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Apertura 2014 Quarterfinals: Where to Watch

liga mxThe qualified teams are known and the schedule is set. The Apertura 2014 Playoffs begins this week with the quarterfinals, which will be played over two legs. This is a total goals, aggregate score series; away goals are tiebreakers.

All times Eastern, home team listed first.

First Legs
Wednesday, November 26
Pachuca (7) vs Tigres UANL (2) – 9:06 PM – Telemundo / mun2 / Online: Deportes Telemundo
Pumas UNAM (8) vs América (1) – 11:00 PM – Univision Deportes / Online: Univision Deportes en Vivo

Thursday, November 27
Monterrey (6) vs Atlas (3) – 8:00 PM – Univision Deportes / Online: Univision Deportes en Vivo
Jaguares de Chiapas (5) vs Toluca (4) – 10:00 PM – Univision Deportes / Online: Univision Deportes en Vivo

Second Legs
Saturday, November 29
América (1) vs Pumas UNAM (8) – 6:00 PM – Univision / Online: Univision Deportes en Vivo
Tigres UANL (2) vs Pachuca (7) – 8:00 PM – Univision Deportes / Online: Univision Deportes en Vivo

Sunday, November 30
Toluca (4) vs Jaguares de Chiapas (5) – 1:00 PM – Univision / Online: Univision Deportes en Vivo
Atlas (3) vs Monterrey (6) – 7:00 PM – Univision Deportes / Online: Univision Deportes en Vivo

Apertura Quarterfinal Preview: Saturday’s Games

The first two semifinalists will be determined on Saturday, when América, Pumas UNAM, Tigres UANL, and Pachuca play the second legs of their quarterfinal series.

América (1) vs Pumas UNAM (8) (aggregate score 0-1) – 6:00 PM – Univision / Online: Univision Deportes en Vivo
América suffered a 0-1 defeat in the first leg of this series, and that leaves them in a vulnerable position. Although a 1-0 win would be enough to see the Águilas through (with the aggregate tied and away goals not a factor, América would advance as the higher seed), should Pumas score in the Azteca, América would need to win by two goals to advance. América has not been invincible at home this season though, particularly lately. They lost 1-2 to Atlas in their last home game, and drew 0-0 with Chivas the game before that.

As for Pumas, they won three of their last five away games and drew another. In the lone regular season meeting between these two, Pumas UNAM picked up a 0-1 win in the Azteca. If they were to repeat that result, they would move on to the semifinals.

Tigres UANL (2) vs Pachuca (7) (aggregate score 1-1) – 8:00 PM – Univision Deportes / Online: Univision Deportes en Vivo 
Tigres and Pachuca exchanged own goals in the opening leg of their series, and now Saturday’s game will be a winner-takes-all affair. Should the two teams draw again, a 0-0 or 1-1 result would send Tigres through (the first due to away goals, the second because UANL is the higher seed) while a 2-2 draw or higher (3-3, 4-4, etc.) would advance Pachuca on away goals.

Tigres are riding a long unbeaten streak, eleven games, and they haven’t lost at home since Jornada 7. They won each of their last three away games and four of their last five, and the Volcán is an undeniably difficult place for visitors to play. Pachuca has been up and down on the road this season, losing their most recent outing but going unbeaten in their previous three. Pachuca needs to score to advance, and they’ll be leaning heavily on leading goalscorer Ariel Nahuelpán in this one.

Jaguares de Chiapas vs Toluca – Quarterfinal First Leg

jaguares toluca5th-seeded Jaguares remained unbeaten at home this season by coming from behind to earn a 1-1 daw with 4th-seeded Toluca in the first leg of their quarterfinal series.

José Cardozo adjusted Toluca’s lineup for this one, putting on Jerónimo Amione as a starter and leaving Lucas Lobos and “Pájaro” Benítez out of the starting XI. Amione was the most dynamic man on the field for the Diablos Rojos and he caused problems for Jaguares in the back.

In one such play, Amione appeared to be fouled inside the box by Édgar Dueñas, but referee Óscar Macías Romo declined to call a penalty kick. Justice would be served, however, as minutes later Amione would open the scoring. In the 44th minute, a corner kick that was bouncing around in the box reached Amione, who bicycled it into the net to give the visitors the 0-1 lead just before halftime.

