As Liga MX playoffs loom, Pachuca pushes forward

Action from the Liga MX Apertura game between host Pachuca (right) and Atlas on October 29, 2016, in Pachuca, Mexico. (Photo: Straffon Images)


PACHUCA, Mexico – A 3-2 win over visiting Atlas on Saturday in the Liga MX Apertura has served to lift the expectations of Pachuca head coach Diego Alonso heading into the final two weeks of the regular season. 

Although the second-place Tuzos (9W-3D-3L, 30 points) are unbeaten in seven straight games (including three consecutive wins) and sit three points behind table-topping Club Tijuana, the 41-year-old wants to see improvement.

“We didn’t have a good game, not in the first half nor in the second half,” said Alonso. “We have to have self-criticism. We pushed, had commitment, determination and that is how we got the result. It’s the merit of all the players.”

Defending champion Pachuca will complete the regular season with a trip to Cruz Azul on Saturday, before hosting Club America on November 19. Alonso insists, however, that he isn’t consumed with the idea of a first-place finish.

“I’m not obsessed with being the league leader,” he commented. “Yes, I would like it. We strive each day to be higher. It isn’t something that we obsess about. If we have the chance, it would be great, but we know that Tijuana will not make it easy for us.”

The Uruguayan also cautioned against taking the “favorite” label too seriously.

“Being in the playoffs, I believe we are candidates for the title, but equally so are the other seven teams that are in it,” concluded Alonso.

Last month, Pachuca sealed a place in the 2016/17 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals, where it will face Costa Rica’s Saprissa twice in February.