It’s been an interesting close to the season for Miguel Herrera and company, that much is for sure. In their final 9 regular season matches, they had about the most up-and-down record you can have in soccer (3W, 3D, 3L). On the upside, all three victories were 2+ goal margins (including Saturday’s 3-0 win over Atlético San Luis). However, the downside is the fact the matches they lost (América, León, and Puebla) are all teams in the playoffs and will likely face at least one of them if they intend to be champs. In fact, Necaxa, the club they’re facing in the Repechaje this Saturday, was a scoreless draw during the aforementioned span, so a lot of uncertainties for Tigres in that sense.
With that being said, there are a couple of reasons to be smiling if you’re a Tigres fan. And those reasons are actually names. I’ll spell ‘em out: André-Pierre Gignac and Nahuel Guzmán.
Gignac on the one hand, had a very good regular season. He finished 3rd in the race for the scoring title with 8 goals. Those 8 goals were scored over a span of seven games. In those seven games in which Gignac scored, Tigres had a record of 5W, 1D, 1L. In other words, when he scores, it pretty much guarantees a positive result for the UANL squad. But more importantly than all of this, he played in all 17 regular season matches, an accomplishment not as commonly seen these days. Putting this together with last season’s numbers, in which he played 16 out of the 17, that gives us the conclusion it’s been a very healthy 2022 for the French striker and his two top notch goals on Saturday confirm his current high level of play, just in time to start a playoff run.
Nahuel Guzmán on the other hand, missed just one match this season, so another regular, along with Gignac, that Tigres need out on the pitch every minute that has also managed to stay healthy. Not only has he been healthy, but he’s been an integral part to Tigres achieving the 2nd best defense (behind Rayados) in the league, allowing just 14 goals. Proof of that was the Chivas match three weeks ago, and a great diving stop on a very tough free kick on Saturday which would’ve given San Luis the lead at the time. The point is, he’s displaying a very high level (just like Gignac) at the best possible time.
Now, this obviously in no way excludes Tigres from an early playoff exit. The fact they were so inconsistent over the second half of the season simply leaves you no option but to keep that alternative on the table, especially going up against a feisty, unpredictable team like Necaxa. However, what Tigres do need if they are to be Apertura 2022 champions is a healthy, high level Gignac and Nahuel on the pitch every single minute. And that’s what they’ve had this season. You couldn’t ask for better timing when it comes to these two reaching peak level. Despite the fact Tigres have other star players such as Córdova, Carioca, etc., it’s Gignac and Nahuel that make this club a true title contender.