And then there were four. The semi-finals are set and now four teams are left looking for all the glory, the 2010 Apertura Championship. The quarter-finals gave us some interesting and intense games, but it also gave us a big surprise. Cruz Azul, the Superlider of the regular season were kicked out by 8th seeded Pumas, in what many people saw the biggest surprise of the season.
The favorites won their first leg 2-1, but the surprising young squad of Pumas made a comeback in the second leg winning 2-0 (3-2 aggregate). Cruz Azul ends their great season with a disappointing loss, sending heartbreak to all their fans who had high hopes for their team this season.
The other favorite on the other hand, Monterrey, moved on to the semi-finals, in an intense match up with Pachuca. After a 1-1 tie in the first game, Monterrey and Pachuca tied in an intense second game 3-3. By far the best game of the quarter finals. After two ties, Monterrey moved on because of their better position on the table throughout the league.
One of the most anticipated match ups in the quarter finals was Santos vs Jaguares. After two games played, Santos moved on to the semi-finals with an aggregate score of 2-1. This match up did not live up to its expectation based on the teams run towards the end of the season. In the second match when it seemed that the game was going to end 0-0, Santos was awarded a penalty that sealed the game for them and sent Jaguares home.
The "brothers" of this years liguilla went head to head in an intense first game, that surprisingly ended 0-0. Back in the Azteca, America showed its dominance over San Luis and easily beat "Los Gladiadores" 4-1 and moved on to the semi-finals waiting for its next opponent.
Now we have four teams going head to head trying to reach this seasons final. Both match ups, on paper, seem to be interesting games. Here is a preview of the 2010 Apertura Semi-finals...
(2nd) Monterrey vs. (8th) Pumas
Apertura 2010 result: Monterrey 5-2 Pumas
Preview: Pumas comes into this game highly motivated after beating Cruz Azul and proving many people wrong, including me. Monterrey beat Pachuca in an intense game, but also come in having one of the best overall seasons behind Cruz Azul. But in the Liguilla anything can happen. Both Pumas and Monterrey are looking to reach the final, and how the quarter finals where, the winner in this series is hard to predict.
On paper, Monterrey is the favorite because of their regular season and their consistency throughout it, but after what Pumas did to Cruz Azul, both teams seem even in this match-up and should put on a great show for us.
Prediction: Pumas advances (3-2 aggregate)
Pumas vs Monterrey, Thursday 25th @ Estadio Olimpico
Monterrey vs Pumas, Sunday 29th @ Estadio Tecnológico
(3rd) Santos vs. (4th) America
Apertura 2010 result: America 3-2 Santos
Preview: The real test for America seems to be in the semi-finals vs Santos. After cruising in the game vs San Luis, America will now be tested by a stronger team. Santos had a very even match up with Chiapas, and moved on to the semi finals after playing two even games vs Jaguares.
America will have to make their home an advantage in the first game. Santos is one of the toughest teams at home, and can easily take that to their advantage playing in front of their crowd. There really isn't a favorite in this match up, but this looks to be another even match, and we should expect two good entertaining games.
Prediction: Santos advances (4-3 aggregate)
America vs Santos, Wednesday 24th @ Estadio Azteca
Santos vs America, Saturday 27th @ Estadio Corona