Eighteen days after the conclusion of the Liga MX Apertura Liguilla semifinals, the first leg of the final kicks off on Thursday night at Estadio Azteca.
Ventura Alvarado and Club America are hunting for the club’s record-extending 13th title over Luis Silva and Jose Torres’ Tigres, who are looking to knock off Mexico’s biggest club.
A victory for America would be massive given the fact that the club is celebrating its 100th season. Given how the campaign started, it’s almost a miracle that Las Aguilas are in the final. Coach Ricardo La Volpe replaced Ignacio Ambriz in September with the team in seventh place. Since then, the team from Mexico City has not lost any of the 16 domestic games with La Volpe in charge.
America has played a predominantly gritty 5-3-2 system and Alvarado has been key to the team’s recent efforts. He started the final league game against Pachuca and has retained his spot in the XI through the Liguilla and Club World Cup. America has conceded just two goals in four games en route to the final with the U.S. international in the lineup.
Alvarado will be crucial, but so will 19-year-old defender Edson Alvarez. The youngster has improved with every game and has been key to the team’s defensive solidity. Rubens Sambueza and top scorer Silvio Romero will be leaned upon to produce up front once again.
As for Tigres, their form has been nearly impeccable during the Liguilla. They crushed Pumas, 5-0, in the quarterfinals, then Andre-Pierre Gignac scored a crucial goal in the semis against Club Leon to guide the team into the final.
American Jose Torres has primarily come off the bench as an impact substitute for Tigres. However, he’s been called upon in some crucial moments during the Liguilla. Expect Ricardo Ferretti to call on Torres again, as this could be a hotly contested final.
Tigres crushed 10-man America 3-0 back in July. However, Los Azulcremas have significantly improved since then en route to Thursday’s clash.
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