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Liga MX Update: Cruz Azul continues to hold firm

Rogelio Funes Mori 2018 Liga MX Apertura semifinals soccer Mexico

We are down to the last four teams in the 2018 Liga MX Apertura. Cruz Azul and Club América remain at the very top of the oddsmakers’ list of favorites to win the title. Behind them, however, it is becoming increasingly clear that Monterrey and Pumas UNAM will not be easy opponents to face in the semifinals.

Entering their matchup vs Monterrey, Cruz Azul has to be most people’s No. 1 choice to win the Liga MX title. They’ve been entrenched as one of the favorites to win it all since they snatched first place from Monterrey and Club América during the regular season and arrive to this match after going unbeaten in their last eight matches across all competitions.

As expected, La Máquina were among the more tactical sides in the quarterfinals. Though they didn’t exactly blow Querétaro out of the park, there was never any point in that series where you felt Cruz Azul was in danger of missing out of the semifinals. Pedro Caixinha’s team was never about overwhelming teams on the attack. They’ve always been the kind of team to wait on their opponent to make a mistake and strike at the right time. They showed that against the Gallos Blancos.

Obviously, Querétaro was on paper the weakest opponent in the 2018 Liga MX Apertura Liguilla. But Cruz Azul looks like they are for real and have looked like they are for real for some time now. They aren’t showing any signs of slowing down and it is shaping up to be one of the more memorable Cruz Azul seasons in years.

Here comes Monterrey

Monterrey dominated the defending champions Santos Laguna on their way to booking their place in the semifinals. Diego Alonso’s men have now earned four wins in their last five matches and seem to be peaking at just the right time.

With a matchup vs the favorites Cruz Azul in the semifinals, things aren’t looking as bleak as you might expect for the regiomontanos.  Sure, Monterrey lost to Cruz Azul a few weeks back in the 2018 Apertura Copa MX final, but all though their squad, the Rayados were missing a number of key players for that game. When fully healthy, Monterrey can beat just about any team in Liga MX, including leaders Cruz Azul.

In particular, the return of Rogelio Funes Mori is a huge boost for Diego Alonso’s team. Funes Mori was decisive in the quarterfinals, scoring arguably one of the goals of the season by executing a picture-perfect bicycle kick in the first leg against Santos Laguna. Funes Mori has now scored in three straight games and will remain the focus of Monterrey’s attack against Cruz Azul’s top-ranked defense.

Do Pumas UNAM deserve more respect?

While Club América’s streak of 13 straight Liga MX games without a defeat is by all means impressive, it’s also abundantly clear Las Águilas aren’t playing their best football. In the quarterfinals, América just barely edged a 10-man Toluca side that came within just one goal of knocking them out at the Estadio Azteca. Part of it all could be overconfidence, but if that’s the case, they are in for their toughest matchup yet in Pumas UNAM.

Indeed, the Universitarios turned heads this past weekend, eliminating Tigres UANL by an aggregate scoreline of 4-3. Pumas has held steady all season behind Cruz Azul, Club América and Monterrey, but there is a genuine feeling out there that the sportsbooks aren’t giving David Patiño’s men the credit they deserve. The Universitarios now find themselves just two games away from another Liga MX final, and you best bet they are relishing the opportunity to prove their doubters wrong once again.

ODDS TO WIN 2018-19 LIGA MX

Odds as of December 4 at Bovada

  • Cruz Azul +125
  • Club América +200
  • Monterrey +350
  • Pumas UNAM +700

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