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Who will Cruz Azul face in Apertura 2022 playoffs preliminary round?

After Michael Estrada’s last-gasp winner against Chivas Guadalajara, Cruz Azul are guaranteed to be at home in the Apertura 2022 playoffs ‘repechaje’.

Edgardo Avelar
Update:
After Michael Estrada’s last-gasp winner against Chivas Guadalajara, Cruz Azul are guaranteed to be at home in the Apertura 2022 playoffs ‘repechaje’.
CLAUDIO CRUZAFP

Cruz Azul’s win over Chivas Guadalajara on the final matchday of the regular season saw La Máquina confirm a home tie in the preliminary round of the Apertura 2022 playoffs.

After Uriel Antuna’s first-half opener for Cruz Azul on Sunday, Sergio Flores’ 68th-minute leveller appeared to have earned Chivas a point at the Estadio Azteca. However, Michael Estrada’s stoppage-time goal secured a 2-1 victory for the hosts, allowing them to move up to seventh at the expense of their visitors.

Cruz Azul set to face one of two playoff opponents

The identity of Cruz Azul’s opponents in the opening stage of the playoffs, known as the repechaje, will be confirmed in León’s clash with Tijuana on Sunday. As it stands, it is 10th-placed León who will visit the nine-time Mexican champions; but if Los Esmeraldas win at the Estadio León, it will be Chivas.

Defeat to Cruz Azul sent Guadalajara down to ninth in the regular-season standings, Ricardo Cadena’s men dropping two spots because eighth-placed Puebla, who also have 22 points, now have the same goal difference - and have scored six more goals. Chivas are one point ahead of León, with a superior goal difference.

La Máquina can still finish sixth... but it’s almost impossible

It is still possible for Cruz Azul to rise to sixth by the end of matchday 17, leaving them with a playoff tie against the 11th-placed team in the Apertura 2022 regular season - currently Juárez. This is extremely unlikely, however: Toluca, who are one above Los Celestes on goal difference, would need to lose by a nine-goal margin to bottom club Querétaro.

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Previous preliminary-round meeting with Chivas

Were Cruz Azul to face Chivas in the repechaje, it would be the teams’ second meeting at this stage of the playoffs. The sides went head to head in the preliminary round of the Clausura 2003 postseason, Guadalajara producing a memorable comeback to advance to the quarter-finals.

After a 4-1 first-leg triumph for Cruz Azul (now held in single-game format, the repechaje was previously played over two legs), Chivas recovered to win by the same scoreline in the return. With the tie finishing level at 5-5, El Rebaño Sagrado went through by virtue of being the higher-seeded team.

Cruz Azul’s seventh repechaje

Overall, this will be the seventh time that Cruz Azul have had to negotiate the preliminary round. In their six previous repechaje appearances, they have progressed on three occasions: against Tecos in the Apertura 2003, and against Pachuca in the Clausura 2004 and Apertura 2007.

Cruz Azul’s previous repechaje results:

  • Apertura 2021: Cruz Azul 1-4 Monterrey
  • Apertura 2007: Pachuca 0-6 Cruz Azul*
  • Clausura 2004: Pachuca 1-4 Cruz Azul*
  • Clausura 2003: Chivas 5-5 Chivas*
  • Apertura 2003: Cruz Azul 4-1 Tecos*
  • Verano 2002: Cruz Azul 2-5 Morelia*

*Aggregate score over two legs

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