The Liguilla semifinals are here, and Toluca, Leon, Santos and Pachuca are ready to battle to grab a ticket for the final showdown. Los Guerreros will face Los Tuzos, while Los Diablos Rojos are set to play against Los Panzas Verdes.
Santos vs. Pachuca
First leg: Wednesday, May 7, 9:30 p.m. ET, Estadio Hidalgo, Pachuca
Second leg: Saturday, May 10, 9 p.m. ET, Estadio Corona, Torreon
They have never met in the Liguilla since the short tournaments system was established in 1996.
Los Guerreros come from beating Club America in a rather interesting quarterfinal, in which they lost the first leg, 5-3, but won on home soil, 3-1, and eliminated Las Aguilas, 6-6.
Meanwhile, Pachuca had no trouble to overpower Pumas 5-3 on the aggregate.
Now, in the semifinals, Santos will visit Estadio Hidalgo, where they have only lost three times.
Beyond that, Los Guerreros have a better momentum than Pachuca, mainly because Club America was tougher than UNAM and because they had a better season.
Santos had the best offense of the 2014 Clausura, with 33 goals, eight from Oribe Peralta and seven from Darwin Quintero.
Peralta was the top Mexican scorer of the regular season, proving his fierceness and dedication, which by the way, couldn't come in better moment, as the World Cup is a month away, and he will wear El Tri jersey for sure.
In the flanks, Los Guerreros have Juan Pablo Rodriguez and Rodolfo Salinas, who provide depth and verticality with long runs and accurate passes.
In the center of the pitch, they have two youngsters, Alonso Escoboza and Ribair Rodriguez. They support the strikers by coming from behind to surprise the goalkeeper or by crafting plays.
Santos' weakest link is the defense. They play with a line of four, and all of them tend to lose track of the opponents. However, Pachuca don't characterize for being lethal in the attack, so that will help.
Toluca vs. Leon
First leg: Thursday, May 8, 9:05 p.m. ET, Nou Camp, Leon
Second leg: Sunday, May 11, 1 p.m. ET, Estadio Nemesio Diez, Toluca
Toluca finished second in the general table and defeated Tijuana in last week's quarterfinals. However, they lost to Cruz Azul in the CONCACAF Champions League and will face the dark horse of the Liguilla.
Leon did not have a spectacular season; actually they only won six games—one of those in the last matchday against Tijuana, which secured them the last ticket to the playoffs.
Once in the quarterfinals they faced Cruz Azul. After a draw to one goal at Nou camp, La Fiera went to La Maquina's turf, where they managed to tie the game and eliminate the tournament leader.
Leon accomplished the feat by showing a fantastic game, which included creativity from Luis Montes and Carlos Pena and ball possession from Juan Jose Vazquez and Jose Maria Cardenas.
Their midfield is one of the strongest and most balanced of the tournament, plus they know how to link it to the attacking zone.
Mauro Boselli keeps it cool when he has the ball; he knows when to shoot and when to pass it.
The defense is fantastic with Rafael Marquez in charge of the line. Edwin Hernandez, Juan Ignacio Gonzalez and Jonny Magallon complete one of the best-structured backbones.
In the quarterfinals, Leon proved what they are capable of and how lethal they can be when they have the ball. They play smart and fluid, which are their most valuable assets.
These two met for the last time in the Liguilla in the 1974/75 season, when Los Diablos Rojos took the title home.
All data provided by MedioTiempo.com unless otherwise stated.
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