Tigres vs Chivas – Saturday, September 30 4 pm PT / 7 pm ET – Estadio Universitario, Monterrey, Mexico.
On Saturday evening in Monterrey, two of the superpowers of Mexican futbol will come face to face. Tigres UNAL with their star-studded lineup host one of Mexico’s most popular and successful sides, Club Deportivo Guadalajara, better known as Chivas. Also adding to the spectacle is that the latter are currently the reigning Champions after beating Tigres over two legs in the 2017 Clausura final.
Tigres are having an Apertura that most would have predicted with them sitting in fourth after nine games and have one game in hand after their game against Atlas was suspended two weeks ago. With handsome investments in the transfer window over the last few years and the experience of coach Ricardo ‘Tuca’ Ferretti Tigres have been ever present in the later stages of the Liguilla and this year will probably be no different.
With nine games completed, they have won four, drew four, lost only one and become the highest scoring side due to the impressive attacking options the squad bolster including André-Pierre Gignac, Enner Valencia, Eduardo Vargas, Ismael Sosa, Jürgen Damm, Javier Aquino and Lucas Zelarayan. Most Liga MX sides would be happy with one of these talents. Recently Tuca has done his best to even out his top-heavy team by adding defensive midfielder Rafael Carioca and centre back Timothée Kolodziejczak.
The balance seemed to work more positively against Tijuana as they won away 1-0. Though most would label this game as an incredibly dull affair, Tuca will be delighted with an away win against a Xolos side that have gained momentum in the previous matchdays. As any successful side will tell you, win at home and try not to lose away—this ethos appears to be working for Tigres.
Matias Almeyda put himself in the record books last May by taking Chivas to their 12th Championship win and equalling rivals Club América. This was their first Liguilla title since the Apertura 2006 and was made even more impressive due to their Copa MX title a feat no other club had accomplished since Cruz Azul in 1997. Four months later and things are very different for The Goats.
Currently sat in ninth place with only one win in ten, it has been a difficult time for Almeyda and his side. Their failure to turn draws into victories some have suggest is due to the lack of replacement for Néstor Calderón and Miguel Ponce. Also, the demands on the squad from the Mexican international call-ups over the summer meant little rest for some players.
Last season Chivas played a possession-based style of futbol and were an efficient unit in defence and attack. This season while passing accuracy has been amongst the best in the league the rate at which they are dispossessed and win duels is amongst the worst. This results in their opponents being handed plenty of opportunities to score past them. Playing against Tigres with their powerful attack they will be punished if they repeat these failings. One thing they may be grateful for is that the match is away from home as they have yet to win in Guadalajara since the Clausura final in May.
Tigres vs Chivas – Players to Watch:
Eduardo Vargas #17 – Tigres
Back in July on the Golazo Podcast, we were asked to select players to keep an eye on this coming season, and we all agreed that if Eduardo Vargas could finally find his feet he could turn into something special for Tigres and this appears to have happened. The Chilean has got four goals and four assists in eight starts including the winner midweek against Xolos. Vargas has arguably been the player of the Apertura so far. He will be rubbing his hands together at a chance to run at the Chivas defence on Saturday night.
Rodolfo Pizarro #20 – Chivas
At the last international break, some were surprised about the exclusion of Rodolfo Pizarro from the Mexico squad due to the golazo’s he had been putting away—but when inspected closer stats revealed he had been dispossessed more than any other player in the league and by someway. These aside, it is hard to look past the 23-year-old as he currently has the most goals and assists for his side. Tigres will look to put pressure on him because if they can stop him, Chivas will struggle to create goal scoring opportunities.
Tigres vs Chivas – Match Stats
- Tigres are unbeaten in their last five Liga MX fixtures
- Tigres have only lost once in the Apertura
- Tigres are unbeaten at home (W3 D1)
- Tigres are unbeaten in five at home to Chivas
- Chivas have only one win in the Apertura
- Chivas only victory has been in an away match
- Chivas won the last time the two sides met in a Liguilla (2-1)
- In a manager’s head-to-head, Ferretti has W3, Almeyda W1 and D2
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Tigres vs Chivas 2-0
Tigres vs Chivas – Possible Lineups
Guzmán – Torres, Juninho, Ayala – Aquino, Carioca, Dueñas, Rodriguez – Vargas, Valencia, Gignac
Coach: Ricardo Ferretti
Cota – Hernandez, Alanis, Salcido, Sanchez – Perez, Vazquez – Lopez, Pizarro, Fierro – Zaldívar
Coach: Matias Almeyda
Bryce Dunn is a Northern Irish football writer and Podcaster. Bryce hosts the popular Bundesliga – Gegenpressing Podcast, which is the most in-depth English-speaking Bundesliga Podcast available and Golazo an English-speaking Podcast covering Mexico’s Liga MX on the Futbolgrad Network. He is an avid Liverpool FC supporter, who enjoys researching German and Mexican football clubs whether they are part of the elite or the lower divisions. Follow Bryce on Twitter @BryceDunn11.