Final Liga MX Power Rankings: Apertura 2021

América edged the visiting Tigres 1-0 back on Oct. 23 in a game that could have been a Liga MX finals preview. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)
América edged the visiting Tigres 1-0 back on Oct. 23 in a game that could have been a Liga MX finals preview. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images) /
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Liga MX final rankings
The Pumas pulled off a miracle finish to claim a wildcard spot, overcoming a 3-1 halftime deficit to defeat holders Cruz Azul in their season finale. (Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

Big 4 members Chivas, Pumas can finally exhale

10. Guadalajara (+3)

The Chivas were a godawful mess for long stretches of the Apertura 2021, frequently dealing with disciplinary issues, and the injuries/absences didn’t help. In the first seven games after firing coach Víctor Manuel Vucetich, “El Rebaño Sagrado” went 1-3-3 and there was genuine concern that the “Most Popular Club in Mexico” would miss out on the playoffs. Fortunately, there was considerable mediocre play by Guadalajara’s rivals for wildcard spots. A road win at Mazatlán FC in the season finale was enough to claim the No. 10 seed and a date against Puebla.

11. UNAM (—)

In crisis mode by mid-September, the club sacked the president and general manager, giving new vice president of football operations Miguel Mejía Baron just enough time to sign Brazilian Diogo to boost the listless offense. After losing at América on Oct. 3, the Pumas were in 17th place with a 1-5-4 record. Then it happened. A three-game win streak gave the team life until a 3-0 home loss in their penultimate match had the Pumas on life support. Down 3-1 at the half in the finale against Cruz Azul, it was all over, right? Nope. Diogo stepped forward with an assist and two goals and UNAM miraculously stole into a wildcard spot.

12. Atlético de San Luis (+3)

The Tuneros took advantage of the early season mayhem at other clubs (34 international players on duty at either the Gold Cup or the Olympics) to pile up some points before finally leveling off in mid-season. Three consecutive draws down the stretch proved to be just enough to pip Mazatlán FC at the finish line, swiping the final wildcard berth from the Cañoneros by virtue of a better negative goal differential (–4 compared to Mazatlán’s –6). Though clearly the weakest team in the Liga MX playoffs, the Tuneros have climbed up out of the “relegation zone” and that should be considered a victory for the front office.

13. Mazatlán FC (–5)

The Cañoneros were deprived of their first-ever playoff appearance on goal differential. Rookie coach Beñat San José need look no further than the team’s 2-2 draw against visiting Atlético de San Luis back on Aug. 27. The Tuneros scored the equalizer in minute 90+6 when the Mazatlán defense fell asleep on a corner kick. Those 2 lost points were the difference. Then again, you could also point to the 1-0 home loss to the Chivas in the season finale in which “The Purple Gang” conceded the winner in minute 87.