With every championship hunt in soccer there’s another battle on the other end of the spectrum, the battle of relegation. In la Liga MX it’s no different with teams trying to stay in Mexico’s top flight, knowing full well how hard it is to get back to Liga MX once you’ve dropped.
Teams like Necaxa, Estudiantes Tecos, and Leones Negros all have had success in Mexico’s top flight, but for one reason or another fell to the second division and have struggled to get back. In the case of Leones Negros, they made the return after almost a decade in the second division only to be bounced back down after a year.
Relegation is a tricky process in Mexico, unlike other leagues where the worst team or teams that year drop, it’s not so cut and dry down south. Liga MX uses a formula where it takes your points earned over the last three seasons over your games played not including any Liguilla or playoff games. From that formula it gives you a percentage; the team with the lowest percentage at the end of the Clausura season is the one that will drop.
The main reason why this is done is to protect Mexico’s biggest and most important teams from relegating. It allows those teams not to be punished for having a bad season or two and allows them time to regroup and fix those mistakes. At the same time it punishes those who consistently fail to produce on the field.
For the newly promoted team it’s tricky since they start off with zero points and zero games. On the bright side if that team is able to win their early games they gain a large percentage point to start off since every win more valuable than a team who’s been in the league for three years (For example, a win for a newly promoted team starts off at a 3:1 ration points to game played if they win, while a team already in the league it’s closer to a 1:1 ration for all the games played over the last three years).
At the same time, if they struggle off the bat, getting momentum started and scrapping to just get draws can put the team in a big hole and one that is difficult to get out. With only one team relegating a year and the way it’s determined which team drops the relegation battle is one that goes deep into the last part of the season and is usually determined in the final few matches.
With 17 games in the Clausura, the battle for relegation no different this year with four teams in real danger, while two more enter the season flirting with the possibilities.
*Entering the start of the season every team besides Dorados, who were the team to earn promotion last year, have played a total of 85 games. Meaning their percentage is based off their total points earned over the last five tournaments (or two and a half years), or those 85 games. Dorados are at 17 games, meaning their percentage moving at a greater level with every win.
13/14. Tied with 106 points out of 85 games (106/85= 1.2471) Veracruz and Tijuana find themselves keeping their heads plenty above water with 12 points separating them from the team second to last at 94. That’s where the similarities end though, as Tijuana finished last season with only 16 points and second to last in the table. Veracruz on the other hand have finished the last two seasons with 28 and 27 points and have made the playoffs both times. A strong start to the season for both teams will easily put any fear of relegation in the rear view mirror, but a bumpy start and a strong start from the other teams and things might get a bit sweaty for them.
15. Puebla find themselves at 100 points out of 85 games (100/85= 1.765) and only a half-step ahead of the teams below them. A strong Apertura saw them get 27 points and a spot in the playoffs, and earn breathing room as their four points below the team in 16th place and six below the team in 17th. It will be important for Puebla to continue what they built on last year since they don’t have the deepest or strongest roster in Liga MX on paper. Unlike Tijuana or Veracruz, a poor start to their season and they could easily find themselves in the heat of the relegation battle after only a few weeks.
16. Mexican giants Chivas are third from the bottom overall with 96 points out of 85 points (96/85=1.1294). While they’re only four points behind Puebla, they’re only two points ahead of the team below them, meaning they’re right in the fire of this relegation battle. Out of all the teams battling to stay up, Chivas are the ones with the strongest roster and most money. Yet it has been that way for the last few years and they still find themselves here. While the talent is there, the results are not. The question will be can they grind out results when they need to or will one bad results lead to another like in seasons past. There is no room for error for one of the truly historic teams of Mexico as a bad start to the season will put huge pressure of this team. Also, if Chivas get to a bad start, owner Jorge Vergara is known for his quick trigger on firing coaches and could see coach Matias Almeyda get the hook.
17. Monarcas Morelia are the team second to last in the relegation table, and last out of all the teams whom have played the 85 games with 94 points (94/85=1.1059). The Apertura 14-Clausura 15 saw Morelia only collect 23 points in the two seasons combined. During the summer the club owners did an overhaul on the roster and saw them collect 23 points in the Apertura 15, the same amount of points they collected the whole soccer year a year before. Enrique Meza is one of Mexico’s most decorated and respected coaches, and the team is built of experienced players. What might separate them from Chivas is they possess more of an ability of grinding out results. Only two points below Chivas, an early season matchup in round four against Chivas at home could propel one team to survival.
18. Sitting at the bottom of the relegation table is the newest team In la Liga MX as Dorados were only able to collect 15 points from the 17 games in the Apertura (15/17=.8823) finishing bottom of both the regular season table and the relegation table. Dorados do have some quality pieces but after such a poor start they will have to go for broke and get as many early wins as possible to put pressure on the other teams. The positive for them is a few early wins and their percentage points increase highly. If Dorados are unable to get early results and get deeper into the hole, the writing will be on the wall and it could be a long and painful Clausura.