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This guide was created from a video on our youtube channel - you can find a link to the video here or at the end of this guide.
Welcome to the SortitoutSI League Guide for Mexico - where we’ll look at the league structure within Football Manager 2023 and run through a few save ideas if you want to start your career in Mexico.
On FM23, Mexico has two playable divisions and 36 playable teams. Mexico - in typical Central American fashion - takes influence from their neighbours from the North and the South with their league structure. With a season split in half with an Opening and Closing league - and the inclusion of a Playoff to decide the Champions for each phase.
During both the Apertura and Clausura phases, you play each other team once to make 17 games during each tournament. The top 12 teams make it through to the Liguilla or playoffs in each tournament. With the top 4 being seeded and automatically reaching the quarter finals - whilst the remaining 8 teams enter a reclassification play-in round over a single leg hosted by the higher ranked team. Once we enter the quarter finals - the knockouts are played over two legs, including the final. The winner wins the Torneo Apertura or the Torneo Clausura - with both tournaments having the same format.
If two different teams win the Apertura and the Clausura they will face in the season opening Campeon de Campeones match to determine the overall champion. The winner of that match faces the reigning Major League Soccer champions from the USA in the Campeones Cup. If the same team wins the Apertura and Clausura - as was the case in the 2021-22 season - they are automatically crowned Campeon de Campeones.
We’ve touched on the USA - and the Campeones Cup is not the only competition shared between Mexico and the USA. All Liga MX clubs and all MLS clubs face off in the Leagues Cup. From 2023 onwards, the 47 team competition will begin - with the reigning Liga MX (either the Apertura or Clausura winners depending on who has the most points in the aggregate table) and MLS winners automatically qualify for the round of 32. The remaining 45 teams are split across 15 groups of 3 - the teams in each group play each other once and the top 2 advance into the knockout rounds. The two finalists and the winner of the third place playoff will enter the CONCACAF Champions League.
Speaking of the CONCACAF Champions League - Mexico will have 6 more qualifying places once the tournament expands to 27 teams in 2024. The winners and runners up of both the Apertura and Clausura tournaments plus the next best teams in the aggregate table - either 2, 3 or 4 depending on whether the same two teams make the finals of either tournament. For the 2023 Champions League in the current format - the total qualifying places is just 4 for Mexico; once again covering the finalist of both tournaments and heading to the aggregate table if required to fill the final slots.
We haven’t touched on relegation and promotion from Liga MX and the second tier Liga de Expansion MX - and that is because there isn’t any currently. Due to the pandemic, the former second tier Liga Ascenso MX was disbanded and replaced by the Liga de Expansion MX. The current “stabilisation” project means that no relegations will take place for approximately 6 years - but having simulated in FM2023 the game models this for just the first season, with promotion and relegation opening back up for the second season within the game.
Once relegation does become available again; it gets a little complicated. Like in many South American League systems with two tournaments per season, an aggregated, percentage table is used. In Mexico, this looks at the points per game ratio of each team across the last 6 tournaments (regular season only, not playoffs) so it covers 3 full seasons of football. The team at the bottom of this table will be relegated. It is this table that is used to issue the fines that are dealt for poor performance in Mexico as well.
The Liga de Expansion MX broadly follows the same structure as the top tier. With the season split into a Torneo Apertura and a Torneo Clausura - complete with 12 team Liguillas for each tournament and it’s own Campeon de Campeones match between tournament winners. The same 3-season aggregated percentage or coefficient table exists and is used for the calculation of fines and also, eventually, determining which team will be promoted to the Liga MX.
I think we’ve covered everything in terms of the domestic structure, so let’s move on to five save ideas - ranging from potential Liga MX Champions to sides who will be stuck in the second tier.
The first club is the current reigning Campeon de Campeones after winning both the Torneo Apertura and Torneo Clausura in the 2021/22 season - Atlas FC from Guadalajara. The club tasted their first success in the 1950’s but after a 70-year drought they became the team to beat last season when it came to the playoffs. Despite finishing 2nd and 3rd in the Apertura and Clausura - they came through to win both sets of playoffs to become Bicampeones. There season wasn’t without controversy though as a game away at Queretaro was marred by a large riot resulting in Queretaro fans being barred from games for up to a year. Your challenge with Atlas is to take the club to further glory - both in the Champions League and in the defence of their two titles.
At the time of this recording the Apertura of the 2022/23 season has been completed - with CF Pachuca taking the 7th title. After spending the first 90+ years of their history in relative mediocrity, Los Tuzos have been one of the most successfull Mexican clubs of the last 25 years - taking 7 domestic titles along with 5 CONCACAF Champions League victories and a Copa Sudamericana when Mexican sides could play in the South American competition. By taking the reins of one of Mexico’s most successful clubs, you’ll need to immediately replicate their success in the Apertura and continue to build on their 7 titles and lead the charge in the Champions League.
We can’t talk about Mexico’s most successful clubs without mentioning Club America - the team with the most titles in the league’s history with 13. Not only do the Aguilas have the record for Liga MX titles - they also hold the record for the CONCACAF Champions League with 7 victories as well. Unsurprisingly, a team with such history has many rivals - with their games against UNAM, Chivas and Cruz Azul all being massive games on the schedule. America have won 2 of the last 3 regular seasons, so comfortably sit at the top of the aggregated points table - but have not converted their regular season performances into a title since 2018. And that is your challenge, take this great side and extend their records in both the Liga MX and the Champions League.
We drop down to the Liga de Expansion MX now to look at Atlante FC. Los Potros de Hierro are former 3-time Mexican Champions and have 2 CONCACAF Champions League victories to their name - but have been in the second tier since 2014. They have however won the Liga de Expansion MX Torneo Apertura in both the 2021/22 and the current 2022/23 season so are well placed for a return to the top flight once promotion and relegation resumes. Atlante are a former big club with plenty of history and are well placed as a side for you to take back to the top of Mexican football.
The final side that we are going to look at are Leones Negros from the Universidad de Guadalajara. UdeG have a storied history including winning the CONCACAF Champions’ Cup in 1978 but the club saw a decline and amongst alleged questionable financial dealings the club was sold in 1994 to the Mexican Football Federation which led to a restructure of the league system. Several years of confusing restructures to the club, including the reserve team becoming the first team and the franchise being sold and then returning to Guadalajara - eventually UdeG found themselves in the Liga MX in 2015. After just a single season they were relegated to the Ascenso MX and remained in the second tier once the Liga de Expansion MX was created in 2020. The club have a confusing history but 45 years on from their Champions Cup victory now might be the time for you to take them back to the top and claim domestic glory.
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