Best Liga MX semifinal XI: Club America dominate to reach finals vs. Cruz Azul
The semifinals of the Liga MX 2018 Apertura playoffs are now finished. Following another exciting week, only two teams remain in the hunt for the title: Club America and Cruz Azul.
A thrilling final series between the two Mexico City rivals awaits, but here's a look back at some of the best individual performances from the semifinal stage.
GK: Agustin Marchesin, Club America
During the 1-1 draw against Pumas in the first leg of the semifinal, Marchesin made six saves and put in one of his best goalkeeping performances. Following the draw, the Argentine held strong in the ensuing 6-1 demolition of Pumas in the second leg and is finding his momentum at the perfect moment for Las Aguilas.
DF: Pablo Aguilar, Cruz Azul
Aguilar is entering the Liguilla finals with more clearances, interceptions and blocked shots than any other Cruz Azul player in the semifinal round. The central defender is an invaluable member of Los Cementeros' XI, and if there is any hope of surprising Club America in the race for the title, they'll need the 31-year-old Paraguayan to be at his very best.
DF: Bruno Valdez, Club America
Another day, another goal for Valdez. The defender collected his seventh of the season during Sunday's 6-1 thrashing of Pumas. That said, there's much more to the Paraguayan than just his unexpected presence in the attack and he can always be counted on for clearances that help solidify Las Aguilas' backline.
DF: Emanuel Aguilera, Club America
Similar to Valdez, Aguilera also stepped up against Pumas with a goal of his own. In the 71st minute, the Argentine central defender found the back of the net with a well-placed penalty. He has also been vital for his team with his aggressive defensive presence and occasional long passes down the flanks.
MF: Renato Ibarra, Club America
You can't ask for more than a goal and two assists. Ibarra was brilliant in Sunday's lopsided victory that helped Club America waltz to the finals. Whether he's used as a starter or substitute, the Ecuadorian has thrived in his last few games.
MF: Mateus Uribe, Club America
There's no telling where Club America would be without their most important playmaker. Energetic and efficient, the Colombian is heading to the finals off the back of two assists in the semifinals and, as long as Uribe remains healthy and in form, Club America will easily remain as the favorite for the 2018 Apertura title.
MF: Ivan Marcone, Cruz Azul
A massive amount of credit is due to the Argentine midfielder who helps Cruz Azul keep possession. Against Monterrey in the semis, Marcone shone as a key distributor in his role in the heart of midfield.
MF: Guido Rodriguez, Club America
Rodriguez highlighted why he is considered one of the best defensive midfielders in Liga MX. Relentlessly tenacious, the Argentine did the work of two players against Pumas. A goal in the 46th minute of the second leg also did plenty to help him deservedly steal the spotlight in the Liguilla.
MF: Diego Lainez, Club America
Lainez is a menacing player. Against Pumas, the 18-year-old Mexican ran circles around the dizzied defenders who struggled to keep up with him. The winger is a star-in-the-making and, after collecting two goals in the semis, he'll be one of the players to keep a close eye on in the finals.
FW: Carlos Gonzalez, Pumas
Gonzalez is the lone member of Pumas' roster in the semifinal best XI. While most of his teammates self-imploded against Club America, the striker fought and battled his way to a commendable finish to his playoff run. The Paraguayan, who was unlucky to exit the semifinal series with only one goal, was a breath of fresh air for Pumas fans.
FW: Milton Caraglio, Cruz Azul
From villain to hero. Despite the fact that he failed to convert a penalty in the 36th minute of the second leg against Monterrey, the 30-year-old Argentine pounced on a rebounded shot in the second half which gifted Cruz Azul a 1-0 win and a place in the finals.
Bench: Jesus Corona (Cruz Azul), Jorge Sanchez (Club America), Igor Lichnovsky (Cruz Azul), Rodolfo Pizarro (Monterrey), Paul Aguilar (Club America), Dorlan Pabon (Monterrey), Roger Martinez (Club America).