The Liga MX Apertura 2022 final begins tonight as Pachuca visit Toluca for the first leg in the Estadio Nemesio Diez, with kickoff slated at 8:06 pm local time. Considering the football these two teams have displayed over the past couple weeks, this figures to make for a very exciting matchup. Not to mention the fact these two are hungry for a title, with Toluca last winning it all in 2010 and Pachuca 2016. Those are long title absences for these clubs’ expectations.
Throughout these playoffs, Toluca have had the “advantage” of starting every round at home, or at least it’s worked out in their favor until now. In their single-game elimination Repechaje match, they pounced on FC Juárez by a 3-0 final to move on to the QF round. In the QF, they hosted Santos and won the first leg 4-3, allowing them to take a lead into the TSM Corona where they could sit back and wait for their rivals, ultimately allowing them to burn them on counters, and it worked as they took the second leg 1-2.
In the semis, they hosted América in the first leg, and they again escaped with a slim 2-1 lead, but a lead nonetheless. Even if they were forced to hang on for dear life at the end, a win is a win. That allowed them to enter the Azteca with an advantage and again counter attack or wait for a set piece opportunity, and that’s exactly what happened.
In the final, they will again begin the series at home. However, there is one important factor to consider here: Toluca have been utterly dominated by Pachuca in their own stadium over their past three visits. The last time Toluca defeated Tuzos in the Nemesio Diez in a Liga MX match was exactly three years ago, back in October 2019 on Matchday 15 by a final of 2-0. They would defeat them again in February 2020 in the QF round of the Copa MX, but I digress. The point is, it’s been a long time.
Here are their last three matchups in the Nemesio Diez:
- Clausura 2021 (Matchday 11): Toluca 0-2 Pachuca
- Clausura 2022 (Matchday 10): Toluca 0-3 Pachuca
- Apertura 2022 (Matchday 11): Toluca 1-4 Pachuca
In short, Pachuca have outscored Toluca 9-1 in their last three matchups in the Nemesio Diez. With that being said, we know playoff matches always carry with them a different level of intensity than regular season matches, but a precedent is set when a pattern like this exists.
This regular season matchup between them was of course overshadowed by Illian Hernández’s opening score which appeared to rest on the goal line before being cleared by Toluca’s defense. The Ref Guilleramo Pacheco ruled it a goal with no clear view for some reason, and despite a VAR review, the decision was confirmed. Nevertheless, the Diablos Rojos were run over as the game went on and Pachuca still proved to be the overwhelming superior side in their 4-1 victory.
If Toluca wish to be crowned champs, they must end the recent string of results of late between these two. If not, we could have a rather insignificant second leg on Sunday.