Tigres vs Monterrey – Apertura Finals First Leg – Preview

Tigres vs Monterrey – Apertura Finals First Leg – Preview

Tigres vs Monterrey – Thursday , December 7, 6:00PM PT/9:00PM ET – Estadio Universitario, San Nicolás de los Garza, Mexico.  

Tigres vs Monterrey will take place at the Estadio Universitario UANL in Monterrey

Tigres vs Monterrey will take place at the Estadio Universitario UANL in Monterrey

Tigres vs Monterrey is a fitting conclusion to the Liga MX Apertura playoffs. The two clubs represent one of the biggest rivalries in Mexican football. Known as the Clasico Regiomontano, the rivalry is the most traditional in Mexican football, and by far overshadows the derbies in Mexico City.

Tigres UANL, whose fans will argue that they are from San Nicolas de La Garza, and not Monterrey, represent the working class of the Monterrey area, whereas Monterrey, better known as Los Rayados, represent the upper classes of the city.

There is also a university aspect to the rivalry between the two clubs. Monterrey plays in the colours of the privately owned Tecnologico de Monterrey university. Tigres, meanwhile, were founded as the club of the public Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León.

Unlike Pumas UNAM, who are still associated with the university that founded the club, both clubs are no longer owned by their respective universities. UANL leased out the administration of the team to a subsidiary of CEMEX in 1996 and, since then, the club has become one of the richest in the league.

Monterrey, on the other hand, are owned by FEMSA, which is Latin America’s biggest bottling company. With the help of FEMSA, Monterrey was able to build one of the most modern facilities in Latin America. Opened in 2015, Estadio BBVA Bancomer holds 53,500 people and, with the new arena, Monterrey CF have become one of the biggest clubs in Mexican football.

In fact, these days, the class differences in the Clasico Regiomontano have been watered down. With the help of their respective owners, both clubs are now considered the richest in the league, and the derby, therefore, will pit the two best squads in Mexican football—and perhaps in Latin American football in general—against each other.

Given the strength of the two sides in recent years, it is somewhat surprising that they have never before met in a final before. The final on Thursday and Sunday will, therefore, add another chapter to the already rich history of the rivalry between the two sides. But the game represents so much more than just a derby.

In many aspects, the clash will also represent a clash of football cultures. Tigres head coach Ricardo Ferretti is one of the most cultured coaches in Mexican football. Born in Brazil Ferretti has Tigres play controlled no-nonsense brand of football relying heavily on star power. While tactically astute Ferretti is no innovator and instead is best known for his man-management skills—which are necessary to guide an all-star team like Tigres—and in this capacity has much in common with the European elder-statesman Jupp Heynckes.

Antonio Mohamed in the meantime is currently attempting to revolutionise world football. Born in Argentina Ricardo Antonio Mohamed Matijevich has a multi-cultural background and is often merely called El Turco (the Turk), and as if his history was not interesting enough on its own it is the brand of football that his side is playing that has experts baffled. Monterrey have managed to boss the Liguilla without ever leading a game in possession.

Monterrey hammered Monarcas 5-0 over two legs with an average ball possession of just around 40%. Monterrey appears to have almost an aversion towards possessing the ball and instead allows the opposition to control the ball quickly springing them on the counter-attack. In Europe, this sort of tactic would be called parking the bus and simply glancing at the stats after games would suggest that is exactly what his side is doing, but in fact, it would not explain how Monterrey managed to score the most amount of goals during the regular season.

In a world obsessed with ball possession Monterrey are the new antithesis. Given Tigres’ possession-based football much of the same can be expected from Monterrey in the final, and it will be interesting to see whether Mohamed’s tactic will do the magic against his club’s biggest rival over 180 minutes. Should he be successful, it could be the sort of tactical innovation that could influence world football.

Tigres vs Monterrey – Player to look out for:

André-Pierre Gignac #10 – Tigres UANL

The French national team striker is the biggest name in Mexican football. At the same time, Gignac has been almost goal shy during the Apertura. But those who have followed Gignac’s career in Mexico know that the 32-year-old is a big game player, who usually runs hot during the big games in the CONCACAF Champions League and the Liguilla. But the striker is more than just goals these days. Gignac has somewhat re-invented his game in recent months dropping deeper and acting almost like a playmaker at times, not unlike German striker Miroslav Klose towards the end of his career. 

André-Pierre Gignac has rediscovered his scoring touch. (JULIO CESAR AGUILAR/AFP/Getty Images)

André-Pierre Gignac is a big game player. (JULIO CESAR AGUILAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Rogelio Funes Mori #7 – Monterrey

Going into the second leg against Monarcas Monterrey fans were worried about the absence of star striker Aviles Hurtado. But thankfully for Los Rayados, there is real depth up front, and Argentine striker Rogelio Funes Mori stepped up to fill the void. The 26-year-old has worked on his frame in recent months to comply with Mohamed’s power-football and against Monarcas in the second leg was unstoppable scoring three goals to get his side through to the final.

Rogelio Funes Mori will be Monterrey's key player. (JULIO CESAR AGUILAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Rogelio Funes Mori will be Monterrey’s key player. (JULIO CESAR AGUILAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Tigres vs Monterrey – Match Stats

  • This is the first ever Clasico Regio Liguilla final.
  • The two sides faced each other on matchday 17 of the Apertura and Monterrey clinched first place in the standings with a 2-0 home victory.
  • Head coaches Ricardo Ferretti and Antonio Mohamed have faced each other on 18 occasions, and Ferretti just holds the edge with a record of W8 D3 L7.

Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Tigres vs Monterrey 2-2

Tigres vs Monterrey – Possible Lineups

Tigres UANL

Formation: 4-2-3-1

Guzman – Luis Rodriguez, Ayala, Juninho, Torres – Duenas, Carioca – Valencia, Vargas, Aquino – Gignac

Coach: Ricardo Ferretti

C.F. Monterrey  

Formation: 4-3-3

Gonzalez – Vangioni, Basanta, Nicolas Sanchez, Medina – Ortiz, Gonzalez, Carlos Sanchez – Hurtado, Funes Mori, Pabon

Coach: Antonio Mohamed


Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and social media editor at Bundesliga.com. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada.  Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.