(Photo from MexSport)
Four Liga MX teams remain in this rendition of the Apertura playoffs; and for their semi-final opponent Tigres face none other than Club América, who have become a familiar playoff foe over the past few seasons.
Anything But Smooth Sailing
Neither Tigres or América had a particularly easy time in the first round; in fact both were just a goal away from elimination during their second leg matchups and had to play hard right down to the final whistle. Tigres were perhaps a little better, actually getting a goal in each game, as opposed to América who have yet to score in the liguilla. Both teams advanced thanks to their higher seed, and if it comes to that again Tigres will get to move on.
The Showdown Part IV
2014 Apertura Final, 2016 Champions League Final, 2016 Apertura Final, and now 2017 Apertura semifinal. The teams had of course met before that on numerous occasions, but this is now the 4th major series in very recent memory between these two clubs, who are arguably the top 2 teams of the decade so far. In those previous encounters, Las Aguilas have emerged victorious 2/3 times, though Tigres won the most recent clash. Sure, Tigres aren’t really rivals with América, but these regular high stakes series are becoming a rivalry on their own.
Players to Watch
For Tigres, who else but Andre-Pierre Gignac. Mr. Liguilla is back, and even though the Frenchman had a fairly quiet regular season, he appears to be once again locked in for the playoffs. With one goal in the books last round, APG now has 17 goals in 4+ liguilla campaigns.
For América, let’s show some love to Agustín Marchesín, who was huge in the last series against Cruz Azul. If Gignac and Tigres want to score they need good looks; volume shooting probably won’t get them very far.
Leg one is set to kick off at Estadio Azteca at 10PM Eastern (9PM Local) tonight, while leg two at El Volcan is set for 8PM Eastern (7PM Local) on Saturday. The other series is set for the Thursday-Sunday schedule, meaning Tigres will get an extra day of rest should they advance.
My predictions are usually the kiss of death, but I was actually 4/4 in the first round. As such, I like to think I’ve earned the right to pick again: Tigres edge out the win 4-3 on aggregate. I expect the goals to start pouring in during this series, and I think Gignac will really turn it on this week.