Liga MX finals: Will Chivas claim coveted crown or will Tigres cap off chaotic season?
Get ready for Liga MX Final! will Shivas Win their 13th title and tie the historic record with rivals Club America? will Tigers Somehow lift the championship with their third manager in charge since February?
Starting with Thursday’s first leg at Tigres’ Estadio Universitario and concluding with Sunday’s second leg at Chivas’ Estadio Akron, this week will determine the winners of the 2023 Clausura tournament. Here’s everything you need to know about the two finalists.
– Final Liga MX Standings | Liga MX coverage on ESPN Deportes
– Futbol Americas on ESPN+: MLS, Liga MX, USMNT, El Tri
(Regular season: 3rd place, 10W-4D-3L)
How did they get here?
Momentum is crucial in the playoffs and no one has come into the Liguilla in better form than Chivas. Charging into the postseason with a four-game winning streak, Los Rosablancos Then beat not just one opponent in the playoffs, but two by Atlas in the quarter-final Clasico Tapatio and Club America in the semi-final Clasico Nacional.
It hasn’t all been easy for new manager Veljko Paunovic and an all-Mexican roster signed by Chivas. In the quarters, Chivas needed to bounce back from a 1-0 deficit in the first leg and advance to the next round with a higher-seeded tiebreaker after a 1-1 aggregate draw in the second leg. Against Club America in the semi-finals, Chivas again went down 1-0 in the first leg and went 3-2 on aggregate before roaring back with a 3-1 away win in the second leg.
In a surprisingly quick time in his first season as a Liga MX manager, Paunovic has made his team defensively tight and organized in what is usually a 4-1-4-1 or 4-3-3 formation. Forming. 2023 has seen a noticeable boost in confidence from the backline, and even when they’ve made mistakes, goalkeeper Miguel “Wacho” Jimenez has done a phenomenal job with his countless highlight-worthy moments in net. .
Against Club América in the second leg of the semifinals, Pavinovic also showed that he can be an amazing 3-man defense as well as a clever tactician who kept Liga MX’s leading goalscorer Henry Martin quiet. .
And yet, Chivas often find themselves in tight conclusions with their manager usually aiming more for pragmatism than risk. The strategy has worked overall this season but in two 1-0 losses in the playoffs. On top of that, the attack feels like a work in progress for their coach who still seems unsure whether he wants to use a real striker or a false nine. Things have improved in the postseason with their aerial pairings, but they have had consistent problems all year fighting for the ball in the air.
Who is their MVP?
Winger/forward Alexis Vega has improved during the playoffs, but attacking midfielder Victor Guzmán appears to be due for a big performance. The 28-year-old, who has seven goals and two assists in Liga MX play since late January, does something for Chivas with his playmaking, distribution and willingness to take shots when needed.
Credit should also be given to Jimenez in net. Despite a few head-scratching moments in 2023 that have drawn him criticism, the goalkeeper has made up for it with a long list of dramatic saves that come up in the closing minutes of matches. In the playoffs, he’s allowing just one goal on average.
What the title will mean for the club.
The championship means a return to glory for the Liga MX giants who have strengthened and pushed their way through disappointing seasons recently. It hasn’t been long since their last league title in the 2017 Clausura, but the past few years have felt like forever for the second most successful Liga MX team to finally return to the finals after their last championship season. will .
That “second most successful” moniker will also go away if they beat the Tigers this week. With a title in hand, Chivas will equal the all-time Liga MX record of 13 championships held by arch-rivals Club America, who they defeated in the semifinal round.
A trophy would also give more hope to a new era for the club under Paunovic and technical director Fernando Hierro, who were both hired last October. After a long stretch without an appearance in the finals and multiple personnel changes, both Pavinovic and Hero look to be leading the team in the right direction.
(Regular season: 7th place, 7W-4D-6L)
How did they get here?
Maybe rename this section to “They Came Here?” Considering their roller coaster season.
In early February and after just five games in charge of Diego Koka, the Tigers pulled one. You are breaking up with me, I am breaking up with you. After deciding to “end the working relationship” with his coach, he accepted a position with the Mexican men’s national team.
Former Tigres player Marco Antonio “Chima” Ruiz took charge in his first game on February 11, but after a nine-game losing streak that ended with four consecutive Liga MX losses and a poor attacking display, Ruiz was subsequently replaced. Fired and replaced by Robert Dent. Saboldi in April.
Saboldi is the third Tigers manager since February and fourth since last November. And while minor improvements have been made under him, it hasn’t stopped the disarray of a talent-rich team that squeezed past Toluca (5-4 overall) in the quarterfinals and outlasted crosstown rival Monterey. (2-1 on aggregate) in the semi-finals.
You can’t deny the experience and star power of this team that has notable veterans like Nahuel Guzman, Andre-Pierre Gagnac, Guido Pizarro, Luis Quiñones and many other highly qualified players. At their best, they are the most ruthless attacking team in Mexico with a terrifying amount of different tools and options.
Siboldi continues to make adjustments to the job he’s had for a little more than a month, but what has helped the Tigres is not as thoughtful as the 4-2-3-1 he once was. were in possession in the system (3-5-3-5-). 2 last week). At the heart of the XI, they have been completely enlivened by the rising form of the playoffs’ arguably MVP of all time: attacking midfielder Sebastián Cordova.
The Tigers are a bit of a mess though and have yet to maintain any form of consistency. Along with the managerial changes, part of their problems are down to veteran names like 37-year-old forward Gagnac who appear to be past their prime. In goal, too, Guzmán’s flamboyance and unpredictability have gradually become a hindrance rather than a significant X-factor.
Who is their MVP?
On a formidable roster full of superstars, their MVP is someone who might not be on their list of seven most skilled players.
Cordova, an unlikely hero with a goal in all five of Tigres’ playoff games this season, has been a key reason why they are alive in the title race. The 25-year-old Mexico international has been sensational in May, not only scoring his goals but also getting his passes in the final third.
Gignac should also get a shout out, regardless of his waning powers. Even with his lack of speed and finishing, his abilities are far superior to most strikers in the league. There is no indication that he will be leaving Tigres anytime soon, but given his age and Tigres’ need to rebuild the squad, it could be an impressive fifth Liga MX title for the French star with the team. May be one of the last chances to get a ship.
What the title will mean for the club.
It would be another example of the rising power in modern Mexican football from the Nuevo Leon club in the north. Often overshadowed by traditional giants like Club America and Chivas, big teams like Monterrey and Tigres have taken center stage in the 21st century with their star-studded rosters, trophies and passionate fans.
While the two have yet to reach the same level when it comes to Liga MX trophy totals, progress is being made, and especially from Tigres. While the Tigres currently have seven league championships — compared to Club America’s 13 and Chivas’ 12 — four of them have been lifted in just the last 10 years.
If the seventh-placed Tigers, who have three managers this season, can lift the title, imagine what a stronger team with a solid coaching plan could look like going forward.