Fourth is Good Enough
First of all, let’s not forget that the Liga MX format includes a regular season and a postseason. The top 12 advance to the playoffs. The top four go directly to the Round of 8, while the other eight collide in four one-match series, with the winner advancing to the next round.
That being said, America had no trouble fulfilling its role as the soccer betting favorite and finished the regular season atop the standings with 38 points. No other team scored more goals than Las Aguilas with 38. Defensively, no other team allowed fewer goals than Monterrey, with 13. Los Rayados finished second with 35 points.
Curiously enough, Pachuca finished fourth with 32 points, 28 goals for and 15 against. Los Tuzos lost three games: Juarez (2-1), America (3-0), and Necaxa (2-0).
Let’s also talk about Toluca, the other team that made it to the Grand Finale. Los Diablos Rojos finished sixth with 27 points, 27 goals for, and 23 against. During the regular season, Toluca lost six games; one of those games was against Pachuca with a 4-1 score.
Last but not least, Atlas, the team that won the title in the previous two tournaments, didn’t even qualify for the postseason after finishing 17th with 13 points. Don’t tell me that Liga MX isn’t competitive.
You know what they say: anything can happen in the postseason. As mentioned before, Pachuca finished fourth and Toluca finished sixth; both teams weren’t among the betting online favorites to win the title.
Los Diablos Rojos crushed Juarez in the one-match series 3-0 to advance to the Round of 8, in which they collided with Santos Laguna in a series that ended up being a goal-fest. Toluca won both games, 4-3 and 2-1. Later, they pulled off the stunner against America, winning the first leg 2-1 and drawing 1-1 in the second.
As for Pachuca, Los Tuzos faced Tigres in the Round of 8 and couldn’t beat them on aggregate (2-2). Nevertheless, finishing fourth in the regular season allowed them to advance since Tigres finished fifth. That’s why the regular season is so important. Later, Pachuca had no trouble defeating Monterrey 6-2 on aggregate.
The Grand Finale was also a goal-fest, in which Pachuca was the protagonist. Los Tuzos won the first leg 5-1 and also won the second 3-1. The Apertura 2022 title was the seventh for Pachuca and the first since 2016.
There’s no relegation in Liga MX. Instead, the last three teams must pay a fine. In this case, Juarez, Tijuana, and Queretaro were the unlucky ones.
Golden Boot Winner
Nicolas Ibanez was one of the main reasons for Pachuca to win the title. The Argentinian finished as the tournament’s top scorer with 11 goals, including two in the Grand Finale. Kevin Alvarez was his best ally as he led Los Tuzos in assists with five.
Ibanez was followed by Henry Martin from America with 10 goals and Martin Barragan from Puebla with eight.