A few minutes before that, Matías Vuoso had had a great chance to put Jaguares in front, but he couldn’t finish after beating defender Jordan Silva.

Sergio Bueno made adjustments in the second half, sending on “Rifle” Andrade and “Hobbit” Bermúdez, and Chiapas pushed for a way back into the game. They got a bit of luck in the 61st minute, when Amione had the ball in the net again only for it to be disallowed for a handball.

Then, in the 67th minute, Andrade beat Carlos Orrantia down the left wing and sent in a cross that Emiliano Armenteros hammered home to tie the game at 1-1.

The substitutions had paid off for Jaguares, and after the equalizer they gained more control of the game. Another substitute, Franco Arizala, nearly scored with a header and then also had a penalty shout ten minutes from time.

The 1-1 draw leaves this tie delicately balanced: Sunday’s game will be a winner-takes-all affair, but should the two teams draw again, a 0-0 or 1-1 draw would send Toluca through (the first result due to away goals, the second because the Diablos are the higher seed), while a 2-2 draw or higher would advance Jaguares due to away goals.

Highlights

Lineups

Jaguares: Óscar Jiménez, Édgar Dueñas, Horacio Cervantes, Javier Muñoz Mustafá, Julio Nava, Alan Zamora (Andrés Andrade 54′), Diego de la Torre, Luis Rodríguez, Emiliano Armenteros, Isaác Díaz (Christian Bermúdez 63′), Vicente Matías Vuoso (Franco Arizala 74′).

Toluca: Alfredo Talavera, Jordan Silva, Aarón Galindo, Paulo da Silva, Óscar Rojas (Édgar Benítez 72′), Antonio Ríos, Richard Ortiz, Carlos Orrantia (Miguel Ángel Ponce 69′), Isaác Brizuela, Pablo Velázquez, Jerónimo Amione (Alejandro Navarro 84′). 

Monterrey vs Atlas – Quarterfinal First Leg

monterrey atlas3rd-seeded Atlas picked up a hugely valuable 0-1 away win against 6th-seeded Monterrey on Thursday night, which puts the Rojinegros in the driver’s seat in this quarterfinal series.

Monterrey was playing without their leading goalscorer, Dorlan Pabón, who was serving a one-game suspension. The Rayados’ other strikers failed to step up in Pabón’s absence, with Humberto Suazo becoming the villain when he missed a penalty kick that would have given Monterrey the lead.

In the 20th minute, Facundo Erpen was called for a handball in the box, with referee Luis Enrique Santander not hesitating to point to the penalty spot. After Atlas spent a few minutes arguing with the referee, “Chupete” Suazo stepped up to take the spot kick in the 22nd minute, and he mishit his shot, sending the ball over the crossbar. Monterrey squandered their clearest chance of the night, and Atlas didn’t need long to make them rue the miss.

In the 34th minute, Nery Caballero surprised everyone – including Monterrey keeper Jona Orozco – with a long-distance blast that ended up in the back of the net. After falling behind, Monterrey were obligated to press forward in search of an equalizer at the very least. But despite coming as close as a Lucas Silva shot grazing the post, the 0-1 scoreline lasted into the halftime interval.

Carlos Barra didn’t hesitate to make substitutions in an attempt to get his team back into the game, but although Cándido Ramírez provided more movement for the Rayados it didn’t come to anything. Atlas hung on to their lead and find themselves in a fairly comfortable position in their series.

With the 0-1 win, Atlas has not just the aggregate lead but also an away goal in their favor, meaning Monterrey will have to score at least twice in the second leg to advance. A 0-1 Monterrey win would send Atlas through as the higher seed, while a 1-2 win would favor the Rayados due to away goals.

Highlights

Lineups

Monterrey: Jonathan Orozco, Efraín Juárez (Carlos Gael Acosta 60′), Hiram Mier, John Stefan Medina, Efraín Velarde (Luis Madrigal 78′), César Delgado, Severo Meza, Jesús Zavala, Neri Cardozo (Cándido Ramírez 46′), Lucas Silva, Humberto Suazo.

