Game: Club de Fútbol Tigres de la Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León vs. Club Santos Laguna S.A. de C.V.
Date: Sunday, July 15th
Time: 9:00 p.m. Eastern, 8:00 p.m. Central, 6:00 p.m. Pacific, 1:00 a.m. UTC
Venue: StubHub Center (Carson, Calif.)
Referees: REF: Fernando Guerrero Ramírez, AR1: Alberto Morin Méndez, AR2: Andres Hernández Delgado, 4TH: Marco Antonio Ortiz Nava
Whether you hold the Campeon de Campeones up as one of Mexican soccer’s highest honors, with the two Liguilla winners facing off against one another in an epic clash, or a cynical cash grab to milk the popularity of soccer’s popularity boom in the United States, tomorrow’s match signifies that thankfully Liga MX is right around the corner. It’s been almost two months since Santos Laguna lifted the trophy, and while the World Cup was fun until Mexico lost and there have been preseason games to tide us over, it’s finally time to get back to action.
Tigres comes in the same as they ever were. Tuca Ferretti’s men will look to play quick, short passes off of the counter with André-Pierre Gignac or Enner Valencia getting on the end of things and putting the ball on net. Tigres won the 2017 Apertura with this formula, downing a Monterrey team that had steamrolled everyone prior to the Final. That team is largely unchanged but it seemed to have lost a step in the Clausura, losing to Santos in the first round due to being the lower seed. The only moves during the offseason was bringing back Guido Pizarro from Sevilla and Julián Quiñones, who had been on loan with Lobos BUAP.
They’ll be facing off against Santos Laguna, who have seen some big departures in the past two months. Central defenders Néstor Araujo and captain Carlos Izquierdoz were sent to La Liga’s Celta de Vigo and Argentine giants Boca Juniors respectively, while Djaniny Tavares was sent to Al-Ahli of Saudi Arabia. Losing your captain and the league’s leading scorer is a lot, however both players missed time last season and neither man’s absence totally derailed the team. Araujo was replaced by Gerardo Alcoba when he went down injured, while a lengthy injury to Djaniny saw Jonathan Rodríguez pair with Julio Furch up top with Edwin Cetré coming in for relief. Santos also brought in center back Hugo Nervo from Huracán as well as having Carlos Orrantia brought back from a loan spell with América.
It will be good to see these teams face off against one another, getting reps in before the Apertura starts in earnest. The winner will face MLS Cup winners Toronto FC at BMO Field in Canada in September for the first Campeones Cup.