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Liga MX Clausura Semifinals: Tigres triumph over Rayados, América bow out to the league leaders

Leon v America - Playoffs Torneo Clausura 2019 Liga MX Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images

Here are your five conclusions from the Semifinals of the 2019 Liga MX Clausura Liguilla.

Tigres are back to another Liga MX Final

Like in the Quarterfinals, Tigres struggled but ultimately prevailed, as Ricardo “Tuca” Ferretti’s side advanced over rivals Monterrey to the Final of the 2019 Liga MX Clausura.

It hasn’t been a great Liguilla for Los Felinos. Here, they came into second leg down in the scoreline and thoroughly outplayed before a heroic header from Guido Pizarro changed the course of the series.

Tigres have been tactically underwhelming, there is no denying that. In fact, it is arguable they haven’t lived up to playing expectations through the course of the last few season, But as the saying goes, “it doesn’t matter how you get there, as long as you make it”, and evidently, “Tuca” Ferretti seems to have found the formula for making Liga MX Finals. In total, this will be Tigres’s sixth Liga MX Final in the last five years, and that’s something you can’t argue against.

Nahuel Guzman once again the hero

Perhaps no goalkeeper in Mexico has experienced the highs and lows of goalkeeping more than Nahuel Guzman. The Tigres goalkeeper is heralded as one of the best in Liga MX, but he is no stranger to the occasional howler. In this Liguilla, Guzman has been sensational. Against Pachuca, he was arguably the best player in the series, and in these Semifinals against Monterrey, he was once again the key figure.

Many will point out Monterrey’s idling play in the first half of the second leg as the reason why the Rayados won’t be making the Liga MX Final, but more than anything, it was Guzman’s presence that took all the energy out of a possible Monterrey winner. Like Agustin Marchesin with Club América last season, Guzman is showing just how crucial it is to have a top goalkeeper in these late stages of the tournament. It could mean all the difference between having the chance to win the league title or not.

Club América’s season ends at the hands of León

It wasn’t to be for the defending champions. On Sunday, Las Águilas failed to overcome a 1-0 deficit and were knocked out of the Semifinals stage by Club León.

To say Club América’s season was a failure would be a gross exaggeration. Sure, a team like Club América has to always be fighting for the league title, but against León they were just simply outmatched by the better team. If anything, Club América fans can be proud of the fight their team showed, pushing the league leaders to the brink and coming within one goal of taking them down in their own home ground..

As ever, there will be a period of reflection for Las Águilas, but for the most part, there are plenty of positives to take if you are Miguel Herrera. Inconsistency was probably the team’s biggest issue, coupled with Nico Castillo’s sudden inability to score in big games. But overall, you have to think América will once again be in the picture as one of the favorites for the 2019 Apertura.

You have to give credit to Ignacio Ambriz

For all the criticism he has received throughout his career, there is perhaps nobody more deserving of this moment than León coach Ignacio Ambriz. Say what you want about Ambriz, but he has his team just two games away from possibly lifting the Liga MX title.

Ambriz, who previously coached América, was never taken too seriously in his time with Las Águilas, which is why this moment would have undoubtedly been extra sweet. Ambriz has already won a Copa MX title and a CONCACAF Champions League title, so a Liga MX title is really the only thing left for him to win.

In way, it is almost symbolic that his final test is against none other Ricardo “Tuca” Ferretti, without question the best Liga MX coach in recent times.

A final with two teams in very different moments

So it comes down to the two top-seeded teams in the regular season, but two teams that arrive in two very different moments. León have been an absolute juggernaut, while Tigres have slowed down considerably in the latter part of the season. Usually, these things tend to matter very little when it comes to finals, but at least on paper, you have to like León’s chances over Tigres’s. That said, there is going to be plenty of storylines on this one, and another Liga MX final that is undoubtedly going to be fun to watch.