Atlas: Federico Vilar, Enrique Pérez, Facundo Erpen, Luis Gerardo Venegas, Édgar Castillo, Aldo Leao, Juan Carlos Medina, Rodrigo Millar (Jesús Chávez 85′), Maikon Leite (Edy Brambila 60′), Arturo González, Luis Nery Caballero (Enrique Esqueda 72′). 

Pumas UNAM vs América – Quarterfinal First Leg

pumas americaAfter going winless at home in the Estadio Universitario until the very last game of the regular season, 8th-seeded Pumas UNAM has now racked up two home wins in a row with their 1-0 defeat of 1st-seeded América.

With complete disregard for the fact that Pumas squeaked into the playoffs in the last match of the season, while superlíder América was the first team to lock up a Liguilla berth, UNAM showed more throughout the game and walked away with a deserved win.

Eduardo Herrera, who scored a brace in Pumas’s 4-2 win against Monterrey over the weekend, got back on the scoresheet on Wednesday night with a game-winning goal in the 78th minute, just when the game was starting to look destined to end in a scoreless draw.

The first half was full of attacking impetus from Pumas, who continually threatened through Ismael Sosa and Javier Cortés. Sosa even hit the crossbar after cutting around Paul Aguilar, but the woodwork was as close as they came. Meanwhile, it took América about half an hour to string together any significant attacks. The most dangerous moment came when Osvaldo Martínez’s corner kick created chaos inside the box, with a blocked shot falling to Oribe Peralta, whose follow up was cleared off the line by Martín Romagnoli.

The second 45 was not nearly as free-flowing as the first 45 had been, with a series of fouls breaking up the rhythm of the game. Shortly after the half had started, there was a long stoppage after Peralta collided with Alejandro Palacios, with the goalkeeper needing to be subbed off in the 55th minute.

América once again seemed content to focus on defense rather than attack, perhaps forgetting the value of away goals should tiebreakers be needed in this series, and they paid for playing for the 0-0 draw when Herrera scored late on. After falling behind, the Águilas tried to react, but it was too little, too late for the superlíder.

The 1-0 win gives Pumas a double advantage in the series: first, the aggregate lead; and secondly, the fact that they prevented América from scoring an away goal. Should Pumas score in the Estadio Azteca in the second leg on Saturday, América would need to win by two goals to advance. That is, although 1-0 win would send América through as the higher seed, a 2-1 América win would send Pumas through due to away goals.

Highlights

Lineups
Pumas: Alejandro Palacios (Alfredo Saldívar 55′), Josecarlos Van Rankin, Marco Antonio Palacios, Darío Verón, Luis Fernando Fuentes, Ismael Sosa, Martín Romagnoli (Daniel Ludueña 71′), David Cabrera, Dante López, Javier Cortés, Eduardo Herrera (Roberto Daniel Ramírez 95′).

América: Moisés Muñoz, Paul Aguilar, Paolo Goltz, Pablo Aguilar, Miguel Layún (Osmar Mares 46′), Luis Mendoza, Jesús Molina, José Daniel Guerrero, Osvaldo Martínez (Gonzalo Días 83′), Michael Arroyo (Luis Gabriel Rey 68′), Oribe Peralta.

Pachuca vs Tigres UANL – Quarterfinal First Leg

pachuca tigres7th-seeded Pachuca hosted 2nd-seeded Tigres UANL in the first match of the Apertura 2014 playoffs, and in a game with few goalscoring chances, the final score ended up knotted at 1-1 thanks to a pair of own goals.

The first half was a rather dull affair, without the energy and creativity that one would hope for in a Liguilla match. Pachuca started off brightly, but Tigres didn’t take long to get a foothold in the game and after that the match slowed down. Both teams had sent out midfield-heavy lineups, with only one true striker, and both target men – Ariel Nahuelpán for the Tuzos and Hérculez Gómez for Tigres – found themselves isolated and unable to have an effect on the game.

