Match: Club Pachuca vs. Tigres UANL
Date: Saturday, September 15th
Time: 8:00 PM Eastern, 7:00 PM Central, 5:00 PM Pacific, 1:00 AM UTC
Venue: Estadio Hidalgo (Pachuca, Hidalgo)
Tigres return to Liga MX action with a trip to Pachuca to take on los Tuzos after an international break that saw head coach Tuca Ferretti take the reigns of the Mexican National Team in friendlies against Uruguay and the United States.
Los Felinos will be hoping to build on the back of their last two matches before the international break - a 1-0 road victory against Ascenso MX side Cafetaleros de Tapachula in the Copa MX and a dominant 3-1 victory over Atlas at “El Volcán.” In both matches, it was strong team performances and excellent execution of set piece opportunities that propelled Tigres to victory.
Tigres will need more than just set piece execution if they are going to defeat Pachuca away from home. Los Tuzos have slowly been improving on a rough start to the season thanks to the play of Franco Jara who scored two goals in a 3-1 victory over Chivas in their last Liga MX match before the international break. On the season, Jara has three goals and an assist. Victor Guzman has also played well for los Tuzos scoring three goals and adding two assists through seven matches.
Just before the international break, Pachuca decided to sell young Mexican starlet Erick Gutierrez to PSV Eindhoven. Gutierrez will be linking up with longtime friend and former Pachuca teammate Hirving “Chucky” Lozano with the Dutch giants. While the move is sure to help Gutierrez further his career and grow as a professional, it is going to be difficult for los Tuzos to replace a player of his quality. Through his first six matches of the 2018 Apertura, Gutierrez was the third leading scorer for Pachuca with two goals.
Former Premier League champion and recent signing Leonardo Ulloa will be expected to take an increasingly important role in the attack for Pachuca with the departure of Gutierrez. Ulloa has had some time to settle in with his new squad and should be ready to make an impact on the pitch.
On paper, there is absolutely no doubt that Tigres should be able to take all three points from this match. However, fútbol isn’t won on paper and Pachuca is a much more difficult opponent than either Cafetaleros de Tapachula or Atlas.
Tigres will have to figure out a way to get their star-studded attack firing on all cylinders if they want to take anything from Pachuca. Being more efficient with possession, instead of aimlessly passing between the midfield and backline, would be an easy way to improve from the offensive side of the ball. Unfortunately, this has been a problem for Tigres all season.
Pachuca, on the other hand, will need to find a way to contain that star-studded attack of Tigres to take anything out of this match. A high defensive press that closes off passing lanes in the midfield would be a great way to disrupt Tigres and prevent them from being more efficient with their possession. Couple this with some affective counter attacking and los Tuzos might just be able to best the visitors and take all three points from the match.