Toluca, Pachuca over Club America, Monterrey

The final matches of the 2022 Apertura season are now over, leaving only two teams in the running for the Liga MX title. After the latest games, here are a few talking points and final thoughts on this weekend’s two legs.

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Club America favorite title removed by Toluca

Toluca’s 6 seed was already listed before taking the field last week. Against No. 1 Club America in the semifinal round, Toluca was widely seen as a small option for the Liga MX giants who had previously beaten Puebla 11-2 on aggregate in the quarterfinals.

Then came the mistakes that seemed to double the magnitude of their problem that they say is harmless. On an error-filled evening at Club America, Toluca made a series of misjudgments and erratic moments that led to a stunning 2-1 victory in Wednesday’s first leg.

“With football, mistakes happen,” Club America manager Fernando Ortiz said after the loss, dismissing the result as unusual. “Today it happened to us.”

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At home on Saturday the second leg in the history of the Estadio Azteca, things did not go well. Las Aguilas. Toluca remained strong defensively, led by performances from defenders Haret Ortega, Valber Huerta and Andres Mosquera. In net, goalkeeper Tiago Volpi was impressed with his few saves that would have kept Club America within one goal of the weekend. With an own goal from left back Jorge Torres Nilo, Toluca finally escaped with a 3-2 result.

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Although Club America almost turned the series in their favor with a terrific goal from Henry Martin that was ruled offside — which would have sent them to the finals via the top seed — Las Aguilas they have no excuses for their final exit.

Often able to rely on a number of excellent midfield and attacking options, Club America looked lost as the likes of Diego Valdes and Richard Sanchez were blocked by Toluca’s aggressive play. Los Diablos Rojos they forced the Mexico City team to make mistakes, and in response, Ortiz entered a doubtful position in the second leg which did little to bring new ideas into the final third.

“I’m the one who caused the game to fail,” Ortiz said after the ejection, then added that “obviously I want to continue. [as manager].”

As for Toluca, a team that was defensively dominant has peaked at the right time. After winning just six games from July to September, Los Diablos Rojos and manager Ignacio “Nacho” Ambriz is on a run to the finals 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 team that has done well with a solid defense and the formation behind game changers like Volpi, Jean Meneses, and Leonardo Fernandez.

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“Eight months ago we were a disaster,” said Ambriz after defeating Club America. “Now that’s changing.”

Against No. 4 Pachuca in a two-legged tie this week, Ambriz and his squad will once again try to defy expectations.

Pachuca was upset last time after Monterrey

Toluca was not the only Liga MX club to be disappointed in the finals. Pachuca was decisive in the previous round against No.

Thursday’s first leg at home set the tone for Pachuca. Don’t be afraid of their way of attack, Los Tuzos traded jabs in an exciting start to the series that found Pachuca a little 3-2 by the 47th minute. In the beginning of the battle between the two, Monterrey shot themselves in the foot red directly in the 64th minute to Erick Aguirre, allowing Pachuca to score two extra rounds and win the first leg with 5 goals -2.

Also adept at pressuring and playing defensively when needed, manager Guillermo Almada used his usual 4-2-3-1 formation in Sunday’s second leg, leaving Monterrey frustrated with a front line that didn’t find the back of the game. net in a 1-0 loss. With veteran midfielder Oscar Ustari collecting 11 saves — and defensemen like Oscar Murillo, Gustavo Cabral and Kevin Alvarez adding more clearance — Los Tuzos it survived the attack of Monterrey that quickly ran out of ways to solve problems in the second half.

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With the entire series over, a free goal in the 95th minute for Pachuca Aviles Hurtado, who left Monterrey in 2021 with minutes remaining, was the icing on the cake for Almada and his team.

With December ahead of the 2022 Clausura, the 56-year-old Uruguayan coach has now taken his club to successive competitions. After pushing Santos Laguna to the final in the 2021 Clausura, could this be the time Almada not only wins his first Liga MX title, but also helps Pachuca claim their second Liga MX title since 2016?

“I hope so,” Almada said after winning. “We will give everything we can to achieve that goal, [but] Toluca will think the same as us, so that we win well. “

Pachuca should not ignore a Toluca side whose season is deceptive. In a league as short as Liga MX, it often takes a manager more than one season to build his roster. At their best, Los Tuzos They are a well-organized and well-coordinated team that can seamlessly switch from an aggressive approach to dropping deep and defending when necessary.

With a good mix of promising academic talent and experienced foreign signings, Pachuca could be the ones to finally leave Toluca.

Final schedule of Liga MX

Pachuca vs. Toluca
The first method: Thursday, Oct. 27 (time TBD)
Second method: Sunday, Oct. 30 (time TBD)


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