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Both Liga MX teams will be heading into Week 8 of the 2021 Apertura with just one loss in their first seven games.
Leon, who are sitting at 2nd in the league table after Week 7’s results have had a six-match undefeated run under new manager Ariel Holan.
As for Tigres, they are currently on an undefeated run in Liga MX play as well through five games without a defeat.
Like Leon, Tigres are also under new leadership after Miguel Herrera took charge this summer.
There’s little between these two sides, but what may ultimately make the difference is the role that the international window has when it comes to available players.
That, along with home-field advantage, points to a loss for Leon.
Leon should be given credit for what they’ve accomplished in a short time under Holan.
After a championship hangover of sorts that extended through the first half of 2021, they’ve recalibrated themselves in recent months with the hiring of their latest manager.
A one-sided 4-0 loss to start the Apertura has quickly swept away with four wins and two draws in their following matches.
In those six games, they’ve also scored 11 times as they quickly shot up the league table.
It’s a promising start to the tenure of Holan, but unfortunately for the head coach, he’ll now suddenly have to either bench or give limited time to some key players.
At time of writing before the end of the week, Leon starters like William Tesillo, Angel Mena, and Jean Meneses will be available for their national teams during Thursday’s World Cup qualifiers.
And even if they don’t play, it’ll be an incredibly quick turnaround for the South American players who would then need to be counted on for Leon just two days later.
These aren’t just typical players within the squad either.
Tesillo has been Leon’s top defender so far this season and has also provided two goals. Mena has three goals and an assist to his name. Meneses has played in every game this season.
Likely without them in the XI and up against Tigres, one can make the argument that this will be Holan’s most difficult test of his short tenure with the club so far.
No longer injured and no longer involved in the Olympics with France’s international team, Tigres’ Andre-Pierre Gignac is now ready to be his club’s leading frontman once again.
Although he’s now 35, the striker remains as the most talented player in Liga MX and an absolute game-changer for Tigres.
With Herrera now in charge, he should also be inspired to show off to his new coach.
Gignac rarely struggles for long periods of time, and with 120+ goals for Tigres since 2015, it’s almost a given that he’ll find the back of the net whenever he steps onto the field.
Along with Tesillo’s anticipated absence from the backline, Leon’s defense may not be as reliable as it should be for a recent champion.
When looking at xGA (expected goals against) numbers from Wyscout, Leon have the sixth-worst tally with 9.44, which is worse than the league average of 8.25.
It must be noted that their first loss can toss these statistics a bit off, but when you look at those numbers, Leon are a bit lucky that they’ve only allowed three goals since their lopsided defeat.
With a tired Tesillo going through international duty, and Tigres’ Gignac likely back in the mix, it could prove to be a long night for Leon’s defense.
|Tigres vs Leon Information|
|Teams||Tigres vs Leon|
|Location||Estadio Universitario (San Nicolas de los Garza, Mexico)|
|Time||Saturday, September 11th at 5:00 pm PT/8:00 pm ET|
|How to Watch||Univision, TUDN|
Freelance writer Cesar Hernandez is a specialist in all things American and Mexican soccer. He has written for ESPN FC, The Athletic, The Guardian, FourFourTwo, VICE Sports and several other publications. Along with writing and previous radio appearances on the BBC, talkSPORT and SiriusXM FC, Cesar is also a member of the Mexican Soccer Show podcast. Email: [email protected]More info on Cesar Hernandez
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