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Liga MX

Rayados' obligation, Chivas' prayers and more Liga MX playoff scenarios ahead of last weekend before Liguilla

01:15 EAT 23/11/2019
Monterrey
Monterrey manager Antonio Mohamed knows there's no excuse for his club to miss the playoffs, especially with momentum needed for the Club World Cup

The potential for chaos is low. The probability of chaos is high.

As we enter the final weekend of the Liga MX regular season, six clubs already have secured their places in the postseason. That means only two spots are left, with Morelia and Monterrey holding their fates in their own hands.

If Morelia gets at least a point on the road in Queretaro and Monterrey tops Atlas at home, that's it. The bar is closed. But if those results don't happen, there's still a chance a team can sneak in - like a friend of the bartender getting in after last call for a sneaky nightcap.

Monterrey really shouldn't be in this position. Rayados are off to the Club World Cup before the new year after winning the Concacaf Champions League in the spring. 

They couldn't get into gear earlier this tournament, but have seen an uptick in form after Antonio Mohamed returned to lead the club for a second spell after Diego Alonso was given his marching orders. Monterrey comes in on a four-match unbeaten run - but it's likely that only a win will do to lock up a spot in the top eight.

For Mohamed, that's the bare minimum the proud club should be able to do.

"The investment, infrastructure and players Rayados has doesn't allow you not to get into the Liguilla," Mohamed said at a news conference Friday. "For an institution like Monterrey not to achieve a first objective is a sporting failure, totally. Not getting into the final eight with what the club has here is failure. There's no doubt about that. Everyone working in the group has that clear, it's that obvious. Although it sounds harsh, that's how it is."

He's absolutely right, and it may be more true this season than in others. Rayados need to continue to hit their stride before they head off to Qatar. If not, they're looking at another disappointing showing for the confederation's representative on the biggest stage for club football. They are facing an Atlas team that has lost its last three, but one that will be eager (and one that mathematically has a chance to get into the postseason, though it's difficult to see happening realistically).

Morelia is in an even better spot, needing only a point and having picked up points in each of the last five rounds of the tournament.

If one or both of those teams slip up, who is there to take advantage? Tijuana severely dented its chances of making the postseason for a second consecutive tournament when it lost 4-0 to Monterrey before the international break. Now, not only do Xolos need to beat a Leon team looking to improve its seeding but also one that has a legitimate shot at winning the title. Tijuana needs a win and a Monterrey loss because its goal difference is too poor to overtake Morelia.

If not Tijuana, the winner of Pumas' visit to Pachuca would benefit if there is one. A draw would be enough for Pumas if both Monterrey falls to Atlas and Tijuana doesn't come through, but the chances obviously improve greatly with all three points. Pachuca, a point behind Pumas, only has a chance with a win.

Even Chivas still have an outside shot of making the playoffs, but the Chivahermanos are going to have to have the prayer candles going all weekend. Chivas need to smash Veracruz - something that might be easier than expected with many Tiburones Rojos players not even making the trip after separating with the team during ongoing disputes about missed wages and other improprieties. Then they need the other scenarios to fall right - Rayados and Xolos choking and a result between Pachuca and Pumas that allows them to jump both not only on points but also on goal difference.

The onus is on Monarcas and Rayados to lock up their spots, but if they don't there's a hungry pack behind them and a long offseason of stewing over what went wrong on the final weekend.