A week stuffed full of Liga MX action threw up a surprise result or two, but which club emerged in the best shape following the league's doubleheader? Tom Marshall, Nayib Moran and Cesar Hernandez discuss, and look ahead to the weekend's contests in this edition of Talking Points.
Who came out of midweek round in best shape?
The team from Nuevo Leon has left its playoff charge late. After a lackluster early part of the season, the reigning champion needed to react on Tuesday. And Tigres did so in style in swatting away a depleted Chivas side 3-0 at Estadio Universitario.
French striker Andre-Pierre Gignac scored his first league goals since February and the three points puts Tigres right back in the playoff reckoning. But aside from what the win does for Tigres' Liguilla prospects, it was the way Ricardo "Tuca" Ferretti's teams controlled Chivas -- one of the league's best and in-form teams -- almost toying with the Guadalajara side, on the way to victory that will stick in the memory.
The clubs with title hopes and currently near the playoff zone should be hoping Tigres slip up on Saturday against Pumas because Tuesday's victory was a reminder to everyone that if Tigres do make the Liguilla -- and it still is an if with the team only on 16 points and in 11th position -- the Apertura 2016 champions will automatically be favorites for the Clausura.
Mention should also be made of Veracruz's crucial win over Puebla, which opened up the relegation race once again. -- Tom Marshall (@mexicoworldcup)
After coming back from a 2-0 deficit to finish with a 2-2 draw against Santos Laguna in Estadio Corona, Monterrey sealed an important week of its current season. Of the current top four, only Monterrey and Club Tijuana didn't lose their midweek matches. But without Dorlan Pabon, it was important for someone else in Rayados' squad to step up and Edwin Cardona did so by scoring three goals in the past two games. His third goal, a special one, leads one to believe that Cardona will head into the Liguilla in great form. -- Nayib Moran (@nayibmoran)
After the pivotal 1-0 away win against Queretaro, Liga MX's best attack is set to find a few goals against Chiapas this weekend. Although Los Jaguares shouldn't be taken too lightly, you'll seldom find anyone betting on the relegation contenders who have allowed 14 goals in their past six matches.
With Aviles Hurtado flying high in the attack, Tijuana could come close to securing a place in the playoffs with three points against Chiapas. Following the crucial victory against Queretaro, Xolos should be more than motivated to close out the busy week with a second win. -- Cesar Hernandez (@cesarhfutbol)
Midweek's biggest surprise
Cruz Azul winning at Toluca
Paco Jemez's team has played reasonably well and not picked up points for much of the season. It had become a repetitive pattern. But it was halted on Thursday and the effect of the injection of confidence on the side should be interesting when Cruz Azul travels to face Puebla on Sunday. -- Marshall
Toluca's 2-0 loss at home to Cruz Azul was the biggest surprise of the midweek. Despite the fact that the league regularly provides unexpected results, few could have predicted that the struggling Mexico City club would have been able to steal three points from the league leader at home. The game was a perfect embodiment of a Liga MX tournament that has showcased a near-astonishing level of parity. The title is up for grabs, and as seen in the loss for Toluca, there is no clear front-runner or favorite. -- Hernandez
Alvarez's rapid rise in America's XI
Club America is currently on a six-game unbeaten streak, showing a lot of defensive stability. During this streak, Las Aguilas have only conceded three goals. One of the reasons for America's defensive success has been the emergence of 19-year-old Edson Alvarez as one of America's most versatile defenders, capable to slot in as center-back or right-back. He makes the game simple with his passing and tackles, and what's worth pointing out is that he's already acting like a team captain. -- Moran
What you can't miss this weekend
Pachuca vs. Chivas
Los Tuzos are going through a mini slump with no goals scored and only two points gained in their past four Liga MX matches. Pachuca needs to halt the slide down the league, while Chivas manager Matias Almeyda will want to see a reaction from the midweek mauling by Tigres. -- Marshall
Pachuca has played 29 league games at Estadio Hidalgo without a loss; it's a place that has become a bunker for Los Tuzos. But their recent performances in league play have not been worthwhile. They are winless in their past four Liga MX games, and their past two home games ended in scoreless draws. With a hurt Chivas after a 3-0 loss to Tigres, Pachuca will host a dangerous opponent. -- Moran
Tigres vs. Pumas
With a few weeks left until the playoffs, both sides will need to immediately begin making a case for a spot in the top eight.
Tigres have so far been underwhelming for most of the season, but have made some progress in recent weeks. After Tuesday's dominant 3-0 victory over Chivas, anything seems possible for the current title holders sitting in 11th place.
As for Pumas, the eighth-placed team is on the cusp of being knocked out of a playoff position. An away win, or even a draw, should be enough to provide a late push into the final weeks of the regular season. -- Hernandez