Pachuca will march into Estadio Nemesio Díez tonight desperate to improve on last season’s runner-up finish. Host Toluca, fresh off its stunning upset of No. 1 seed América in the semifinals, will try to steal an advantage before the Liga MX Finals shift to Estadio Hidalgo.
The Tuzos are mild favorites – they finished the Apertura 2022 as the No. 2 seed, while the Diablos Rojos came in sixth – but Ignacio Ambriz has his “Choriceros” believing they can proclaim themselves kings of Liga MX for an 11th time.
Apropos of nothing, in the previous 77 Liga MX playoff tournaments, the No. 6 seed has only won one title (América in the 1988-89 season) while the No. 2 seed has hoisted the trophy 22 times, the same total as No. 1 seeds.
The last No. 2 seed to be crowned Liga MX champs was Atlas, just a year ago.
First-time meeting in a Liga MX Final
The Apertura 2022 championship series will be the sixth playoff meeting between these two franchises, and the first since the Clausura 2010 semifinals. In that match-up 12 years ago, Toluca was triumphant, eliminating the Tuzos 3-2 on aggregate before defeating Santos Laguna in the Liga MX Finals. That season was the last time the Diablos Rojos won the title.
Toluca also knocked Pachuca out at the semifinals stage in the Apertura 2006 and Apertura 2005 seasons, winning the Liga MX title after the AP2005 campaign.
You have to go back to the Invierno 2001 season to find the last time Pachuca got the better of the Diablos Rojos in the playoffs. The third-seeded Tuzos slipped past the second-seeded “Choriceros” and advanced to the Finals where they claimed their second-ever Liga MX title.
The Tuzos won their first-ever title after the Invierno 1999 season and they defeated Toluca in the quarterfinals that year.
Overall, the Diablos Rojos have a 3-2 mark in the playoffs against Pachuca though they are all even in goals scored (13 apiece).
As mentioned above, Toluca is aiming for its 11th Liga MX crown, while the Tuzos are hoping for their 7th league title.
Ambriz carrying banner for Mexican coaches
Toluca’s head man Ignacio Ambriz is trying to become the first Mexican manager to win the league championship since he himself did it while in charge of León back in the Guardianes 2020, exactly four seasons ago.
Uruguayan Guillermo Almada is still trying to earn his first Liga MX title now in his third try. Almada and Santos Laguna came up short against Cruz Azul in the Guardianes 2021 Final and, as noted above, the Tuzos lost to Atlas in last season’s championship series.
As for players, three members of Pachuca’s Clausura 2016 championship roster are still with the team – midfielder Víctor Guzmán (he scored the title-winning goal) and defenders Óscar Murillo and Miguel Herrera.
Two other Tuzos – Avilés Hurtado (Monterrey, Apertura 2019) and Eduardo “Chofis” López (Guadalajara, Clausura 2017) – also have championship rings.
Four Toluca players have lifted a Liga MX trophy. Jean Meneses, Fernando Navarro and Andrés Mosquera were with coach Ambriz on León’s Guardianes 2020 team that won the title, while defender Jorge Torres Nilo won five championships with Tigres – Apertura 2011, Apertura 2015, Apertura 2016, Apertura 2017 and Clausura 2019.