The first leg of the Liga MX final has come and gone and the results were surprising to say the least. Chivas went into el Volcan and managed a 2-2 draw when everyone had counted them out. If you were to look purely at the stat line, this comes across as a great result for Chivas. A look deeper shows that this is a very deceptive score line heading into Sunday night’s game in Estadio Chivas.
Chivas had a 2-0 lead up until the 83rd minute and then Gignac happened. In a matter of minutes, the Frenchmen put the whole city of Monterrey on his back and brought Tigres back with a brace that put Chivas on notice heading into the second leg.
When Tigres defeated Tijuana and it was announced that they would host the first leg, many expected for them to have a convincing victory over Chivas. Unfortunately for them and their fans, games are played on the field and not on paper. Matias Almeyda engineered a game plan that for about 75 minutes completely disrupted the Tigres attack. Chivas went out and man marked every player that Tigres fielded, suffocating them as soon as they received the ball. Along the way, Alan Pulido and Rodolfo Pizarro capitalized on two Nahuel Guzman mistakes and put El Rebaño ahead before the first half ended.
While many could say Almeyda put together a perfect game plan before the game started, Tuca Ferretti’s in game adjustments completely outmatched what Almeyda had done. The substitutions Tuca made not only disrupted the Almeyda game plan, but they forced him to make substitutions that troubled a very organized team. Whereas all the substitutions for Tuca worked, for Almeyda none were beneficial and it speaks volumes to the depth of the Tigres team.
Heading into the last leg there are many questions for both coaches that we won’t know answers to until the match starts. In the first leg Chivas allowed Tigres to have the possession, which normally isn’t their strongest aspect. Tigres is a team full of speed with a very strong backline and they will gladly give you the ball so that they can counter you.
One question is, will Almeyda have his team sit back and give Tigres the ball again, this tactic worked in the first game and could work again. On the other hand, Chivas is obligated to attack and push forward in the second leg, being that they are the home team. Will Matias Almeyda do this knowing that pushing forward cost them the lead Thursday night? Tuca for his part will have likely learned his lesson from the last match and once again will make the adjustments based on what Almeyda puts forth on the field.
The second leg, being a winner takes all, it is surely to be as exciting if not more as the first leg. With both managers playing a calculated game of chess, expect Almeyda and Ferritti to try to outduel the other. While we certainly don’t know what either manager will do, one thing is certain Sunday night, anything can happen.
Date: Saturday, May 28
Time: 4:00 PM Pacific, 6:00 PM Central, 7:00 PM Eastern
Venue: Estadio Chivas, Guadalajara, Mexico
Television: Univision Deportes (US-Spanish), Univision (US-Spanish), SKY Planeta Fútbol (Mexico), TDN (Mexico), Sky HD (Mexico), UnivisionTDN (Mexico), Claro Sports (Mexico)