Clausura 2023 finalists to emerge from Saturday’s ‘Clásico Regio,’ Sunday’s ‘Super Clásico’

Sebastián Córdova (right) has scored in all three Tigres playoff games. He'll need some help from his mates if his team is to get past the No. 1 seeded Rayados of Monterrey. (Photo by Alfredo Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images)
Sebastián Córdova (right) has scored in all three Tigres playoff games. He'll need some help from his mates if his team is to get past the No. 1 seeded Rayados of Monterrey. (Photo by Alfredo Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images) /
Liga MX semifinals CL23
Guadalajara’s Alan Mozo (left, harassing América’s Jonathan Rodríguez) might have to contribute from his right back position if the Chivas are to advance to the Liga MX Final. (Photo by Carlos Zepeda/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

By midnight tonight (Mexico City time), one of the Clausura 2023 finalists will have been revealed, in this the 79th Liguilla in Liga MX history.

And soccer fans anywhere couldn’t ask for more than the semifinal series in progress – a “Clásico Regiomontano” and a “Súper Clásico.” 

Not only are these two derbies among the very best in North America, all four teams are star-laden (though a few players have shown some drastic inconsistency in form).

Whatever happens tonight in Estadio BBVA Bancomer and tomorrow at the Estadio Azteca, we’re guaranteed a very attractive final.

Making a case for Best Liga MX Rivalry

The past decade or more, Monterrey and Tigres have hovered inside the top four on the list of highest Liga MX payrolls. Naturally, that has made for derbies featuring high-quality fútbol.

Adding to that, both Monterrey fan bases are among the most loyal in Liga MX such that Tigres and Rayados are consistently among the league leaders in attendance figures.

These crosstown rivals are squaring off in a playoff series for the sixth time in the past 10 years, though the first since the Clausura 2019 (with Tigres advancing to the final).

This time around, the No. 1 seeded Rayados have the advantage heading into tonight’s second leg at home. Monterrey sat atop the Liga MX table almost the entire season, finishing 13-1-3 and clinching the top seed with three weeks to spare.

As the No. 7 seed, Tigres must defeat Monterrey at the “El Gigante de Acero” after failing to hold home court last Wednesday (that game ended in a 1-1 draw).

Tigres have struggled to score all season – their 20 goals is lowest among the semifinalists by quite a bit (Chivas next lowest with 28) – though Sebastián Córdova has netted in all four playoff games to lead all Liga MX playoff goleadores.

Add to that, the Rayados boast the stingiest defense in Liga MX. Víctor Manuel Vucetich’s men conceded but 14 goals in 17 regular-season matches. And in the Liguilla, Monterrey has allowed just one goal in three contests (Córdova’s).

All things considered, Monterrey goes into tonight’s 130th “Clásico Regiomontano” as the favorite, but the club’s strike force has been too profligate of late.

Another factor will apparently be the rain as thunderclouds are already crashing up against the nearby Sierra Madre Oriental, nearly six hours before kickoff.

Should make for a fascinating game.

Time to put up or shut up for Chivas

Sunday’s Liga MX semifinal will be the 187th running of the Liga MX “Super Clásico” with the Chivas desperate to make up a 1-0 deficit from Thursday’s first leg.

Guadalajara has been ousted eight of the previous 11 times they’ve faced América in a playoff series.

Of course, “El Rebaño Sagrado” came out on top the last time we witnessed a postseason “Super Clásico.” Back in the Apertura 2020, the 7th-seeded Chivas stunned the No. 3 Aguilas (3-1 on aggregate).

To squeeze past their bitter rivals, Guadalajara must win by two goals on the road (a not outlandish request as the Chivas were the third-best road team in Liga MX this season at 5-3-1). Then again, their one loss away from home came against these same Aguilas, a 4-2 spanking at the Azteca back on Matchday 12.

For its part, América advances with a win or a draw and can even lose by one goal which would be enough for the Aguilas to advance as they are the No. 2 seed, nudging Guadalajara to the No. 3 seed on goal differential. Both clubs finished with 34 points but “Los Azulcremas” had a plus-15 differential compared to the Chivas’ plus-10.

Veljko Paunovic’s boys must score at least twice against América not-always convincing defense but the Goats have scored just once in three playoff games (defender Gilberto Sepúlveda’s header off a corner kick against Atlas).

To do that, the “Tapatíos” must figure out how to beat Luis Malagón. The América goalkeeper was huge between the pipes in Thursday’s first leg, coming up with four acrobatic saves in the first half alone.

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We’ll take a closer look at Sunday’s “Super Clásico” in the run-up to kickoff. Let’s hope “Don Goyo” doesn’t misbehave between now and then.