Marco Antonio Palacios, playing for Pumas UNAM.
Every single game matters in Round 15 of the Mexican Primera's 2011 Apertura. All 18 teams are still alive in the playoff hunt, with not even first placed Chivas locked into a Liguilla place.
There are three rounds remaining in the Mexican Primera 2011 Apertura, and somehow, some way, all 18 teams are mathematically alive in the race for Liguilla. It's highly likely that Atlas will be eliminated this week and that Tijuana will be eliminated either this week or next, but there are still going to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 14-16 teams that have a mathematical chance of qualifying for the playoffs on the final day. Even in a league well noted for its lack of predictability, this is insane.
Generally, matches that feature teams near the top of the table against teams outside of Liguilla places don't get much attention unless they're Clasicos. However, first and 13th place are currently separated by just seven points. Though it would take a miracle, first placed Chivas Guadalajara have not yet clinched a playoff place with three matches remaining. They could drop out of the CONCACAF Champions League places by Thursday and out of Copa Libertadores places by the end of the tournament.
This means that every game matters this round. It is likely that every game will matter in Jornada 16 as well. More than half of the games will matter on the final day of the season. This is, perhaps, the most even tournament in the world involving a fully professional top flight league.
Monarcas Morelia Vs. Pachuca
Tuesday, 9:30 pm ET
Morelia currently sits outside of Liguilla places, but they also have a game in hand. They continued their quest to be incredibly boring with a 1-1 draw against Atlas over the weekend, while Pachuca, who are usually entertaining to a fault, somehow drew 0-0 with Pumas UNAM. Morelia are actually worse at home than on the road this season (again), so it wouldn't be stunning to see Pachuca nick this. However, a draw seems the most likely result.
Cruz Azul Vs. Toluca
Wednesday, 8:00 pm ET
It's been a rough two weeks for Cruz Azul, who put in poor performances in a 1-1 draw against San Luis and a 1-0 loss to Queretaro. Toluca, meanwhile, have awoken from their slumber. After going through the first 12 rounds of the season as an absolutely unwatchable team, they lost 3-2 to Santos two weeks ago and defeated Puebla 4-3 last week. The ageless Sinha has found his second wind, while striker Ivan Alonso is on fire and appears to be headed towards the golden boot. Toluca have a tendency to play conservatively on the road, but hopefully this one ends up being as fun as their last two matches.
Chivas Guadalajara Vs. UANL Tigres
Wednesday, 9:00 pm ET
In a season filled with inconsistent performances from the entire league, Chivas and Tigres are two of the teams who have even approached consistency, and that's with Chivas firing their manager. Both teams are coming off of Clasicos, with Chivas blowing out Club America and Tigres drawing Monterrey 0-0. Tigres have far and away the best defense in the league, while the Chivas back like at least feaures the most talent in the league, even if they haven't gotten the best results yet. A low score seems likely.
Tijuana Vs. Jaguares Chiapas
Wednesday, 11:00 pm ET
Ladies and gentlemen, Jackson Martinez has returned. The often injured Jaguares star striker has three goals in his last two games and finally looks to be in full form and fitness. Inevitably, he'll suffer some kind of devastating injury in Liguilla, but for the time being he's fit and ready to torture a shaky Tijuana defense. Last time the Xolos played at home, they defeated Pachuca in front of an absolutely unbelievable crowd. Tijuana are oh so close to getting off of the bottom coefficient spot in their battle against relegation, and they'll be up for the fight even though Liguilla is realistically - but not mathematically - out of reach.
Puebla vs. Estudiantes Tecos - Wednesday, 9:00 pm ET
Monterrey vs. Atlas - Wednesday, 9:00 pm ET
San Luis vs. Queretaro - Wednesday, 9:30 pm ET
Santos Laguna vs. Club America - Wednesday, 10:00 pm ET
UNAM Pumas vs. Atlante - Wednesday, 10:00 pm ET