Tuca Ferretti’s men limber up for the first leg of the quarter-final against Santos Laguna tonight in a clash between the liguilla’s fourth and fifth seed.
Tigres might not have enjoyed the greatest regular season, but after reaching the final in the last three campaigns, they remain the team to beat in many people’s eyes.
Can the Nuevo Leon club win its seventh championship? Only time will tell. But all the evidence suggests Gignac and co. should be able to dispatch Santos over the two legs.
Here are three reasons why Tuca’s men will emerge victorious from the quarter-final tie:
1. Santos’ Faltering Defence
Tigres come into the liguilla after conceding just 16 goals all season. While Santos aren’t that much further up the road, giving up 20, it’s the recent form which gives the Torreon side cause for concern.
Of the 20 goals that Siboldi’s men allowed, nine of them came in the final five games of the season. The drop-off coincided perfectly with Nestor Araujo’s injury. During his absence, Santos has shipped three against both Atlas and Pachuca, and a pair at home to Pumas.
Tigres in #ligamxeng during the Gignac era:
Mr Liguilla. pic.twitter.com/agKDz7dXgV
— Tom Harrison (@tomh_36) December 12, 2017
2. Mr. Liguilla
Gignac is now Tigres’ second top scorer of all time. Impressive enough, but it’s his form in the latter stages of knockout competition which makes him invaluable to Ferretti.
The former French international has hit the net 18 times in his 24 Liguilla appearances. In the five liguillas since he joined, Tigres has won three titles and finished as runner-up once.
3. Experienced Heads
Gignac’s goalscoring feats have helped his club to consistently progress to the latter stages of any competition it participates in.
In addition to the liguilla, it’s easy to forget the same group of players has also been involved in two CONCACAF Champions League finals and a Copa Libertadores final since the 32-year-old signed.
In contrast, Santos has played in just two liguillas since winning the title in 2015, losing in the quarter-final both times. And of the team that beat Queretaro 5-0 in the first leg of that final, only Djaniny, Izquierdoz, and Abella played in the 1-0 loss to America on the final day of the Clausura.