Tigres vs Pumas – Saturday 5pm PT/8pm ET Estadio Universitario – Monterrey.
With just four games left in the Clausura, matchday 14 will all be about the tight race for the Liguilla. For Tigres and Pumas, the derby of the two university clubs in the topflight will all be about the playoff race.
Both clubs are currently out of the playoff race, with Tigres in 13th spot with 16 points, and Pumas in ninth spot with 18 points. The eighth and last Liguilla spot, is currently occupied by Pachuca, who have 19 points.
Hence, the winner of this game could find themselves in the middle of the playoff race once again. The loser, on the other hand, may have to console themselves with having to wait for the Apertura of the 2017-18 season when it comes to future title hopes.
Indeed, Tigres’ performance in the second half may be the biggest surprise of the season. The club, based in San Nicolás de los Garza, seems to have focused on winning their first continental trophy. The club has recently reached the final of the CONCACAF Champions League after eliminating Pumas in the quarterfinal and Vancouver Whitecaps in the semi-finals.
By reaching the final, Tigres seem to have switched focus to the league. Tigres had an impressive performance midweek against Chivas, easily dismantling the Goats with an impressive 3-0 victory. Up to that point, Chivas were one of the best teams in the Clausura, and Tigres’ victory highlights that they have not given up yet on reaching the playoffs.
This show of force also bods ill for Pumas, as the two clubs previously met in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal, when Tigres dominated the tie eliminating Pumas by a score line of 4-1 on aggregate (1-1 3-0). For Pumas, this game will, therefore, be a bit about revenge and also about stopping a worrying trend.
Pumas have not won a game in Liga MX since March 5 when they beat Santos Laguna. Since then, Pumas have displayed wonderful football, but at the same time, have produced lacklustre results. Pumas lost 3-2 to Club América in the Mexico City derby, 3-0 to relegation candidate Chiapas, 1-0 to league leaders Toluca, and then drew Atlas 1-1.
Pumas, consequently, have gone from being a sure-fire Liguilla candidate to being one of the big clubs that could miss out on the playoffs. With Tigres now on form, Pumas could find themselves on the receiving end of another defeat, which could put in question the future of Pumas’ head coach, Francisco Palencia, and his project at the club.
Tigres vs Pumas – Players to look out for:
André-Pierre Gignac #10 – Tigres
André-Pierre Gignac is by far the biggest star in Liga MX. The French national team striker has, however, struggled somewhat in the Clausura. Some of this might be due to the fact that his club has focused on winning the CONCACAF Champions League where he played a major role in defeating Vancouver Whitecaps in the semi-finals of the competition. With the final reached, where Tigres will face Pachuca over two legs, Tigres will now focus on the Clausura, and this was evident in Gignac’s recent performance against Chivas, where the strikers scored twice to double his Clausura tally from two goals to four goals.
Nicolás Castillo #30 – Pumas UNAM
Nico Castillo has already been featured on this homepage on several occasions. The Chilean forward has taken Liga MX by storm since joining Pumas from Universidad Católica this winter. Castillo has scored eight goals in nine Liga MX games, and currently leads the Clausura in scoring. The Chilean, however, has missed a few starts with an ankle injury and, as a result, Pumas have struggled in the league. There is some hope that Castillo could return in the important game against Tigres this weekend.
Tigres vs Pumas – Match Stats
- Tigres vs Pumas also met in the quarterfinal of the CONCACAF Champions League, and the result in Monterrey was a 1-1 draw.
- Historically, the two clubs have been very even. In 47 games both teams have won 18 games, and have drawn nine times.
- Pumas’ forward, Castillo, remains the top scorer in the league.
- Gignac has recently ended his dry spell, and has now scored four goals in the Clausura.
Prediction: Tigres vs Pumas 3-2
Guzmán – Juninho, Ayala, Torres, Rodríguez – Aquino, Dueñas, Pizarro, Sosa – Vargas, Gignac
Coach: Ricardo Ferretti
Saldívar – García, Jaquez, Verón, Mendoza – González, Escamilla – Cortés, Rabello, Gallardo – Castillo
Coach: Francisco Palencia