Home field advantage plays a role in any professional game around the globe, but in Mexico it has a particularly large impact due to the sizable and passionate crowds that fill the seats each weekend. Of course, the crowd isn’t the only thing that makes a home game a home game. You’ve got to take weather, altitude, start time, field size, and more into account as well. Fans debate a lot about which team has the most intimidating home crowd, and the largest advantage in general. So today, we’re going to use a few different methods to break down every Liga MX stadium and see if we can find the answer.
One simple way to see who does the best at home is to simply look at who earns the most points at home. Disclaimer: This table (and all others to follow) will use the six previous tournaments as well as the current Apertura season thus far, and will NOT take playoff, Copa MX, or Continental games into account.
|TEAM||HOME MATCHES||HOME POINTS|
Now according to this, Rayados are the best home team in the league, which is a believable result. BUT this method has a flaw; and that is that it heavily favors teams that are superior overall. From this data we cannot tell whether Monterrey earned so many home points because of home field advantage itself, or simply because they are a very good team.
We can fix this by instead looking not at the total number of home points, but rather by looking at the percentage of total points each team earns at home:
|TEAM||PERCENT OF PTS AT HOME|
A bit of a shock, isn’t it? According to this data it’s Veracruz who have the best success at home, with Rayados coming in second. It’s worth noting that, unsurprisingly, every team (besides BUAP and their very small sample size) earns more points at home than on the road.
Now, it probably surprises you to see Veracruz, Puebla, and Querétaro near the top of the list. The probable reason for this is something that we didn’t account for: failure on the road. Veracruz do score a lot of points at home, but what propels them to the top of the chart is their complete inability to pick up away points. A good team like Monterrey are constantly picking up road points, making it harder to maintain a high percentage of points earned at home.
Based on this we can conclude without a doubt that Veracruz are impacted the most by playing at home/away, and that they have the highest calculated home field advantage.
However, with Rayados still being second on this list as well as first in total home points, one can certainly argue that they have the biggest true home field advantage. Pachuca and Pumas are in the debate as well. All three certainly pass the eye test, and combined with this numerical evidence it’s tough to deny that these are the most difficult places to play.
América, interestingly enough, are down at the bottom, earning barely more than half of their points at home. Sounds strange, but we can make sense of this: América almost always have the easiest road games because they have away fans in every city, so they almost never have to deal with the full force of an away crowd.
The size of the crowd no doubt has an impact; we all know it’s harder to play in front of 50,000 fans than it is to play in front of 10,000. Below is a table showing the average crowd size for all 18 current Liga MX teams over the past 6½ tournaments:
First of all, one thing that shouldn’t surprise anyone is that the teams with the larger stadiums are up near the top. Tigres for example, average 40,000 fans a game, which is unattainable for 11 out of the 18 teams in the league because they don’t have enough seats for all those people. As such, take these numbers with a grain of salt; we’ll cover this issue a bit later.
No surprises here, with Monterrey, Tigres, and América making up the top 3. Rayados could’ve had an even larger lead if they had built the new Estadio BBVA a bit sooner; the old Tecnológico only held 36,000. None of this is really news to fans of the league, but it is helpful to see the exact figures for every team.
But what really has more impact than the size of the crowd is the size relative to the stadium. What’s more intimidating: 40,000 fans at a packed El Volcán or 50,000 at a half full Azteca? El Volcán will be louder and more crazy simply because there won’t be any empty seats to take away from the atmosphere.
This method, however, has the inverse problem of the above. While total crowd size favors teams with larger stadiums, Capacity Percentage favors teams with smaller ones. Is it really fair to penalize América for not being able to fill a gigantic stadium like Azteca, when Tijuana get credit for filling in the comparatively tiny Estadio Caliente? Perhaps not, but whether it’s “fair” or it isn’t, the lack of empty seats still benefits the home side.
*This team has had multiple stadiums during the calculation period. Only data from the current stadium was used for this table.
We can see from this that Tigres more or less sell out every league game, and Tijuana aren’t far behind. Monterrey, to their credit, still maintain an impressive top three position in this category.
As to be expected, América and UNAM can’t hold up by this measure, with their massive home stadiums both being only half-full on average.
So what does all of this tell us? Monterrey were the only team ranked high in every category, so this data would suggest that they have the toughest fortress in the league. They get the points at home, have a massive crowd, and fill up the stadium quite nicely, so it’s hard to argue against them.
But, not everything about home field advantage is quantifiable. There’s no mathematical way to see which fans are the rowdiest, no way to calculate the impact of Pumas playing on Sunday afternoon, and no way to tell if the seats and field being separated by a track really has an impact.
For my money, Monterrey, Tigres and Tijuana have to be the top 3 based on these findings. América, Chivas, Atlas, UNAM, Pachuca, and others all enter the conversation in the liguilla when the seats really start to fill in, but day to day they don’t quite hold up.