America, Pachuca fight for postseason, Chiapas facing drop and more ahead of Liga MX's final weekend

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While two teams that recently contested finals are looking to make the Liguilla, Jaguares need a result. Goal previews the weekend in Mexico...

This is it. The last time until the fall we'll look ahead at a weekend of Liga MX.

Paco Jemez staying at Cruz Azul

What's up for grabs? There are two Liguilla spots still not spoken for, and two teams will be fighting to stay in the first division.

We're going to take a look at both of those races and a little more as we go through the Talking Points ahead of Round 17 of the Clausura:


It's a big weekend for ... Chiapas


Moises Munoz Chiapas Jaguares

Weekends don't get much bigger than this. Between this and the previous five tournaments, Jaguares find themselves as the team with the worst performance over that period of time. But not all hope is lost. They're just one point below Morelia and three points below Veracruz (though Veracruz's vastly superior goal difference makes it extremely improbable the Tiburones Rojos will go down), so a win and a Morelia draw or loss would see Chiapas stay in the top division and Morelia go down.

The bad news is Chiapas must travel to face Atlas at the Estadio Jalisco, where only fellow Guadalajara side Chivas has been able to find victory this season. 

"Saturday we have a big opportunity. It doesn’t depend only on us, but yes we have to go out with everything to win," said Jonathan Fabbro, who is Chiapas' leading scorer. "It’s a complicated situation in which we have to get everything from every player – and a little extra – to be able to win."

Atlas has something to play for as well with the desire to keep the home-field advantage rolling. A victory could lock up third place and confirm that the quarterfinal's second leg would be played at home – and don't forget that after away goals the second tiebreaker in the Liga MX playoffs is that the team with the better regular season finish advances.

All that adds up to quite a tall task for Jaguares, who must rediscover the flowing attacking play that saw them find two victories in February.


Don't miss ... America vs. Pachuca


Oribe Peralta Ricardo Marin Club America

This is as close to a play-in game as it gets. If America gets a point out of the contest, its place in the top eight is secure. It's not quite as straightforward for Pachuca, but if Tuzos don't win they can't make it in.

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It's a fascinating game, not least because of the strength of America's defense and Pachuca's attack, which after leading the league in goals in the Apertura fell off a cliff and has scored fewer goals than any other team this tournament. Some of that has been because of injury to star winger Hirving Lozano and even more can be attributed to Rodolfo Pizarro's sale to Chivas leaving the team without a natural playmaker.

But Tuzos have to find a solution Saturday in the Estadio Azteca against an America team that previously had given up no goals at home but conceded twice to Atlas in a 2-1 draw last time out. That defeat, and the nature of the match with such direct implications on continuing the season or not, has Las Aguilas feeling the pressure as well.

"We know America is the biggest team in Mexico and not getting in [to the Liguilla] wouldn't be good at all," America goalkeeper Agustin Marchesin said at a news conference Thursday. "We're obligated to get in and it'd be really good for the group because it's been hard hit by a lot of injuries and absences.

"We know that we have to concentrate on the game and not let things on the outside affect us."

The match, along with four other contests with big implications, kicks off at 10 p.m. ET.


Keep an eye on ... the golden boot race


Aviles Hurtado Milton Caraglio Club Tijuana

It looked like the top scorer race was going to be a runaway, with Pumas striker Nicolas Castillo jumping out to an early lead after netting doubles in three matches before the midway point of the season.

But the Chilean hasn't scored since March 19 and reportedly fell out with manager Paco Palencia and other figures at the club. The scoring drought has allowed four other players to tie him at eight goals heading into the final round of the season. Tijuana's Aviles Hurtado, America's Oribe Peralta, Morelia's Raul Ruidiaz and Atlas' Matias Alustiza all have eight goals.

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In a strange twist, Ruidiaz has scored more goals from the spot, three, than any other member of the quintet just a year after bagging 11 goals without once converting a penalty. Those 11 goals in the Apertura tied him atop the scoring chart last season with Tijuana forward Dayro Moreno, who moved back to his native Colombia to join Atletico Nacional in the winter.

The top scorer generally is in line for a big-time move, whether it's to Europe, a South American powerhouse or a top Liga MX team. 

That might not be the case with known quantities like Peralta or Alustiza, and America already tried and failed to bring in Hurtado once. Still, it will be interesting to watch these goalscorers push for one or two more with their teams looking for different objectives – Tijuana to become the first team to finish first in back-to-back short tournaments, America to get into the Liguilla (and Peralta to become the first Mexican to lead the league in scoring since the 2011 Clausura), Morelia to stay in the first division and Atlas to stay in the top half and keep home-field advantage for the quarterfinals.

We definitely have a high quantity of good goalscorers this season, but no individual has been able to consistently find the back of the net compared with previous tournaments. Even if one of the players with eight goals scores twice this weekend, 10 goals will be the lowest tally for a top goalscorer since the 2015 Clausura. And if nine goals is enough to take the trophy home, it will be the smallest quantity of goals needed to win the Golden Boot in the short tournament era – making it likely it's the lowest in history.


Quote of the Week


Raul Ruidiaz Monarcas Morelia Liga MX 08282016

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"Today I belong to Monarcas, I've got a contract here until 2020 and I'm only focused on one thing, which is achieving the goal. I haven't thought about the rest of things." - Raul Ruidiaz, Monarcas forward

With rumors this week that the Monarcas forward and Golden Boot candidate is headed north to Santos Laguna or to Club America in the capital, the player insisted that he's looking only to help his current team stay in the top division.

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