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Liga MX ‘liguilla’: current playoffs format, qualification and criteria

Two places are still up for grabs in the Apertura 2022 playoffs, as the Liga MX regular season comes to a close on matchday 17 next weekend.

Two places are still up for grabs in the Apertura 2022 playoffs, as the Liga MX regular season comes to a close on matchday 17 next weekend.
Adrian MaciasMEXSPORT

Ahead of next weekend’s final round of Apertura 2022 regular-season matches, 10 of the 12 spots in the Liga MX liguilla - Mexico’s postseason playoffs - have so far been filled. Five teams remain in contention to take the last two berths in the Apertura’s final phase, which takes place over three weeks this October and will determine the identity of the latest Mexican champions.

A format introduced in Mexico’s elite league in 1970, the playoffs initially featured only two teams, but in the half-century since have evolved into their current, four-stage composition: a single-game preliminary round known as the repechaje, followed by quarter-finals, semi-finals and a final, all played over two home-and-away legs.

When do the Apertura 2022 playoffs start?

The eight-team repechaje, which involves the clubs that finish the regular season from fifth to 12th in the table, are to be played on 8 and 9 October.

Awaiting the four winners of those ties will be the regular season’s top four teams, who are given a bye in the preliminary round and go straight into the quarter-finals. The last eight is to get underway three days after the conclusion of the repechaje, with the playoffs then progressing towards a final that will be decided on 30 October.

Apertura 2022 playoffs: dates in full

  • Repechaje: 8 and 9 October
  • Quarter-final first legs: 12 and 13 October
  • Quarter-final second legs: 15 and 16 October
  • Semi-final first legs: 19 and 20 October
  • Semi-final second legs: 22 and 23 October
  • Final first leg: 27 October
  • Final second leg: 30 October

Who has qualified? Who is still in contention to qualify?

Three teams - Club América, Monterrey and Pachuca - are guaranteed a top-four regular-season finish and a direct ticket to the quarter-finals.

As things stand, Santos Laguna sit fourth in the table and will be the final side given a preliminary-round bye, but they’re not yet mathematically assured of their spot. That said, fifth-placed Tigres are three points behind and have a goal difference that’s considerably worse than Los Guerreros’, so it will take quite a final-day swing for Santos to miss out on qualification for the quarters.

Lower down the Apertura 2022 table, Toluca, Puebla, Chivas, León and Cruz Azul are all certain to finish outside the top four but inside the top 12, and will go into the repechaje regardless of what happens at the weekend. That quintet will be joined by two of Necaxa, Atlético San Luis, Mazatlán, Juárez and Tijuana.

Pumas, Atlas and Querétaro have all been eliminated.

Teams through to playoffs: at a glance

  • Club América (QF)
  • Monterrey (QF)
  • Pachuca (QF)
  • Santos Laguna (QF/repechaje)
  • Tigres (QF/repechaje)
  • Toluca (repechaje)
  • Puebla (repechaje)
  • Chivas (repechaje)
  • León (repechaje)
  • Cruz Azul (repechaje)
Guillermo Ochoa's América lead the Apertura 2022 regular-season standings ahead of matchday 17.
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Guillermo Ochoa's América lead the Apertura 2022 regular-season standings ahead of matchday 17.MEXSPORT

Final league position key to playoff draw

Even for those teams that are already through to the playoffs and know which round they’ll be starting in, there’ll still be something at stake on the final matchday of the regular season. That’s because the 12 playoff teams are seeded based on their final position in the table, so - in theory, at least - clubs will get an easier draw the higher up they finish.

In the repechaje, fifth faces 12th, sixth faces 11th, and so on - and the four highest-ranked sides are given home ties.

Repechaje seedings:

  • 5th vs 12th
  • 6th vs 11th
  • 7th vs 10th
  • 8th vs 9th

In the quarter-finals, the regular season’s top four are then paired in order of league finish with progressively higher-ranked repechaje winners.

Quarter-final seedings:

  • 1st vs 8th
  • 4th vs 5th
  • 2nd vs 7th
  • 3rd vs 6th

Matchday 17: final round of regular-season fixtures:

  • Puebla vs América - Friday 30 Oct, 8pm ET
  • Juárez vs Pumas - Friday 30 Oct, 10pm ET
  • Atlético San Luis vs Tigres - Saturday 1 Nov, 10:05pm ET
  • Monterrey vs Pachuca - Saturday 1 Nov, 6:05pm ET
  • Atlas vs Necaxa - Saturday 1 Nov, 8:05pm ET
  • Cruz Azul vs Chivas - Saturday 1 Nov, 10:05pm ET
  • Toluca vs Querétaro - Sunday 2 Nov, 1pm ET
  • Santos Laguna vs Mazatlán - Sunday 2 Nov, 7:05pm ET
  • León vs Tijuana - Sunday 2 Nov, 9pm ET

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