It’s almost time for the biggest game of 2017 thus far, the opening leg of the 2016-17 CONCACAF Champions League final. It’s yet another all Liga MX affair, with our own Tigres taking on Pachuca. A place at the 2017 Club World Cup is on the line, as well as the title of best team in North America. Tigres fell at the final hurdle a year ago, but this time around enter as one of the hottest teams in the region and bring added finals experience with them.
When and Where
The first leg will played at El Volcán, on April 18, at 9PM local time. The match will be televised on Univision Deportes in the US, and Fox Sports Mexico in Mexico.
Head to Head
Pachuca and Tigres have met one other time during 2017; back on February 11, Pachuca squeezed out a 1-0 win at home. Tigres won the most recent match at Estadio Universitario 4-2, back during the Apertura regular season. Tigres enter with impressive form: WWDWL (most recent first), and have won their latest two matches by a combined score of 7-0. Pachuca, on the other hand, have managed only DDLWD in their last five games, and have been shut out three times in a row. Even if you look only at CCL play, Tigres are still the hotter team. While Pachuca required a last minute winner in the second leg to send them into the finals, Tigres comfortably advanced 4-1 on aggregate, and absolutely dominated Vancouver at El Volcán.
Players to Watch
There’s no shortage of star power in either lineup, but the players to really keep an eye on will be Andre-Pierre Gignac for Tigres and Hirving Lozano for Pachuca. We all know what you get with Gignac, and are familiar with his pedigree in big games. No doubt he will cause a lot of problems for Los Tuzos. Lozano is a player that Tigres will need to watch out for; “Chucky” leads the CCL with 8 goals, including the two late strikes against FC Dallas in the semifinals. Both goalies also bring some intrigue to the match; El Conejo may be past his prime but is a living legend at this point, and brings valuable experience to the table. Our own Nahuel Guzman on the other hand provides superior athletic ability but is known to make boneheaded mistakes on occasion.
Expect Tigres to put everything they have into this game, even though the playoff push is alive and well. It will be a packed house (as always) at Estadio Universitario, and I think Tigres will emerge narrow victors, 1-0, thanks to a goal from the rejuvenated Andre-Pierre Gignac.
(Photo Courtesy of @SomosTigres)