The match stayed bogged down in midfield for most of the first 45, although each team had one or two chances to break the deadlock. For Pachuca, Erick Gutiérrez shot just wide at the end of a good sequence, while in another play Jürgen Damm had the ball in the box with a clear look at goal, and elected to play a square pass to a teammate instead. For Tigres, their main threat was Joffre Guerrón, who used his pace to wreak havoc in Pachuca’s backline.

After the scoreless first half, “Tuca” Ferretti made two halftime substitutions, bringing on Guido Pizarro and Darío Burbano for Gerardo Lugo and Hérculez Gómez, and his tactical adjustment paid dividends almost immediately. Three minutes into the half, Burbano charged down the right flank towards goal, with Pachuca’s defense backing off the attacker. He sent a dangerous pass to Guerrón, only for a sliding Rodrigo Salinas to knock the ball away just before the shot came in. Unfortunately for the Tuzos defender, his slide tackle sent the ball into the back of his own net, and Tigres were ahead, 0-1, in the 49th minute.

Enrique Meza made some substitutions of his own, but his were like-for-like: Abraham Darío Careño for Ariel Nahuelpán, Diego Buonanotte for Dieter Villalpando. He kept Pachuca in a 4-5-1 formation, and they continued to be short on attacking impetus with a lone striker isolated up top.

It was only in the final ten minutes of the game that Pachuca managed to create some dangerous opportunities, and it wasn’t until stoppage time that they were able to bring one to fruition. In the  minute, Hugo Ayala deflected a cross from Salinas with his knee, sending the ball past Nahuel Guzmán and into his own net to tie the game 1-1.

The 1-1 draw still favors Tigres, but the late goal gave Pachuca a foothold in the series. Saturday’s second leg will be a winner-takes-all affair; should the game end in a 0-0 or 1-1 draw, Tigres would advance, while a draw of 2-2 or higher would send Pachuca through.

Highlights

Lineups
Pachuca: Óscar Pérez, Rodrigo Salinas, Aquivaldo Mosquera, Hugo Rodríguez, Walter Ayoví, Hiving Lozano, Jorge Hernández (Avilés Hurtado 81′), Erick Gutiérrez, Jürgen Damm, Dieter Villalpando (Diego Buonanotte 54′), Ariel Nahuelpán (Abraham Darío Carreño 54′).

Tigres: Nahuel Guzmán, Jesús Dueñas (Iván Estrada 82′), Hugo Ayala, Juninho, Jorge Torres Nilo, Damián Álvarez, José Francisco Torres, Egidio Arévalo, Édgar Gerardo Lugo (Guido Pizarro 46′), Hérculez Gómez (Hernán Darío Burbano 46′), Joffre Guerrón.

Liga MX Referee Assignments: Quarterfinals Leg 1

The referees, assistant referees and fourth officials for the first leg of the Apertura 2014 quarterfinals.

Pachuca vs Tigres UANL
Referee: Miguel Ángel Chacón Viveros
Assistant 1: Marvin César Torrentera Rivera
Assistant 2: Pablo Israel Hernández Luna
Fourth Official: Jorge Antonio Pérez Durán

Pumas UNAM vs América
Referee: Fernando Guerrero Ramírez
Assistant 1: Juan Joel Rangel Maya
Assistant 2: Andrés Hernández Delgado
Fourth Official: Miguel Ángel Ayala Ramírez

Monterrey vs Atlas
Referee: Luis Enrique Santander Aguirre
Assistant 1: Salvador Rodríguez Gorrocino
Assistant 2: Óscar Ismael Martínez García
Fourth Official: Erick Yair Miranda Galindo

Jaguares de Chiapas vs Toluca
Referee: Óscar Macías Romo
Assistant 1: Héctor Manuel Delgadillo Castañeda
Assistant 2: Javier Santacruz Romo
Fourth Official: Roberto García Orozco

Apertura Quarterfinals Preview: Thursday’s Games

A look ahead at Thursday’s quarterfinal first leg matches.

