After what was clearly their worst showing of the season thus far last Saturday, Tigres were rightfully handed their first defeat of the Clausura 2023, leaving América as the only remaining undefeated club. An ugly first half with no true approaches on goal and a 0-2 halftime deficit in the Universitario is something that fans certainly aren’t used to in San Nicolás de los Garza. A late reaction coupled with a retreating Chivas (as usual under Veljko Paunović) who love to put themselves in that position with a lead, nearly allowed for the equalizer, but it wasn’t enough.
And the media have certainly seized the moment. Since the loss, reports have surfaced that ‘Chima’ Ruiz has allegedly lost part of the locker room and isn’t putting the hammer down the way he should with certain decisions, so to speak. What a single loss will do for a club when the media are really looking to make news, huh? Even ‘Tata’ Martino is now potentially part of the equation. Where he came from is simply baffling. But I won’t expand on that until there’s more proof.
Now, I’m not denying ‘Chima’ is having issues with his squad. We don’t know what’s really going on, but it’s honestly too soon to know. In their previous three matches prior to the Chivas match, they had played more than well enough, not to mention the good run of results they were on under the Mexican head coach. And let’s not forget he’s also had to deal with the absence of Gignac, his key player.
Speaking of which, Gignac is reportedly ready to play tomorrow, but the fact the club begin their CONCACAF Champions League campaign on Tuesday against Orlando City, the coaching staff are saving him for that, just to be safe. He didn’t even make the trip today with his teammates. Another important fact to keep in mind is that following the midweek clash with Orlando, Tigres will host América next weekend, then travel to Orlando for the second leg just 4 days later, and finally return to Monterrey just 3 days after to play the Clásico Regio. So yeah, it’s obviously a better plan to have the French star at 100% for this tough stretch. Therefore, it’s probably best they don’t risk him tomorrow in what is already a very winnable game.
That being said, Tigres now look to rebound and prove critics wrong as they head to Aguascalientes to face an irregular Necaxa squad tomorrow night who are coming off a bad result themselves in a 1-1 draw at home with the league’s worst team, Querétaro. In fact, they were just inches away from allowing Gallos to break their 50-game road winless streak if not for a horrible mishap in front of goal from striker Álvaro Verda. Luckily for Necaxa, Gallos’ streak is now up to 51.
A subpar defense at best, Necaxa have allowed a whopping 146 attempted shots to rivals, along with 14 goals conceded, right in the middle of the pack. So, considering Tigres’ elite and potent offense (even in the absence of Gignac), they should be able to pierce Hugo González’s goal two or three times, especially with a performance like the one they showed against Querétaro. Just to put things into perspective, Tigres (the league’s best defense) have allowed about a third less attempts (97) and have conceded a league-best 6 goals.
If anything could help Lillini’s squad in this one, it’s the fact they’ve been a tough play at home. Their 8 points on the season have all been obtained in the Victoria, while they’ve lost all 4 matches away. On the other hand, Tigres have been near perfect on the road all season, obtaining 10 out of a possible 12 points away from the Universitario. Interesting to see which of these two strengths will prevail.
One more interesting stat is their head-to-head matchups. It’s such a lopsided affair between these two that it makes it almost impossible to even believe a score could go Necaxa’s way. Get this; Necaxa have won just 1 out their 11 previous meetings (5 Tigres wins, 5 draws). Just no way I see a result favoring Necaxa tomorrow night. ‘Chima’ should get his team back on track as they head into a bumpy stretch of matches.
Necaxa 0-2 Tigres
MATCHUP: Necaxa vs. Tigres
DATE: Friday, March 3, 2023
TIME: 5:05 pm PT | 7:05pm CT | 8:05 pm ET
VENUE: Estadio Victoria | Aguascalientes, AGS
TV: US - TUDN USA, VIX+, FuboTV (free trial) | Mexico - Afizzionados (IZZI)