Mexico's Goofy Group System Always Leaves Deserving Teams Out of the Liguilla

With only 3 weeks left in the Mexican Apertura regular season, we can be certain of one thing: we still have no idea who is going to make the liguilla. Some call it parity, others call it mediocrity. I call it chaos.

Only one team is assured of a post season birth: Toluca. Mexican futbol’s cooky, crazy group system, though, offers no guarantees to the other teams that are in the top 8 slots of the table. That is because 5 of those slots are occupied by teams from Group 2. In Mexico, only the top 2 in a group are guaranteed a birth in the playoff, along with the 2 best 3rd place teams (out of 3 groups of 6). So that means that if the season ended today, the 9th place and 11th place teams would make the playoffs, but the 7th and 8th place teams would not.

Thus the danger of breaking the league down into groups. I have no issue with having groups, but it has to mean more than just having groups. For Instance, what if group games were worth 4 points for a win? What would the tables look like then?

Group 1
Toluca 29 (33 with 4 group wins)
San Luis 17 (18 with 1 group win)
Chivas 15 (16)
Atlas 15
Queretaro12 (13)
Indios 4

Group 2
Morelia 28 (30)
América 26
Monterrey 26 (28)
Puebla 23 (25)
Pachuca 23 (25)
Jaguares 16

Group3
Santos 26 (29)
Cruz Azul 24 (26)
Atlante 19 (21)
Tigres 18 (20)
Estudiantes15 (16)
Pumas 12

The team that makes a move would be Monterrey, who are currently in third in group 2, to second. Not to mention the fact that they still have both América and Morelia on the schedule. To be far, those games will be massive regardless, but it would be a little more fun if those games had the added value of a 4th point. It would really make for a compelling climax to the season, especially of the schedulers schedule group games for the last three fixtures of the tourney.

But alas, that is only a fantasy. Back in the real world, The only group that is in dispute is the Group 2. Before the Apretura, I jokingly that Morelia was my choice to win the whole thing because given the volatility of the league, anything could happen. Now that they sit in 1st place of the very competitive group 2, I look like a genius, at least until they crash out in the quarter finals. Coach Tomás Boy, 1986 Tri captain and overall terrific player, has done a great job blending Morelia’s youth with experienced players, both foreign and domestic. It also helps that Moises (Doritos) Muñoz is having an exemplary year in goal. Even with goal scorer Miguel Sabah out injured, Morelia keeps winning. Players to watch: Midfielder Elias Hernandez has played well enough to at appear on Javier Aguirre’s radar. Luis Gabriel Rey and Hugo Droguett are two of the better foreigners in the league and have not disappointed.

Club América
has done better than expected under coach Jesús Ramirez, who some pundits were openly wondering if he could handle the pressures of coaching such a team (as if América is one the Titans of the sport... puhlease). Ram