América faces crosstown rivals Cruz Azul as it chases back-to-back titles

For the fifth time in Liga MX history, we've got a Junior Classic in the final
Top-seeded América and second-seeded Cruz Azul face off in the first leg of the Liga MX finals tonight in Estadio Azul.
Top-seeded América and second-seeded Cruz Azul face off in the first leg of the Liga MX finals tonight in Estadio Azul. / Hector Vivas/GettyImages

They say familiarity breeds contempt, so this week’s Liga MX finals series should be quite contemptuous.

For the fifth time in Liga MX history, Mexico City rivals América and Cruz Azul will be battling for league supremacy and no other finals match-up has occurred as often.

If history is any guide, defending champions América would be the bettors’ choice as the Aguilas have won three of the previous four finals encounters between the two franchises.

This wouldn’t be a bad gamble as “Los Azulcremas” enter the series as the No. 1 seed and they have won four straight against Cruz Azul, including a 1-0 victory on Matchday 8 this season.

América holds upper hand in Liga MX playoff meetings

In addition to its 3-1 advantage in Liga MX finals, the Aguilas have manhandled the “La Máquina Azul” in the playoffs, winning 12 of the 16 previous postseason meetings. 

América has beaten the Cementeros in five straight playoff series, including two memorable Liga MX finals – the Apertura 2018 and the Clausura 2013.

Six years ago, Cruz Azul entered the final as the No. 1 seed and shut out the league-leading América offense in the first leg, but failed to score themselves. Cementeros Nation then watched Edson Álvarez score two second-half goals in the return match to give América its 12th Liga MX title.

The Clausura 2013 final was even more heartbreaking. Cruz Azul led 2-0 against 10-man América with the clock winding down when Aguilas defender Aquivaldo Mosquera and goalie Moisés Muñoz (yes, the goalie) scored to force overtime. Nobody scored and the Aguilas emerged victorious in a penalty kick shoot-out.

You have to go back 25 years to find the last time “La Máquina” eliminated América in the playoffs. The Cementeros edged the Aguilas 2-1 in the semifinals before going on to win their 8th Liga MX championship.

Should we expect a low-scoring affair?

The Clausura 2024 final pits the top two defenses in Liga MX. 

América, the No. 1 seed after posting a 10-5-2 record, conceded just 12 goals, while second-seeded Cruz Azul allowed 14 goals while compiling a 10-3-4 record.

The Aguilas reached the final by slipping past the 6th-seeded Chivas in the semifinals and getting past nemesis Pachuca, the No. 8 seed, in the quarters. América has given up 2 goals in the Liguilla.

Cruz Azul survived a tough challenge from No. 4 Monterrey in the semifinals after cruising past 7th-seeded UNAM in the quarterfinals. The Cementeros have allowed 4 goals in the playoffs thus far.

Other Finals odds and ends

Fernando Hernández will be the referee for Thursday's first leg at Estadio Azteca.

América is trying to become just the fourth Liga MX club to win back-to-back titles since the league adopted the short-season format in 1996. Previously, UNAM (Clausura 2004 - Apertura 20024), León (Apertura 2013 - Clausura 2014) and Atlas (Apertura 2021 - Clausura 2022) won two straight titles.


The Aguilas have earned the No. 1 playoff seed more than any other Liga MX club, this season being the 10th time they have done so. However, América has only won the title twice as the No. 1 seed, including last season. The other instance came back in the Apertura 2014.