León First Up in Tigres’ Quest for 3rd Straight Apertura

(Photo Courtesy of MexSport)

The final Jornada of Liga MX played out over the weekend, and when the dust settled, Tigres ended up matched against León in the first round of the liguilla. Tigres fell 2-0 to Rayados in their efforts to snatch the #1 overall seed, while León lost 2-0 at home to Chivas.

This is the first step of Tigres’ playoff campaign for their 3rd straight Apertura title. A little stat for you: We are 6-0 in Apertura playoff series since the arrival of Gignac. Here are some notes about the upcoming first round series with León:

Recent History

Tigres encountered La Fiera during last year’s Apertura playoffs, defeating them 3-1 in a tough series en route to the title. During the regular season match-up this year, Los Felinos fell 1-0 at Estadio León, though the game was scoreless through 80 minutes and Tigres were in control for most of the match.

León’s Dangerous Duo

That lone goal in the 80th minute of the regular season clash was scored by Elías Hernandez; one half of La Fiera’s terrifying duo, the other being Mauro Boselli. These two combined for 17 goals during the regular season, and set up at least a half dozen more. Simply put, if Tigres stop these guys, they win the series. Not exactly an easy task, but at least we know exactly what to do. I expect these two to get bullied bigtime at El Volcan during the 2nd leg.

Key Players for Tigres

Tigres have their own set of stars of course. Enner Valencia scored 9 goals during the season, and Andre-Pierre Gignac has always been a beast in the playoffs during his time at Tigres. Edu Vargas has turned it up this season, and Javier Aquino is a constant threat to score from seemingly anywhere on the pitch. Tigres have lots weapons, and almost all of them have playoff experience. Perhaps none of them quite had the season that Elías Hernandez did, but we’ve just got so many threats up front, it’s hard to imagine León stopping them over 180 minutes.

Ice Cold vs…Kinda Hot

Let’s be clear: León have not been playing well the last few weeks, with losses to Chivas and Tijuana, who both missed the playoffs. Tigres were riding high but the Clásico Regio loss certainly sucked some of the momentum out of this team, and I can’t say I have the same confidence about the liguilla that I did a week ago. That lack of confidence, however, is because of Rayados (unfortunately), and not because of León.

Prediction

Now all that said, Tigres are better than León and should win this series; we’ve proven ourselves over the last few years to be a tough out during knockout competition, and I don’t think León are up to the test. I’ll take Tigres 3-1 on aggregate, just like last time. An evenly matched first leg, but Tigres take over at home.

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