Liga MX down to Final Four, who can go all the way?

UNAM and Atlas are improbable semifinalists, but one will be playing for the trophy come next week. (Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images)
UNAM and Atlas are improbable semifinalists, but one will be playing for the trophy come next week. (Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images) /
Liga MX semifinalists
The Tigres and Leon last saw each other in a Liga MX playoff series back in the Clausura 2019 Finals won by the Tigres. (Photo by Azael Rodriguez/Getty Images) /

Which Liga MX semifinalist has the best chance of winning it all?

Atlas, Leon, Tigres and Pumas are now the Final Four in the hunt for the Liga MX Apertura 2021 title. Now it’s time to take a look into each team to decide who has the best chance to actually be crowned champion.


First of all I have to tell you all, I have a soft spot for UNAM as they were my favorite team while growing up, so I really want to see them winning it all. Now then, after that, I have to say that right now the Pumas are more than inspired facing this challenge. They’ve gone 6-3-1 in their last 10 games including an amazing comeback win over Cruz Azul, and the even more impressive comeback against their most hated rival, America.

The Pumas want to keep surprising all of us. In the previous 49 short tournaments only two teams reached the semifinals after entering the playoffs as a wildcard: Toluca in the 2003 Apertura and Cruz Azul in the 2004 Clausura. Now the Pumas wants to do something neither of those teams managed to do – reach the finals.

The Pumas faced Atlas, their semifinal rival, only once before in the playoffs and that came during the Apertura 2004 season. On that occasion, UNAM won in a high-scoring series, advancing on a 6-4 aggregate. Ironically, the Pumas were the lower seeded then too. It’s important to remember that the Pumas have had success in the semifinals, boasting a 6-4 record in the past 20 years.

We can’t write off this team. Let’s not forget that on Oct. 3, UNAM was in 17the place, just one point above the last-place Xolos. Nearly two months later, they are four games away from lifting their eighth Liga MX trophy.

The road to the title might be harder than others – top-seeded America, followed by No. 2 Atlas, and should they advance, they’d face either the No. 3 or No. 4 seed.


Atlas has to go through UNAM to reach the finals. But first, they will have to defeat their own ghosts that have restrained them over the last 70 years. They eliminated Monterrey in the quarterfinals, thus returning to semifinals for the first time in 17 years and once again facing the Pumas. That last semifinals appearance didn’t go so well.

The Zorros haven’t been so bad the last couple of tournaments. Last season, they reached the quarterfinals as a No. 7 seed. This season they earned the No. 2 seed thanks to an 8-5-4 record and a league-low 10 goals allowed. With one negative streak broken, Atlas would love to end another – they haven’t been to a Liga MX Final in 22 years. They lost to Toluca in a memorable Invierno 1999 Finals, only the fourth time they reached the final series  (1948–49, 1965–66 and their championship year in 1950-51).

Of all four teams, it’s fair to say Atlas has been the least successful. But this season they have surprised us all by capturing the No. 2 seed and by eliminating Monterrey, one of the favorites to win it all. Let’s wait to see if Atlas can keep surprising us and breaking curses the next couple of games.


To be honest, Leon is the most overlooked semifinalist. Not only because it has the smallest fandom, but also because the other three have very interesting storylines leaving Leon as just “meh.” However, we can’t deny they’re a really dangerous team that have shown they can win it all.

Two seasons ago they lifted their eighth trophy, as the No. 1 seed, and eliminated Puebla in the quarterfinals (they just knockout Puebla again with the exact same score). So it’s fair to say they are experienced. It’s a different season and they arrive as the No. 3 seed and will have to face the Tigres.

Leon will be desperate for revenge against the Tigres who have eliminated the Esmeraldas from the playoffs three times in a row: the Clausura 2019 Final, the Apertura 2017 quarterfinals, and the Apertura 2016 semifinals. The northerners won that previous semifinals clash by a 3-1 aggregate scoreline.

One thing going Leon’s way is that once they reach the championship game they almost always win. They have won three out of the four finals they’ve played in over the past 20 years, the only loss coming against the Tigres. So, can the fourth time be the charm?


That brings us to a team that has been at the top of the Liga MX for the last 11 years. The northerners have won five of their seven titles since 2011. They also boast the most finals appearances over the past 10 years.

However, they’ve run out of luck the last couple of years, failing to reach the semifinals the past three seasons. On the bright side, they are facing Leon and have managed to beat them in the Liguilla three times in a row.

They arrive to these games after a brilliant comeback against Santos. The final score ended up as a tie but the Tigres advanced since they are the higher seed. They have a great combination of team and head coach with Miguel Herrera as both know how to win titles.

It’s also important to talk about their best player in Andre-Pierre Gignac, who is trying to break a couple of individual records. The first one is scoring 100 goals in Tigres home field. He’s also trying to equal or surpass Alberto García Aspe as the No. 3 all-time leading scorer in the playoffs.

Next. León, Tigres survive quarterfinals challenges. dark

I can’t deny that the Tigres are the favorite to take the cup but in order to do so, they have to play their best football, something they haven’t been able to do lately.