Five Points: Liga MX final between Club America and Tigres
The Liga MX Apertura finale is upon us, with Club America — the first-place team in the regular season — playing second-place Tigres on Thursday in the Estadio Universitario and Sunday in the Estadio Azteca.
There isn’t much between the sides, which were level on points in the regular season and separated by just two goals difference.
Here are five pointers for the Liga MX’s showcase event:
America going for No. 12
Las Aguilas could go clear of Chivas’ 11 titles if they take home the Apertura 2014 crown Sunday in what will be a full Estadio Azteca.
The milestone is significant in the rivalry between Mexico’s two most-supported clubs. With Chivas looking a long way from mounting any type of title challenge in the near future, America and its fans are taking it very seriously.
The hashtag “Vamos por la 12” (going for the 12th) is going strong on social media in Mexico and the United States, and Las Aguilas fans will be sure to remind Chivas supporters about their achievement if captain Miguel Layun lifts the trophy.
Tigres’ unbeaten streak
There has been a sense of negativity surrounding Tigres after they managed to squirm their way into the final having not won any of their four playoff games to date.
But the bad press shouldn’t take away from what has been an exceptional run to the final for the Monterrey club. Fourteen matches without tasting defeat is difficult in any league, but more so in the Liga MX than most, considering its parity.
Captain Juninho’s injury is an important blow but seems to have brought the group closer, and Uruguay international Egidio Arevalo will be back after missing the semifinal second leg through suspension.
In all likelihood, if Tigres can extend the run to 16 games, they will be Apertura champions.
A tactical battle of will
Club America and Tigres are pretty even on paper in terms of quality, and the series is likely to be very tactical with few goals.
America coach Antonio Mohamed and Tigres’ Ricardo “Tuca” Ferretti are pragmatists at heart, which will be reflected in the way their teams approach the final. Neither is likely to risk opening up much, and both teams will instead be patient while looking for gaps in the final third, a set piece goal or an error from the opponent.
It’s almost a cliche to state it, but the first goal in the series could be vital — certainly if it comes for America. Going behind would force Tigres onto the front foot and could open up space at the back. It would be a similar situation the other way around, forcing the opposition coach into a change of approach that he might not necessarily be comfortable with.
Two top atmospheres
If you chose the ideal stadiums for a Liga MX final, opening at the Estadio Universitario and closing in the Estadio Azteca would probably be the first choice.
Tigres fans deserve this after filling, once again, their 42,000-capacity stadium for every home game of the regular season. The atmosphere will be special Thursday, and tickets sold out Tuesday — even before they went on sale to the general public.
Flights from Monterrey to Mexico City for Sunday’s final shot up in price immediately after Tigres confirmed their spot in the final and, combined with the hordes of America fans in attendance, the temple that is the 100,000-capacity Estadio Azteca is a perfect backdrop for the final Liga MX game of 2014.
Don’t believe America’s dressing room is completely broken
Mohamed may well be on his way out of Club America and Paul Aguilar is currently sidelined, but the side is in its third final in the last four tournaments. With only two matches left of the season, any animosity that exists will be put aside in the chase for the 12th title.
Layun’s sarcastic tweet neatly summed it up: "How did we reach the final? Fighting and with a split camp! Have a great day!"
The Mexico international also said the rumors and situation at America “makes me laugh” during Tuesday’s news conference.
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