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How Liga MX 2023 Apertura Liguilla playoff games are resolved in the case of ties

Eight sides have advanced to the Liguilla stage of the Apertura season with all eyes set on being proclaimed Mexican champion in December.

How Liga MX 2023 Apertura playoff games are resolved in the case of ties
Víctor CruzEFE

Finish the league in eighth and still win the title? Sounds far-fetched, but in the Liga MX short season format this is a possibility with Club León, the lowest ranked side (the Fiera ended the season in eighth) to progress to the post-season Liguilla playoffs still in with a shout to win the title come 17 December.

As of the 1996-97 season, Liga MX is contested over two annual tournaments which see two champions crowned per season. The season opens with the Apertura tournament (opening tournament) and this runs from July to December with the Clausura tournament (closing) and this runs from January through to May. 18 teams are currently involved in the Liga MX top flight with this system in place since the mid 90s.

This season saw a new NBA play-in inspired system to see what teams who finished in 7th-10th place progress to the quarter finals with León and San Luis edging out Mazatlan and Santos Laguna to advance.

Liga MX Liguilla playoffs

The two play-in winners advanced and joined the top six placed sides (Club América, Monterrey, Tigres, Pumas, Chivas and Puebla) in a quarter-final play off. These games (known as the Liguilla) are played in a traditional home/away knock-out procedure that will always see the highest team in the regular season enjoy home advantage in the return leg.

Should games at the quarter and semi-final stages be tied on aggregate, then the higher placed side in the regular season progresses and for the 2023 Apertura, Club America, Rayados, Tigres and Pumas enjoy this benefit as highest placed regular season sides.

Henry Martin celebrates his goal 0-1 of America during the Quarterfinal first leg match between Leon and Club America
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Henry Martin celebrates his goal 0-1 of America during the Quarterfinal first leg match between Leon and Club AmericaCarlos Zepeda

Deciding the Liga MX winner

Things change slightly when we get to the final stage as league position only determines which team plays at home in the second leg. Should the aggregate score at the end of the second leg see both finalists tied, then extra time is played with two halves of 15 minutes. Should the scoreline still be drawn, then penalty kicks are used to determine the winner.

A case in point was the historic Atlas FC Apertura 2021 victory when the Guadalajara side won the title for the first time in 70 yearsTheir first leg away to Club Leon ended in a 3-2 loss for Atlas but a 1-0 second leg home win forced the tie to extra time. With no resolution after a further half an hour of action, the Foxes ultimately ran out winners with a 4-3 win on penalty kicks to the delight of the fans at the Estadio Jalisco.