuca over Club America, Monterrey

The semifinals of the 2022 Apertura season have now passed, leaving only two teams in the running for the Liga MX title. After the end of the playoff game, here are a few talking points and some thoughts before this week’s two-legged finale.

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The title favorite Club America was removed from Toluca

No. 6 seed Toluca was already noted before even stepping into the field last week. To protect No.

Then came the mistake that seemed to double the size of their supposed innocuousness. In the evening’s strange mistake for Club America, Toluca struggled with poor passing and bad timing that cost them a disappointing 2-1 victory in Wednesday’s first leg of the semifinal series.

“It’s football, mistakes happen,” said Club America manager Fernando Ortiz after the loss, brushing off the result as just a fluke. “Today they happened to us.”

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At home during Saturday’s second leg in the historic Estadio Azteca, things did not get better. Las Aguilas. Toluca also has a good defense, led by good performances from defenders Haret Ortega, Valber Huerta and Andres Mosquera. In the net, the goalkeeper Tiago Volpi had an impact with his hand on the save that will hold Club America to only one goal in the weekend. With a goal of their own from left-back Jorge Torres Nilo, Toluca eventually stole the 3-2 result.

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Although Club America almost turned the series in their favor with a huge injury goal from Henry Martin who decided to attack – which would have sent them to the final from the higher seed – Las Aguilas there is no excuse for their semifinal exit.

Often able to rely on several performances in midfield and attack, Club America appeared lost at the start as Diego Valdes and Richard Sanchez were shut out by Toluca’s tight game. Los Diablos Rojos Forced the Mexico City army to make mistakes, and in response, Ortiz changed the questions in the legs that were rarely able to bring new ideas in the final third.

“I am responsible for this sport,” said Ortiz after being kicked, then added that “obviously I want to continue. [as manager].”

As for Toluca, the once defensively weak group of players gained strength at the right time. After claiming only six wins from July to September, Los Diablos Rojos and leader Ignacio “Nacho” Ambriz is on a run to the finish line with five wins in October alone.

Ambriz was hired last December ahead of the 2022 Clausura campaign but only finished 15th in the table. In this Apertura season, he has put together a successful side with better defense and production behind game-changing players like Volpi, Jean Meneses, and Leonardo Fernandez.

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“The last eight months we’ve had a disaster,” Ambriz said of winning Club America. “Now it’s changing.”

Against No. 4 seed Pachuca in this week’s two-legged championship series, Ambriz and his team players will seek to fight against expectations once again.


Pachuca returned the upset after Monterrey

Toluca is not the only Liga MX club to get an upset in the semifinals. Pachuca was confident in the last match against No. 2 seed Monterrey, eventually defeated the favorites 6-2 on aggregate.

Thursday’s first leg at home sets the tone for Pachuca. Fearless with their opposition-minded, Los Tuzos exchanged jabs in a happy start to the series that saw Pachuca narrowly down 3-2 by the 47th minute. At the start of the battle between the two, Monterrey then shot themselves in the foot by sending a straight red card in the 64th minute to Erick Aguirre, allowing Pachuca to score two more goals and win the first leg with 5-2 scoreline.

Adept at absorbing pressure and playing defense if needed, manager Guillermo Almada used a lot of promise from his usual 4-2-3-1 formation in Sunday’s second leg, making for there is an anxiety on the Monterrey front that cannot be found behind. net in a 1-0 loss. With veteran goalkeeper Oscar Ustari picking up 11 saves – and defenders like Oscar Murillo, Gustavo Cabral and Kevin Alvarez including several clearances and tackles – Los Tuzos surviving Monterrey’s attack that quickly ran out of solutions from the second half.

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With everything but wrapped up, the penalty goal in the 95th minute for Pachuca’s Aviles Hurtado, who left Monterrey in 2021 after no minutes, was the perfect cake for Almada and his team .

Arriving in December ahead of the 2022 Clausura campaign, the 56-year-old Uruguayan coach is now leading his club to a back-to-back campaign. After still pushing Santos Laguna to the finals in the 2021 Clausura, this could finally be the moment that Almada not only wins his first Liga MX title, but also helps Pachuca claim their second Liga MX championship since 2016?

“Hopefully,” Almada said after the win. “We will give our all to achieve the goal, [but] Toluca will think the same as us, so will win the best. “

Pachuca should not look aside Toluca whose regular work can be deceptive. In a short competition like Liga MX, it can often take a manager more than one season to get his name to click. At their best, Los Tuzos is a more cohesive and efficient team that can switch from being aggressive on the attack to downsizing and defending if needed.

With a good combination of promising talent and the experience of signing abroad, Pachuca could be the ones to finally stop the Toluca underdogs.


Liga MX deadline

Pachuca vs. Toluca
First leg: Thursday, October 27 (time TBD)
Two branches: Sunday, October 30 (time TBD)

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