Monterrey (6) vs Atlas (3) – 8:00 PM – Univision Deportes / Online: Univision Deportes en Vivo
Monterrey finished the regular season with 27 points after a 4-2 loss to Pumas UNAM, their third loss in four games. Monterrey is in a serious slump, with only one win in their last seven games, and the Rayados will be missing their leading goalscorer Dorlan Pabón for this one after the striker picked up his fifth yellow card of the season in Monterrey’s rescheduled Jornada 8 game with Chivas de Guadalajara. The Rayados have other capable strikers, though, and they should really be most worried about shoring up their defensive, which has been leaking goals in recent weeks.

As for Atlas, a win against América last weekend brought them to 31 points for the season and ended a two-game winless streak for the Rojinegros. Atlas has won two of their last three road games (although the loss was a hefty one: 4-0 to León) and will look to take advantage of a weakened Monterrey side.

Jaguares de Chiapas (5) vs Toluca (4) – 10:00 PM – Univision Deportes / Online: Univision Deportes en Vivo
Jaguares de Chiapas reached 28 points for the season after a 2-1 win against Querétaro, which extended Jaguares’ unbeaten streak to five games (four wins, one draw). Jaguares have been formidable at home in the Estadio Víctor Manuel Reyna, where they were unbeaten all season (four wins, four draws), and they’ll look to keep that streak alive against Toluca.

The Diablos Rojos finished on 29 points after a 2-1 loss to Tigres last weekend, which ended a two-game unbeaten streak for Toluca. The Diablos will be looking to rebound in the first game of the playoffs, and before this weekend’s loss they were unbeaten on the road in four games (three wins and a draw). These two teams finished the season with nearly identical records, separated by just a single point, and this should be the most balanced of all the quarterfinal matchups.

Apertura Quarterfinals Preview: Wednesday’s Games

A look ahead at Wednesday’s quarterfinal first leg matches.

Pachuca (7) vs Tigres UANL (2) – 9:06 PM – Telemundo / mun2 / Online: Deportes Telemundo
Pachuca finished the regular season with 25 points after a 1-0 win against Veracruz this weekend, which snapped a four-game winless run for the Tuzos. Pachuca is unbeaten in their last three home games, but their last home loss came at the hands of their quarterfinal rival, Tigres UANL. On the other hand, Pachuca’s confidence will be up after beating Veracruz with both Ariel Nahuelpán and Aquivaldo Mosquera suspended, and now their leading scorer and defensive linchpin will both be available for this game.

As for Tigres, they finished the regular season with 31 points after a 2-1 win over Toluca, which kept Tigres unbeaten in ten games (6 wins and 4 draws). Tigres have shown themselves to be extremely hard to beat this season, but on the other hand, they’re winless in their last two away games, and were held scoreless in their most recent one. Away goals do count as a tiebreaker if the aggregate series score is tied, so Tigres will want to get at least one goal in this one.

Pumas UNAM (8) vs América (1) – 11:00 PM – Univision Deportes / Online: Univision Deportes en Vivo
Pumas UNAM finished the season with 24 points, qualifying for the playoffs with an emphatic 4-2 defeat of Monterrey on Sunday. That was Pumas’s first win in the Estadio Universitario all season, and now they’ll be looking to make it two home wins in a row when they play América. It’s a quick turnaround for the universitarios, though, and América will try to take advantage of having an extra day of rest.

The Águilas finished the season with 31 points after a loss to Atlas to end the regular season. That loss kept América winless in four (two draws and two losses) and the Superlíder is not coming into the playoffs in the best of form. They’ve also lost two of their last three away games. Nevertheless, the Águilas were the second-highest scoring team in the Apertura 2014 and they also had one of the better defensive records. If any team is likely to snap out of a slump in the playoffs, it’s América.

Voit Introduces Golden Ball for the Playoffs

The Voit Aspid, the official match ball of Liga MX, has undergone several aesthetic changes over the course of the season, turning light blue in August for the “For Education” Campaign, pink and blue in October for Breast and Prostate Cancer Awareness, and now gold for the playoffs.

 

The ball was presented with the slogan “Gold is not for everyone… it’s only for the best” and it is officially known as the “Aspid Liguilla 2014″. It will be used throughout the playoffs, from the first legs of the quarterfinals (this Wednesday and Thursday) until the last game of the Gran Final (December 14th).