Toronto vs Tigres – Wednesday, March 7, 5 PM PT/8 PM CET – BMO Field, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
The quarterfinal of the CONCACAF Champions League will play host to the clash of the champions between current MLS Cup holders Toronto FC and Liga MX Apertura champions Tigres UANL from Monterrey.
Liga MX have dominated this competition with every single CONCACAF Champions League winner coming from Mexico. But in Toronto FC Major League Soccer feel that there could be finally a side that could end Liga MX’s dominance over the competition.
Toronto, in fact, have been aggressive when it comes to their goals in the continental competition. They feel that after winning the treble last season – the MLS Cup, the Supporters Shield and the Canadian Championship – they want to now go for the one trophy missing in the cabinet and compete at next winter’s FIFA Club World Cup.
Toronto certainly have the budget – even in the confines of the MLS salary cap – and the squad to go toe-to-toe with a side like Tigres. Furthermore, Canadian teams have always done well in this competition with Vancouver reaching the semifinals last season and Montreal the final in 2015.
At the same time, this might not be the ideal time for Toronto to face the continents biggest spender. With the MLS season kicking off on Saturday Toronto have only played the two Champions League round of 16 games against Colorado Rapids and the season opener against Columbus Crew. That opener went horribly wrong for Toronto as they conceded a goal just before, and after, halftime to lose the first game of the season.
In some ways, Toronto may have hoped to face Tigres a bit later in the competition. The Mexican giants are now ten games into the Liga MX Clausura season and are currently sitting in fourth place in the competition after three straight wins against Atlas, Monarcas and Veracruz.
Tigres also have their very own continental ambitions. Coached by Ricardo Ferretti Tigres want to underline their claim to be the best side outside of Europe by winning their first continental trophy to represent CONCACAF successfully at the FIFA Club World Cup. Having come close in both the Copa Libertadores in 2015, and in the 2017 CONCACAF Champions League – both times Tigres lost the final – Los Felinos feel their time is now.
Hence, when the ball gets rolling on Wednesday evening, spectators will get to see a quarterfinal between two ambitious sides that could have very well been the final. Home advantage is a significant factor in CONCACAF, but Tigres are an experienced side that should be able to overcome adversity on the road. With this in mind, this will be a tightly fought affair with the likely result being a draw, which should favour Tigres over the two legs.
Toronto vs Tigres – Player to look out for:
Sebastian Giovinco #10 – Toronto FC
When it comes to Toronto FC’s most important player, it is difficult to look beyond Italian Sebastian Giovinco. The 31-year-old attacking midfielder has dominated the league by scoring 65 goals and 37 assists in 105 MLS games (regular season and playoffs) for Toronto FC. Some would even argue that Giovinco might be the best player to ever play in this league. It is undoubtedly true that the Atomic Ant, as he is called in Toronto due to his small stature, has brought Toronto to a new level and Toronto’s dominance over MLS would not be imaginable without the help of the creative midfielder.
André-Pierre Gignac #10 – Tigres UANL
André-Pierre Gignac is a big game player and usually does not awaken till the later stages of the Liga MX season or the CONCACAF Champions League. But this Clausura things have been a bit different. The French national team striker is second in Liga MX Clausura scoring with seven goals and has scored four goals in the last three Liga MX matches.
Toronto vs Tigres – Match Stats
- Tigres UANL eliminated Toronto’s Canadian rivals Vancouver Whitecaps FC on the way to the CONCACAF Champions League final.
- Tigres UANL finished runners-up last season.
- Toronto and Tigres UANL are the current league champions of their respective leagues.
- Toronto and Tigres have never met before in a competitive fixture.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Toronto vs Tigres – 2-2
Toronto vs Tigres – Possible Lineups
Bono – Morrow, Moor, Zavaleta, van der Wiel – Aketxe, Bradley, Delgado – Auro – Giovinco, Altidore
Coach: Greg Vanney
Guzmán – Torres, Juninho, Ayala, Estrada – Zelarayan, Carioca, Dueñas – Valencia, Gignac, Sosa
Coach: Ricardo Ferretti