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Tigres play at home in the first-leg of their semifinal tie with Monterrey. Monterrey, who ended the league season in first place with 40 points, go into this fixture as the favorites over the two legs, but things are a bit tighter in the first-leg as Tigres are the home side.
Both teams didn’t have the most straightforward routes to the semifinals. Monterrey were expected to make easy work of Santos Laguna, but it was nothing like that. Tigres, on the other hand, had won their first leg against Toluca 4-1, so were expected to cruise to the semifinals but were nearly knocked out as Toluca beat them 3-1 in the second leg.
Monterrey will most likely be too intense for this Tigres team that’s past its prime over the two legs but have to settle for a draw in the first leg.
Tigres have a superior head-to-head record, so they have no reason to fear the league leaders. They’ve won 12, lost eight, and drawn nine of their 29 matches against Monterrey. However, Monterrey have got the better of them in some important matches recently.
The two sides met in the CONCACAF Champions League final in 2019, which Monterrey won 2-1 over two legs. The first match ended 1-0 to Monterrey and was ultimately decisive. When the two sides last met in the league in March this year, Monterrey won by the same scoreline. Luis Romo’s 68th-minute goal was the difference between the two sides.
The most crucial factor from that game heading into this tie is that Monterrey were the away team. It clearly shows that they can get a result against Tigres under difficult circumstances, which is the task in the upcoming match.
Tigres survived by the skin of their teeth against Toluca in the second leg of their quarterfinal tie to enter the semifinals of the 2022-23 Liga MX Clausura season. It looked like they were through to the next round after winning 4-1 in the first-leg, but Toluca had other ideas and nearly knocked Tigres out of the competition.
Toluca played a perfect first half with goals from Edgar Ivan Lopez (26’) and Marcel Ruiz (45+3’), giving them a 2-0 lead heading into half-time. Lopez got his second of the day in the 53rd minute – at this point, Toluca were in the driving seat, as they have the away goal.
However, Sebastian Cordova came up with the goods when they needed it by scoring Tigres’ only goal of the match in the 71st minute. Tigres were now 5-4 up on aggregate and went to keep it 5-4 before the final whistle to qualify for the semifinals.
This tie was always going to go down to the wire, so Tigres deserve a lot of credit for going through somehow. Toluca were runners-up last year and ended the league season in fourth place, so knocking them out of the competition is no ordinary achievement.
Tigres UANL got knocked out of the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals a little over a week ago after losing to Leon over two legs but have shown great character to put that to the side and beat a strong side like Toluca in the quarterfinals of the Liga MX Clausura playoffs this season.
Getting this far into competitions is an achievement in itself, but Tigres are a team capable of going one step further and winning these competitions. The upcoming semifinal is a great way to overcome the semifinal loss in the CONCACAF Champions League to fellow Liga MX side Leon.
Monterrey are the strongest team in the competition, but Santos Laguna gave them a scare in the last round. Tigres have one of the league's most robust defenses and Andre-Pierre Gignac up front, so they’re certainly not short of quality.
Monterrey had a bit of a scare in the first-leg of their quarterfinal match against Santos Laguna after the game ended 0-0. Monterrey were expected to cruise through the tie prior to kickoff, but the reality was very different.
Things were much better in the second leg, but it was far from one-sided. Monterrey won 2-0 in the end; Rogelio Funes Mori’s third-minute strike calmed the nerves, and Maximiliano Meza’s 68th-minute strike confirmed the three points.
Santos Laguna took 12 shots to Monterrey’s 11, but many came after Monterrey went 2-0 up. This isn’t surprising as Santos Laguna didn’t have a lot of time to change the game. Ultimately, it was a pretty professional display. Still, Monterrey will have to be a bit better in the semifinals against Tigres if they want to enter the final and win the competition.
The task is quite simple: win the next four matches. Monterrey have undoubtedly been the best team in the league for the last 12 months, but they have to show something for it. They ended the league six points ahead of Club America this season and don’t have the defensive issues that Club America have.
They scored 35 goals and conceded just 14 in the league this season. They are strong in every area and are playing a Tigres side that finished 15 points below them in the league this season – that is a considerable gap. They also beat Tigres quite convincingly when the two sides met.
There are no apparent weaknesses in this side. They should’ve entered the finals last season, but a bit of indiscipline cost them a place in the finals. Unlike some other knockout competitions, the Liga MX are two-legged ties, where one freak result won’t determine the outcome of the tie. They have no excuses this time out.
Manager Victor Manuel Vucetich has to get the job done this time out. He has won Liga MX five times and was brought into the club to get them over the line, but many in the media believe that his best days are done, as he last led a side to silverware in 2016. If winning the league wasn’t enough motivation, proving the doubters wrong should undoubtedly be one.
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With an interest in strategy and mathematics, applying that to sports writing was the natural progression. A writer at night and the founder of a gaming company, Nikhil’s previous experience includes working with ESPN for five years. His specialization includes soccer, basketball, tennis, and esports betting. Email: [email protected]More info on Nikhil Kalro
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