Stalemate at the Azteca as Club America and Tigres leave everything to play for in the Liga MX final second leg.
Here are my three quick takeaways from America’s 1-1 draw with Tigres:
Andre-Pierre Gignac injury
Tigres’ 1-1 draw at the Estadio Azteca did not come easily. Tigres, as they have done for the past year, looked to Andre-Pierre Gignac to provide a moment of magic. That moment came and came late in the first half when he broke free down the left before nutmegging Moises Munoz to fire the visitors into the lead.
But the tide of the match, perhaps even of the tie, turned when Gignac went down to through injury in the 75th minute. The initial prognosis is he will be doubtful for Sunday’s return leg. Obviously this would be a major blow for the Universitarios. It has been said over and over again that Gignac is arguably one of the top three players in the league. If Gignac were to miss the second leg, Tigres quest for a fifth title only gets more complicated.
Experimenting didn’t work for either coach
Having watched Edson Alvarez develop in recent weeks, dumping the 19-year-old for Jose Daniel “Chepe” Guerrero always looked like a questionable decision for coach Ricardo La Volpe. For the most part, Alvarez has looked focus and controlled in the “sweeper” position, and here, Chepe didn’t make much of a case for himself, exiting the match at halftime. Even with America’s five-man backline, Chepe still had problems seizing touches on the ball and helping out his fellow defenders when his team lost the ball.
On the other hand, Ricardo “Tuca” Ferretti opted for a central midfield of Guido Pizarro and Lucas Zelarayan, who replaced the more defensive minded Jesus Duenas. However, Zelarayan brought little in the way of improving Tigres’ attack. Unsurprisingly, he too was substituted off in the second half.
One of the advantages of being blessed with depth in your team is you can take the luxury of experimenting and making changes like the ones listed above. The problem, though, is they might also not work out. At least La Volpe and Tuca have two days to think about what changes to make next.
Everything to play for at the Estadio Universitario
All things considered, it was a decent performance from Club America. When we talk about Las Aguilas, there is an old adage in Spanish used to explain why they always seem to find ways to fight for trophies: “ La camiseta pesa.” America wasn’t exactly great, but as ever, the azulcremas found a way to level the score and slightly outplay Tigres.
Unfortunately for La Volpe, it might not be enough. Sunday will require something special from America if they want to come out of the Estadio Universitario as champions.
Of course, the wild factor here is Andre-Pierre Gignac’s health. Like America, Tigres will need an improved performance on Sunday, but the question here will be the status of the French forward. Nobody is saying Tigres is a one-man team, but without Gignac, the Universitarios lose an extraordinary player.
That said, both teams can make an argument as to why they deserve to be champions on Sunday.