The the first leg of the Toluca vs Cruz Azul Liga MX liguilla quarterfinal will take place this Saturday, November 23, 2013 (3:00 PM Pacific) at the Estadio Nemesio Diez in Toluca. Toluca finished off the season in 5th place with 27 points, while Cruz Azul ended up in fourth with 29 points. As the lower-seeded team, Toluca must host the first leg; away goal rules apply for the Liga MX liguilla, in case of a tie in the aggregate score (even with the away goal rule), the higher seeded team wins.
Coach Cardozo has created a powerful offense that can dominate possession and score plenty of goals. Throughout the regular season, Toluca became the best offense, scoring 33 goals in 17 matches, while still maintaining one of the best defenses, allowing, on average, one goal per game.
Pablo Velazquez was Toluca’s, and the entire league’s, best striker, scoring 12 goals in 15 appearances. Another key figure in the Toluca offense is Sinha, a creative midfielder who can hold on to the ball, and spread it around the field efficiently. Although Sinha is an aging player, he is still considered good enough to be called up to the Mexican National Team, where he made a couple of appearances in the Mexico vs New Zealand qualifiers.
Nonetheless, Toluca did not finish off the season very well; Toluca tied its last four matches. The absence of Sinha from the team – he was off with the Mexican National team – was likely the cause of the slump. Now, Sinha will be back in the lineup, and Toluca should look much stronger.
On the other side, we have a Cruz Azul squad that finished off the season winning two of its last five matches, and tying the other three. Coach Vazquez has created a team whose main feature is a strong defense; Cruz Azul only allowed 17 goals this season.
Cruz Azul was the fourth best away team in the Liga MX: winning three, tying three, and losing twice. Against Toluca, Cruz Azul must look to keep the score close, and attempt to score a vital away goal (due to the away goal rule). Cruz Azul will again be able to count with Luis Amaranto Perea (Colombia) Joao Rojas (Ecuador) and Jesus Corona, who were off with their national teams last week.
Toluca vs Cruz Azul Prediction
This will be a classic match-up between a very offensive teams and a defensive minded squad. It will all come down to whether Cruz Azul can inhibit Sinha’s play-making abilities, and stop Pablo Velazquez. Last time Toluca and Cruz Azul faced each other, the match ended 2-1 in favor of Cruz Azul.
For this quarterfinal match, I expect a similar, tight result. I predict the match will end in a 1-1 draw, where Cruz Azul will effectively neutralize the powerful Toluca offense. This quarterfinal series will be left wide open, everything will be decided at the Estadio Azul.
Toluca vs Cruz Azul TV Schedule
The Toluca vs Cruz Azul match will be televised this Saturday, November 23, 2013 on Univision Deportes at 3:00 PM Pacific.