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What happens if two or more teams finish level on points in Liga MX Apertura 2023?

América, Monterrey, Tigres and Chivas have already qualified for the ‘liguilla’, but there is lots to play for elsewhere.

Chivas - Pumas: Horario, TV; cómo y dónde ver en USA la Liguilla de la Liga MX
Jose Luis Melgarejo

Matchday 17 of Liga MX’s Apertura 2023 is already underway, with some teams, including Club América and Monterrey, already assured of their place in the end-of-tournament playoffs, while others are scrambling to qualify for the liguilla or the new play-in round.

A change in format means the league’s top six teams now qualify directly for the quarter-finals, with those finishing between seventh and 10th entering the play-in round.

How does the new Liga MX play-in work?

The team that finishes seventh hosts the eighth-place team, with the winner sealing their place in the quarter-finals. The loser of that fixture then hosts the winner of the meeting between the ninth and 10th-place teams for the final last-eight berth. Simple, right?

The top four teams (América, Rayados, Tigres and Chivas) have already claimed quarter-finals places, while only a freak set of results will see fifth-placed Pumas drop out of the top six. After that, only three points separate Atlético San Luis in sixth and Santos Laguna, who are currently 13th, although four clubs in that block (Mazatlán, Pachuca, Toluca and Tijuana) have already played their final fixtures.

What tie-breaker does Liga MX use?

The closeness of eight teams in the standings means there is a high probably of one or more teams finishing on level points, and a tie-breaker could even have to be used to decide who ultimately takes the last two places in the top six, and the four play-in spots.

Different competitions used different tie-breakers, with the UEFA Champions League, for instance, recently changing from goal difference to head-to-head record as the first differentiator. In the Mexican top flight, goal difference across the 17 fixtures is used to separate teams finishing level on points, with number of goals scored next. Results in matches between the clubs in question is only the third tie-breaker.

Full list of Liga MX tie-breakers

  1. Point
  2. Goal difference
  3. Number of goals scored
  4. Head-to-head results between tied teams
  5. Number of goals scored away
  6. Highest relegation coefficient
  7. Fair Play points

Pumas all but assured of playoff place

As a result, the chances of Pumas dropping out of the top six are incredibly remote. They would have to lose against Chivas in Ciudad Universitaria and seventh-placed Puebla would have to win away to Cruz Azul, all the while making up a 10-goal swing. Atlético San Luis, currently between the two in sixth, would also have to triumph in their home clash against Santos Laguna.