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Apertura 2023 playoffs: qualified and eliminated teams after matchday 16

Ahead of this weekend’s climax to the Liga MX Apertura 2023 regular season, there are still a number of issues to be resolved before the playoff picture is complete.

Ahead of this weekend’s climax to the Liga MX Apertura 2023 regular season, there are still a number of issues to be resolved before the playoff picture is complete.
José MéndezEFE

With one matchday left to play in the Apertura 2023 regular season, the Liga MX playoff picture remains only half clear. Four out of the six automatic qualifiers for the quarter-finals have been confirmed, but the line-up for the four-team play-in round is still completely up in the air.

How does Apertura 2023 playoff qualification work?

In an amended format brought in for the Apertura 2023 tournament, the top six teams in the regular-season standings qualify automatically for the playoffs proper; previously, only four teams were guaranteed a quarter-final place. Meanwhile, the number of clubs that qualify for the playoffs’ preliminary stage has been halved from eight: as of the present campaign, only the sides finishing seventh to 10th will battle it out for the final quarter-final spots.

Who has definitely qualified for the quarter-finals?

Club América have been assured of their ticket to the quarters since their 3-0 win over Monterrey on matchday 14 at the end of October. Las Águilas are also certain to finish top of the regular-season standings - and have the chance to rack up an unprecedented points total. With 39 points to their name at the moment, victory on matchday 17 will see América surpass the current points record for a 17-game regular season, which stands at 41.

Three teams joined América in the quarter-finals at the weekend. Chivas Guadalajara, Monterrey and defending champions Tigres all made sure of a top-six regular-season finish with a game to spare.

Tigres are bidding for back-to-back Liga MX titles.
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Tigres are bidding for back-to-back Liga MX titles.JULIO CESAR AGUILARAFP

Who else is in the quarter-finals as things stand?

Pumas’ 3-0 win over Atlas on Sunday took Antonio Mohamed’s men up to fifth, leaving Los Universitarios well placed to reach the playoff quarter-finals for the first time since the Apertura 2021 tournament. At the very least, Pumas are now certain of a top-10 finish.

In the final last-eight qualification berth, Atlético San Luis are currently ahead of Tijuana on goal difference. Tijuana are followed by Toluca, Club León and Santos Laguna, who are each still within reach of the top six, too - particularly Santos, who have a game in hand.

Who is in the play-in as things stand?

Right now, the four teams in the play-in positions are Tijuana, Toluca, León and Santos, with Mazatlán, Pachuca and Puebla all sitting just a single point off 10th place. Juárez, Querétaro and Cruz Azul are further back, but not yet mathematically out of contention.

Like Pumas, San Luis and Tijuana can no longer drop below 10th - unless a decision by Mexico’s Administrative Court for Sport goes against Los Xolos this week (see below).

Apertura 2023 playoff picture: as it stands

In quarter-finals:

  • Club América (Q)
  • Tigres (Q)
  • Monterrey (Q)
  • Chivas (Q)
  • Pumas (P)
  • Atlético San Luis (P)

In play-in round:

  • Tijuana (P)
  • Toluca
  • León
  • Santos Laguna

Q = certain of quarter-final place

P = certain of play-in place at least

Which teams have been eliminated?

Only two sides are definitely unable to qualify for the postseason. Bottom team Necaxa were eliminated after losing to Monterrey on matchday 15, while Atlas - who were back-to-back Mexican champions as recently as the Clausura 2022 - bowed out after defeat to Pumas at the weekend.

Apertura 2023 standings ahead of matchday 17:

Puebla, Tijuana points could change

For now, both Tijuana and Puebla’s points totals have an asterisk against them, pending the Administrative Court for Sport’s decision on the outcome of the teams’ matchday-seven game. Despite Puebla beating Tijuana 3-0 at the start of September, the latter were awarded the points after La Franja were deemed to have included an ineligible player among their substitutes. Puebla have appealed the punishment, however, with a final ruling due in the coming days.

Were Puebla’s win to be reinstated, the redistribution of points would move them into the play-in places and back into the frame for a top-six finish. Tijuana would no longer be guaranteed a spot in the top 10 - and nor would San Luis, whose four-point lead over 11th would be cut to three.

When does the Apertura 2023 regular season finish?

Monterrey host Santos Laguna in a rescheduled matchday-10 clash on Wednesday 8 November. Following that midweek game, the Apertura 2023 regular season comes to a close when matchday 17 is played on Friday 10, Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 November.

Apertura 2023 matchday 17 fixture schedule in full:

  • Friday 8pm ET: Atlas vs Necaxa
  • Friday 8pm ET: Mazatlán vs Toluca
  • Friday 10pm ET: Tijuana vs Pachuca
  • Saturday 6pm ET: Atlético San Luis vs Santos Laguna
  • Saturday 6pm ET: Querétaro vs Monterrey
  • Saturday 8pm ET: Pumas vs Chivas
  • Saturday 10:10pm ET: Tigres vs América
  • Sunday 7pm ET: Cruz Azul vs Puebla
  • Sunday 9pm ET: León vs Juárez