Here your five conclusions from the Final of the 2017 Liga MX Apertura.
Tigres continue to write history
Shortly after Tigres clinched their sixth league title in club history, the one question that kept popping up during Univision’s telecast was, “Is Tigres a big team now?”. You can debate that all you want, but one thing is for certain, Tigres is the most dominant Liga MX team of the last few years.
If there was any uncertainty about it, winning a league title in your biggest rival’s backyard should leave absolutely no doubt. Akin to a dynasty in the NBA or NFL, Tigres have reached a level of consistency that has not been seen since the Toluca of the late 90s. Oh, they also have in their ranks the most celebrated Liga MX player of the last few years, Andre-Pierre Gignac.
La U, La U, indeed.
Another final lost for Monterrey
Talk about heartbreak. More than a year ago, Monterrey lost the Liga MX final in stunning fashion, as a last minute goal by Victor Guzman gave Pachuca the title at the Estadio BBVA Bancomer.
But this defeat, this one will be felt for years to come. It is not just because this was the first Clasico Regio final, but because you get the feeling that Monterrey put all their chips on the table for this season and still failed. Everybody from the club board to the fanbase has to be asking themselves what else they need to do to win the title. This can be especially frustrating, and the biggest challenge for Monterrey now is how they will respond next season. For now, this one is going to sting. It is going to sting for a while.
Aviles Hurtado goes missing
There wasn’t a more important player across the 2017 Liga MX Apertura than Monterrey forward Aviles Hurtado. The problem, however, is that he went completely missing during the Liga MX Final. Clearly, Aviles Hurtado wasn’t at 100% physically after picking up an injury during the Quarterfinals.
What then a lot of people are asking themselves is why he is the one that took the penalty in the second leg. If it was so obvious that he wasn’t playing at full health, why give him the added pressure of scoring the game-tieing penalty?
Not to discount Aviles Hurtado’s season, but it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. You can’t imagine a more nightmarish end to the season to a player that deserved so much more.
Love him or hate him, Nahuel Guzman does it again
Say what you want about Nahuel Guzman, the guy knows how to be a key factor in all of Tigres’ recent league titles. Where Hugo Gonzalez let his team down, failing to stop what seemed to be an accessible shot by Eduardo Vargas’ in the 30th minute, Nahuel Guzman excelled. His best moment came in the 55th minute when Guzman made a superb save with his leg to keep Luis Fuentes from scoring a short-range effort.
Guzman is not just excellent with his feet and a great shot-stopper, he knows how to get into the opponent’s head. That’s what makes him such a polarizing character. He is one of those players that if maybe they didn’t have that little devil in them they wouldn’t be as good. It’s something you really can't measure with statistics or take into account tactically, and it is what makes him such a special player.
Yes, the better team won
At the end of the day, there is no denying the better team won. This match was billed to be a lot of things, but few talked about the contrasts in style both teams presented. On one side you had Antonio “Turco” Mohamed and his preference to a play more direct style of play. On the other hand you had a more possession based team in Ricardo “Tuca” Ferretti’s Tigres.
Ultimately, the difference was Ferretti took complete advantage of Monterrey’s 4-3-2-1 formation. Monterrey’s lack of wing presence in the first leg meant that Tigres had plenty of space to find Enner Valencia on the right. In the second leg it was “Chaka” Rodriguez who found himself with a clear avenue to attack.
In essence, for the exception of the first two minutes of the second leg, Monterrey’s attempt to dominate the match without the ball proved useless. Tactically, Tigres wanted it more, and found ways to expose Rayados.
Of course, a lot of credit has to go to Tuca. Not just for this game, but the way he has executed this whole project. Tuca will go down as one of the best, if not the best, manager to ever graze Liga MX. When it is all said and done, Tigres should build a statue for him right outside their stadium. Quite simply a legend.